My phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but I answered anyway. A polite young salesman confirmed my name and asked, “How are you today?” That is perhaps one of the top five sales-killing approaches in existence, but that may be the best part of his call.
He introduced himself, told me the name of his company and proceeded to tell me he found up my business card (probably where someone threw it away). He said the name of his company so fast I couldn’t understand, but it sounded like a long distance carrier.
The purpose of his call, he said, was to tell me his company had just opened a new office in Nashville in some swanky office park (name withhold ), and he was just calling to introduce himself to get acquainted and make himself known. Could he set up a time to meet with me.
“What business are you in? ” I asked.
“We provide group benefits for employers, and I . . . “
At this point I cut him off, saying, “Let me be honest with you. I’m a one-man business. I was in your line of work for 28 years, and I really don’t want to meet with you.
He wasn’t deterred. That’s good, so I listened. He continued, and this is where his call sailed out of bounds.
Oh, my main reason for calling isn’t to sell you anything. I want to tell you all about my company so you can refer me to other businesses, since you consult with a lot of businesses in Nashville.
Really, Brian (not his real name), I don’t want to meet with you. Again, I’m being frank with you. I’ve lived in the Nashville area for 40 years, 30 of which I was in your line of business. I know scores of people in your line of work, and I would refer my clients to one of them, if I ever referred my clients to a group benefit provider. I would not refer anyone to you.
He said he understood, thanked me and hung up, being very polite and gracious.
What’s wrong with this sales approach?
How are you? – Never use this opening line. It is the most-used, most irritating line used by salespeople. A total stranger who calls to sell you something doesn’t give flip how you are, and you know it. It just makes people angry and antsy to get off the phone.
He found my business card? – Wow. What a reason to make a cold call. Not a real rapport or trust builder, is it?
New in town. Swanky location. – Not very interesting to me. I’m asking myself, “What is he selling?” Since he didn’t tell me, I had to ask him. I learned that he was in the group benefits business, not the long distance business after all.
He was persistent and polite. — That’s good. After I explained why I wasn’t a prospect for group benefits, he didn’t give up. I like that, and he was very polite.
He wants me to refer him to my clients. – You are seeing a pattern here. He didn’t say one thing in the entire conversation about me, my situation, my problem, or his solution. He didn’t tell me anything that was in it for me. Why would I refer a total stranger to my clients?
He only talked about himself. — All this young salesperson talked about was his company, what he wanted, and what he wanted from me.
He lost me with his opening question, and he slammed the door on his call by continuing to talk about what he wanted without offering a single benefit I might derive from meeting him.
It wasn’t the worst sales call I’ve ever received, but it is one of the most ineffective sales calls ever. If your sales people use this technique, stop them immediately. They need more training.
This salesman was not at fault. He hasn’t been trained properly, and that’s on his sales manager.
People are all the same.
People are always asking: “What’s in it for me.” Tell them early and often.