How Are You? – Three words to avoid when cold calling a new prospect!

Here’s a common real-life experience I often ask my sales training participants to imagine:

You’re shopping at a retail store, and a salesperson approaches you. She asks you these three words, “How are you?”

What is your reaction? Are you going to share with her that you overslept this morning or that you are worried about your father’s health? Of course not! You are going to say, “I’m fine,” or “Just looking, thanks,” and then walk away… SALES OPPORTUNITY OVER!

The same is true in business

When cold calling on the phone, NEVER start the conversation by asking, “How are you?”

You’re probably thinking “How are you?” is an icebreaker, just a friendly way to start a conversation. Unfortunately that question just pushes the prospect away. They do not know you and therefore, have no reason to trust you. To the prospect, it feels artificial, a contrived question to get their guard down.

So what what is the best way to get a new prospect’s attention?

Cold-calling advice

  1. Get to the point right away by stating the reason for your call. You start by saying, “Hi my name is Paul Cherry with Performance Based Results. We specialize in . . .” and then immediately go to your value opening statement.
  2. On a phone call, you have a maximum of eight seconds to make a first impression. Don’t waste that time with a “pleasantry” that will accomplish nothing. Instead of asking that question, use that time to establish your credibility.

Note: This advice does not hold true when you are making a call on an established customer. In those instances, it is perfectly appropriate to ask your customer how they are doing in order to catch up on anything that has happened (personal or professional) since your last conversation.

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Paul Cherry

For over two decades, sales expert and author PAUL CHERRY has helped B2B sales professionals close more deals in all major industries. As a recognized thought leader in customer engagement strategies, Paul Cherry has been featured in more than 250 publications, including Investor’s Business Daily, Selling Power, Inc., Sales & Marketing Management, The Kiplinger Letter, and Salesforce.

Performance Based Results

Paul Cherry is the president of Performance Based Results. PBR delivers intense, customized sales team training programs and sales management coaching to companies throughout North America. Paul has worked with more than 1,200 organizations, including 175 of the Fortune 500, plus more than a thousand entrepreneurial, small to mid-sized, cutting-edge businesses looking to dominate their niche markets. Clients typically get 7 times their return-on-investment (ROI) or better.

Questions That Sell

Paul Cherry’s top-rated bestseller, Questions That Sell: The Powerful Process for Discovering What Your Customer Really Wants (AMACOM) has been listed on BookAuthority’s “100 Best Sales Books of All Time” and has been published in four languages. He is also the author of Questions That Get Results (Wiley) and The Ultimate Sales Pro (HarperCollins Leadership).