Recently, I have been following a LinkedIn discussion where the following question was posed? When calling on people, should you ask a prospect whether it’s a good time to speak? Simple business courtesy, right?
Living in a consultative sales world, and teaching the principles of a consultative sales process, to me the answer was simple. Yes. Being considerate is one of the core principles of consultative selling and it should be the core principle when doing business.
In my opinion, courtesy should never be ignored just to get to results. As a matter of fact, I would argue that the results could be short lived if you just want to get your point across at all costs.
Is Sales the Exception?
So, why is it that many sales people are encouraged by management to dive into a pitch? It is this very practice that gives this profession a bad name? We would never even think of storming into somebody’s office, putting down our laptop and diving into a conversation. Why do we think it’s ok to do it over the phone?
First impressions count
In my many years of calling on C-Level executives, I have come to believe that when you interrupt somebody’s work day, you should always be courteous and professional. Asking your prospect if it’s a good time to speak and giving the person an option will not only leave a good impression, it will lead to a good conversation. If sales people just start off with a generic pitch – and “fast-talking” – they most likely won’t get the attention of the person they are actually trying to connect with. I know for myself that when people call me and start reeling off their pitch, I’m mainly annoyed. For the most part I don’t even listen to what they are saying. My goal is to get them off the phone.
Engaging with confidence will open doors and ears
One of the LinkedIn discussion participants even said that he is teaching his people to never ask that question because they then can’t get their point across and it only invites a “No, I don’t have time”. That statement leads me to believe this person has no confidence in the people she/he hires to present themselves confidently on the phone.
Of course it depends on the situation and maybe your introduction could start with a simple way of saying, “Hi, I won’t take much of your time. Would you mind listening to my short business introduction if this is a good time for you?” Wording, timing and applying common sense is essential, in life as well as in business. Teaching your salespeople to basically be rude certainly isn’t a recipe for success.
Develop a call strategy
Too many sales people dial for dollars, without doing research or preparing for each call. When you actually have something to share with a prospect, leading with value and you are well prepared the chances that the person will listen to what you want to say are much higher. One of the reasons why some sales people come across as rude is that they are not in a position to have a meaningful conversation. They don’t know the prospect’s business, nor have they done research on the role of the person they are calling on. They are just pitching their service.
It’s about building trust
If you do your research and you know something about the company and the person that you are calling on, you will always be in a better position to open a dialogue. It’s all about building a relationship where people can trust you. Why would I trust somebody who randomly calls me to sell me something I might not need?
Also, if you introduce yourself via email and then call to follow up, your “cold call” won’t come across as completely out of the blue. BUT, you will have to prepare and do your research prior sending to the email, so there is no shortcuts.
In closing, there are many ways to prospect effectively. I prospect every day with huge success and ignoring courtesy is definitely not part of my recipe.