How To Open Your Cold Calls – "How Are You?"

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb


How To Open Your Cold Calls

“How Are You, Today?”

Some people believe that it is rude, even dishonest to ask this simple question, this simple pleasantry, at the beginning of a telephone sales call. 

When cold calling, the rumour is that to ask the prospect, “How are you, today?”  or “How are you doing?”  is in some way dishonest because the sales person doesn’t really care about how the prospect is actually doing.

The thought is that all the sales person is really interested in is making the sale or setting the appointment, so why even ask such a question?

Well, this may be true for the old-school, boiler-room telemarketer who is still operating under the outdated Smile and Dial mentality – those are sales people who still talk AT customers and not TO them, with a one-way spiel that seeks to suppress responses from the customer. 

The sales person truly does not have an interest in the well-being or current state of mind of the customer and does not even want to listen or hear—they just want to ram their scripted spiel down the prospect’s throat.  That is why it is called a “pitch” as in when you pitch a ball, you’re not looking for it to come back.

Well, I almost always ask people how they are doing because I truly want to know—because I actually CARE about how they feel—-and that is the difference.

I’m not out to make a pitch to a name on a list.  I’m looking to have a fully interactive and meaningful business conversation with an intelligent and valuable potential customer. 

If that potential customer is extremely busy or preoccupied with something else when I call, or if they are simply not in a good state of mind, then I don’t want to continue the conversation at that time. Rather than force some script down the throat of a person who can’t or will not listen at that time, I’d rather call at another time.  Doesn’t that just make sense?

Do you really want to fight and continue to force people to hear your pitch, or would you rather talk to people who are open minded and in a state of mind to listen and talk WITH you?

When I ask, “How are you today?”  I really want to know and I listen with empathetic ears.  If that person is preoccupied or in a state of mind that is not conducive to the conversation, I will seek to terminate that call, apologise for my bad timing if the situation calls for it, and I will call back at a more productive time.  

Part of the reason I can do this is because I am not desperate or feel that I must ramrod every decision maker I get on the telephone and I am confident that I will be able to reach this prospective customer again.

If you feel that you must hit the customer over the head when you get them on the telephone primarily because you are so short on leads and contacts and feel you must take advantage; then frankly, your problem begins long before you ever pick up the telephone.

If you’d like to learn how to do it properly then we have some products and services that can help. If you prefer face to face Sales Training then check out our Telesales Training programme which is endorsed by The Institute of Sales Management.

Or you can improve your skills through our Online Sales Training course which has a specific area dedicated to cold calling, speaking with gatekeepers and closing the deal or sealing that appointment.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Sales Blog

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 20 October, 2008