There are no second impressions. This is why the first few seconds of a phone call, especially with someone you don’t know, are so critical. With only a few seconds to grab someone’s attention, how you introduce yourself can make or break your deal – before it even begins. For some reason, the first few words that come out of our mouths are often these weak introductions. Use these more powerful introductions for a better chance at engagement throughout your deal cycle.
Here are some examples of weak introductions and more powerful replacements:
WEAK: Hi, how are you today?
This is weak because we really don’t care about how they’re doing and it’s a waste of time, especially if you don’t know me. This one is particularly bad if you’re calling above the Power Line to executives and even worse if you’re calling into the Northeast (Boston/New York). If you ask this question when calling into the Northeast you’ll get a very direct “fine, what do you want” response. I used to be so bad with this one I wouldn’t even wait for the response. I’d say something like “Hi, how are you today? Could you point me in the right direction?” There are two things someone is trying to figure out immediately when they pick up the phone: 1) Who is this and 2) what do you want. The more time it takes them to figure that out, the more annoyed they get and the less time we have to talk about the reason for our call.
POWERFUL: Thanks for taking my call
This introduction is just as polite as “how are you today” but it leads directly to the point about why we’re calling and doesn’t ask a meaningless question that adds no value to the call.
WEAK: Is this a good time?
Is it ever a good time? Has anyone ever said yes to this question? The reason it’s never a good time is because they don’t know who we are and therefore don’t know how long this is going to last. If this is only going to take 1-2 minutes then sure, they picked up the phone, so they obviously do have some time. But, if this is going to take 5-10 minutes then no, it’s not a good time. Since they don’t know us they are always going to assume it’s going to take longer than they want it to which is why their answer to this question is always no.
POWERFUL: Do you have a few moments?
This approach quantifies what you’re asking for. In my experience, the more you quantify what you ask for the easier it is for people to accept it. If we don’t quantify it then they will always assume the worst. I know this approach is a closed ended question and leads to a potential close ended (yes/no) answer but for some reason it works for me. I like to ask for a little bit of permission to extend the conversation when I catch someone unannounced.
WEAK: I’m sorry to bother you.
This one drives me crazy. We’re effectively telling them this is going to be an annoying conversation before we even start the call. There are a few reasons we use this introduction. The main reason is because we don’t have a reason for our call. If we are just calling to “touch base” or “check in” then we are bothering them and we should apologize for wasting their time. Also, many reps don’t really believe in what they are selling. If you believe in what you sell, and that it makes a real difference for the right client, then there is no need to apologize when making calls. My mentality when making calls is that I’m doing them a favor. This isn’t arrogance; this is because I believe that strongly in what I do and know it can make a difference for the right client.
POWERFUL: Can you help me?
I use this one specifically with administrative assistants and gatekeepers. These people are in those positions because they like to help. By asking this question you’re putting them in a position to do what they inherently like to do.
WEAK: Touching Base or Checking in
These are my least two favorite phrases in sales. They mean there is absolutely no reason for our call so therefore there is no reason for them to talk to us. I wrote a more detailed post on this one if you want to know more about how bad these phrases are and why. STOP TOUCHING BASE AND CHECKING IN!
POWERFUL: The reason for my call is…
This is my absolute favorite and I recommend using this introduction on every call. If we can’t finish this sentence then we should not be making the phone call. Try using this every time you make a call. I promise your confidence will go up.
Putting it all together
I use all these powerful introductions when I make my calls. My personal cadence goes like this:
Me: Thanks for taking my call. Do you have a few moments?
Prospect: Who is this? What do you want?
Me: This is John Barrows with JBarrows Sales Training and the reason for my call is I read about how you’re aggressively expanding into new markets and I wanted to share with you how I’m working with other sales teams like Salesforce to help them develop sales-ready messaging that resonates with their new target audience. What’s the best way to get a few minutes on your calendar to talk about this?
Pay attention to all aspects of how you communicate and the structure of your message. As small as it may seem, how you introduce yourself matters.
Make it happen!