Did I Catch You At a Good Time?

How a Little Respect Goes a Long Way in Sales

By Chris Mandernach

“Hi, this is Joe Sales Guy with XYZ Company, and I’m calling to tell you how great my product is.”

Have you received a sales call that started along this path lately? I don’t know about you, but when someone’s taking time out of my day to sell me something, nothing turns me off quicker than the person jumping right into their sales pitch with no consideration for my time.

Cold calls can be difficult. The person making the calls might not want to be told “no” or has a fear of handling an objection from the party on the other end. Perfectly understandable. Anyone that’s had a career in sales has been there at some point. Depending on their role the sales professional may be incentivized based on the number of calls they make, how many connects they have, how many appointments they set, how many new accounts they produce, and likely how much revenue they generate for the company.

But how about the person on the other end receiving the call? On any given day they’re likely receiving anywhere from 5-15 phone solicitations (and possibly more) for everything from pre-qualified sales leads to janitorial services and everything in-between. More than likely the individual receiving the calls is not sitting around waiting for someone to call and sell them something. In fact, it’s human nature to get the solicitor off the phone as quickly as possible. Sound familiar? I’ve worked in sales my whole career and can empathize with sales professionals making the call because I’ve been there multiple times in my chosen profession.

What I can’t sympathize with are when I receive one of these three types of sales calls:

  1. The Jumper – the individual that happens to catch me on the phone and jumps right into their sales pitch with no consideration for taking time out of my day. They lost me in the first 5 seconds.
  2. The Know It All – the caller who’s phone etiquette is awful and is rude in trying to convey their sales pitch to get an appointment or get you to buy their product. You want my business yet you’re going to treat me like that? Yeah I’m not spending any more time on the phone with you.
  3. The Bait & Switch – the call where you’re lead to believe your company is already doing business with this vendor or they are a customer of yours, when in fact they’re trying to sell you their product or service. This one I’ve never understood because the moment I figure out what’s happening, I’m done. Why would I want to buy from you when you already tried to trick me?

I’m a firm believer that knowing how to communicate on the phone is at the foundation of a successful career in sales. I want to ensure I’m making the most of every call, so when it comes to cold-calling, those first few seconds are crucial to get the person’s attention on the other end, disarm their natural shield and earn a little more of their time.

So let me propose an alternative to falling into one of the three above categories of callers: When you connect, first show consideration by asking, “Did I catch you at a good time?” Sounds common sense, right? Not many people do this when they’re making calls, and it can be a pleasant surprise for the recipient on the other end. Show consideration for your prospect’s time upfront and in turn you may earn another 10-20 seconds of discussion. The call may or may not lead to a next step, but it’s likely one of three things will happen:

  1. You’ll give yourself a better chance of moving the call forward, which ultimately increases your chances of closing the sale
  2. Maybe you didn’t catch that person at the right time then, but they’ll let you know a good time for you to call back where you’ll have their undivided attention. This happens a lot more than you might expect.
  3. You’ll treat your prospect with respect, which represents yourself and your company well. Even if this go-around doesn’t lead to a next step or sale, your etiquette may plant a seed for a future opportunity when they have a need.

Whether you work in sales or are the recipient of sales calls, I’m sure you appreciate the value of showing basic consideration for another person’s time. This isn’t rocket science, but it’s sadly uncommon.

For those of you in sales, I encourage you to give this method a try over the next month and see if it helps you move more calls forward. My guess is it will, helping you to set more appointments and build a quality pipeline, which ultimately leads to establishing relationships with quality clients.

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