The First Word You Should Say in Every Cold Call

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

Making a telephone callSelling over the telephone or setting appointments, in a cold call, you have just a few short seconds to make a favorable impression on the prospect.  In the first three seconds, the prospect forms a mental imagine of you, your surroundings and appearance.  By six seconds, the prospect has an impression of your trustworthiness, your professionalism and your product or service, and often, they are all negative.

With so much to accomplish in so little time, the very first words out of your mouth are critical.  What follows is an explanation of exactly what you should utter as soon as the prospect answers the telephone in a cold call.

What’s In A Word?
Ironically, the first word you speak in a cold call should not be a word at all.  Before I tell you what to say, let me explain.

In that first few critical seconds, the prospect forms an impression of you.  However, let us consider what information the prospect uses to base this impression.  The prospect has never spoken with you and does not know anything about you.  The prospect’s instant image of you comes first from his or her experiences with sales people, be they good or bad.  Secondly, the impression comes from the sound of your voice.

Fit the Mold
In the first few seconds of the cold call, either you fall into a general category of “bad sales people,” or you somehow trigger negative memories and emotions of such calls.  You need to avoid triggering the prospect’s negative feelings.

The Triggers
The trigger most sales people project in a cold call is the unnatural sound of the call.  Sales people practice and rehearse their sales presentation until it is flawless—-and that is the problem.  Any normal and natural telephone conversation is not flawless.  There are always stutters, hesitations and other broken chains of thought in a normal telephone call.  However, in an effort to sound more professional, sales people inadvertently remove the natural, normal tendencies of speech.  This unnatural tone acts like a warning beacon to the prospect and generates the negative feelings.

What is Normal?
If you listen carefully, you will note that most normal telephone calls start with a brief hesitation of some sort.  When calling a friend or relative for example, you may think you said, “Hello, Sharon.  This is Steve.  Is Ken there?”

However, what you actually said was more like, “Ah, Sharon?  Yeah—Steve.  Ken there?”  When cold calling, you remove these small, natural, nearly imperceptible hesitations and flaws.

The First Word
To dispel the prospect’s preconceived negative images, slow down and put back that normal bridge.  It is just a brief, stutter or hesitation as if you are gathering your thoughts just for a second.  “Ah…yes…”  Or, “Uhm…is Steve there?”  That’s all!

If this appears unprofessional—-that’s because it IS!  To be successful cold calling, you cannot sound like a professional cold caller!

Happy Selling


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 18 August, 2011

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