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The Salesman's Curse; "How are you today?"

Imagine this: I'm a Business Owner and I've just spent 2 hours in an intense client meeting. I'm mentally knackered, I'm hungry and I'm frustrated. Unfortunately, on this occasion, I didn't get the outcome I wanted.

Posted by Owen Richards, Thursday July 9 2015

Blog image_Telemarketing advice for sales people

Imagine this: I'm a Business Owner and I've just spent two hours in an intense client meeting. I'm mentally knackered, I'm hungry and I'm frustrated. Unfortunately, on this occasion, I didn't get the outcome I wanted.

  • I arrive back at my desk and see the 72 emails in my inbox that I have now got to catch up on.
  • Two of my clients have left messages for me and I have to phone them back as soon as I can.
  • I have a thousand other things I need to do before I go home.

It’s fairly common for Senior Management or what we Sales people call ‘decision makers’ to be in this situation - or one similar to this - on a very regular basis.

My phone rings, I pick it up and the first thing I hear is:

“Hi Owen/Mr. Richards, this is John calling from ABC Co.”

I wonder who it is. I don’t recognise John or his company name…

“How are you today?”

Boom. Just like that John has lost me.

What is the first thing that goes through your head when someone you've never spoken to before calls and instantly comes out with ‘How are you today’?

I’ll tell you what I'm thinking…….Cold call. Telemarketer. Sales person!!!!!

In under five seconds John has highly reduced the chances of me buying from him.

If you want my opinion (and it’s okay not to want it) and if you regularly make sales calls, I would recommend you instantly make this one change. Make a promise to yourself NEVER to start a cold call using the words ‘how are you today’ (or words to that effect) again.

How Are You Today.

Here’s why;

  1. Every other cold caller uses it - It's obviously a sales call

Why would you want to be identified as a cold caller in your first sentence? Your call is one of several calls I've taken today so differentiate yours from everyone else’s and get noticed. The sooner a prospect knows you’re a cold caller, the sooner they can make a negative decision and the less information they have to make this decision based on. You've got a brilliant product/service and you’re already reducing your chances of your pitch being heard and listened to.

  1. It’s insincere

When has anyone ever replied ‘I'm terrible thanks’. Never. That’s because people don’t take the question seriously. I know that you don’t care. You are just asking the question out of habit and you probably won’t even listen to the answer. Furthermore, it can be seen as overly friendly, coming from someone you don’t know.

  1. That awkward silence and realisation

How many times do you ask 'how someone is' over the phone on a cold call and you get that awkward silence where you know they’re wondering who the hell you are and why you’re calling. I hate that feeling. That silence exists post realisation that you are a cold caller. Eliminate that moment from your process.

  1. It’s not permission based

Trust based selling is, by far, the most effective strategy. Your job as a sales person is to earn respect, build trust and gain rapport and to do so as quickly as possible. Gaining a prospects 'buy-in' (permission) to a conversation is a must and ‘how are you?’ doesn’t do this. You may as well just go straight into your pitch.

  1. It’s demonstrates a lack of assertiveness/control

A smart sales person will have something that adds more value to a conversation. ‘How are you today?’ shows a lack of creativity and thought. It hands the control over to your prospect and means you’re on the back foot early in your conversation. It effectively says ‘I'm just warming up to try to sell to you….I'm nearly ready.’

I, personally, will never ask the question unless it’s asked of me, in which case I will reciprocate. 

So I challenge you to find another way to introduce yourself and take the pledge to never again use ‘How are you today?’ to start your sales calls. You won’t regret it.

If you have any ideas on how you should open a cold call, post them below and share them.

You can read more blogs from Owen by clicking here.

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