Every minute of every day, in offices around the world, there are introductory (cold) sales calls being made. An extremely small amount of those calls are brilliant, the vast majority, however are appalling and one thing that unites these awful, awkward, pain in the backside telephone calls is that, without fail, the person making the call begins the conversation with “how are you today?”
I’m not sure where this is being taught, what sales books are passing on this wisdom, what sales trainers, team leaders or managers are training their staff that this is an effective way to begin a call but, whoever you are, wherever you’ve got this information from, I beg you, for the sake of your own sales figures to STOP IT IMMEDIATELY!
It may be that you’ve not been taught this method by anyone and that, following the normal statutes of conversation, you feel that it’s polite, that it’s showing consideration, that somehow it’ll get the prospect on your side. Let me shock you for a second – it won’t.
Play the situation through in your own mind, from the perspective of the prospect.
He/She is sitting at their desk, with a pile of paperwork that needs doing, hundreds of emails that need reading, a manager breathing down their neck, colleagues asking for assistance with various tasks – in short, they’re doing their job. The phone rings, there’s a small, inaudible tut or, potentially a large, audible expletive. “Who is this, ringing me now? I’m busy, the last thing I want is something else dragging me away from my workload”
The tutting and expletives stop. They pick up the phone. There’s an enthusiastic voice on the other end of the receiver. “This can’t possibly be a colleague – they sound too positive”
The voice continues “Good morning…..my name is Terry Telemarketer from bad telemarketers ltd, how are you today?”
Thoughts zip through the prospects mind “Oh, it’s not a colleague, it’s someone trying to sell me something, don’t they realise I’ve got loads of work to do, all I want to do is get rid of them so I can continue working and now this Terry is asking me how I am. What I want to say is – “I’m really busy, go away” but I’m too polite to do that so I’ll kind of half listen to what he’s got to say for a few seconds and, as soon as he pauses for breath, tell him I’m not interested”
Terry then launches into his pitch and, sure enough, when there’s a large enough gap in his introduction, Mr/Mrs/Miss prospect gets in there with the killer line “I’m not interested”
Another one bites the dust Terry. And you’re going to have a very, VERY hard time getting that prospect back on your side.
If you have to make cold calls as part of your job – never, ever ask the prospect how they are as part of your initial introduction. Even if they don’t say it directly, the answer will always be “well, I was fine until you called”
Very few people like receiving cold calls – mainly because so many cold calls are delivered so badly and, using the phrase “how are you today” when you’ve never spoken to that person before is one of the most common mistakes made by telemarketers, telesales staff and salespeople all over the world.
Once you’ve successfully reached the prospect – which is often a challenge in itself – get to the point. Craft an introduction that covers who you are, who you work for and, most importantly, gives a reason for the prospect to actually want to continue to talk to you. Then, employing a bit of reverse psychology (this is a tip I’ve taken from the brilliant “Secrets of Question based selling”) ask the prospect “have I called at a bad time”.
9 times out of 10 the reply will be “no, it’s fine” – and then you can continue with the rest of the call. If it’s not fine, get an agreement for a convenient time to continue the conversation. After all, if you have something to offer that will genuinely bring value to the prospect, why wouldn’t they want to talk to you again. If you haven’t got anything of value to offer then, why are you calling them in the first place?
But, above all, and I’m going to say it one more time for effect – never start a cold call with “how are you today?”
And if you need help with any aspects of outbound sales and marketing give us a bell on 0330 20 50 500 or fill in the contact form on our website and we’ll call you straight back
Inspired Business Development Ltd