One of the biggest misconceptions that sales representatives have is that they have to ask the prospect permission to speak with them. Phone representatives will ask “Is now a good time to call you?” while face-to-face representatives might simply state “I hope I didn’t get you at a bad time!”
This was a line that I held dear for far too long. In my head, I wanted to be respectful of the prospect’s time and acknowledge that if they are busy, I can reach back out to them at a better time. In fact, I believed in my rationale so much that I actually wrote a few articles in defense of it on other publications.
Here is why you should stop asking the prospect if it’s a good time to talk:
It presents the prospect with a perfect opportunity to get away
Wherever I gave prospects a chance to get away from me, they would often seize the opportunity and I would never be able to reach them again. The fact of the matter is this: if a prospect answers the phone or answers the door, it’s a good time to talk to them. If they were in the middle of something crucial, they would either let your call go to voicemail or just not answer the door. Rest easy – if something was on fire, the prospect would not have greeted you.
It hints that whatever you are pitching isn’t that important
If you need to ask the prospect permission to talk with them regarding your product/service, it subtlely indicates that whatever it is you are pitching isn’t that important. In your eyes (and in the eyes of the prospect), your product/service should be the #1 priority. Put your faith in your product/service and you will appear way more confident.
You hand over all the powert to the prospect
Salespeople are supposed to be in control of the presentation. While a sales pitch is indeed a two-way street, you are the architect of that street. You get to direct people in whatever direction you would like. By asking them if this is a good time, you hand over all that power to the prospect, who could ultimately decide to end the presentation right there.
There are better ways to be respectful of the prospect’s time
I am a firm believer in mutual respect. If you would like to be respectful of the prospect’s time, try rewording the phrase to be more assumptive:
- “Good morning, sir/ma’am! My name is ____ and I am reaching out to you today from XYZ Company! The reason for my call is that I have a new product that would fit your needs perfectly. I know that you are busy so this will not take that long.”
If you decide to say this, you are being respectful of their time, but also, not giving them a chance to wiggle away from you. Be careful though – you don’t want to pigeonhole yourself to a set time. If you say that this will take no longer than five minutes, the prospect might become angry if it takes longer than that.
Looking at myself and my individual performance too, it seems that I still say this from time-to-time. Old habits are hard to break. If you catch yourself saying this, try to avoid it and see how it changes the way your sales calls start out. I bet you will have fewer people bail on you, which will lead to more sales opportunities!
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