Weak Wimpy Words

By Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor

At Telephone Doctor, we call the phrase, “Hi, how are you?” the four killer words. They are probably the most useless words you can utter when making cold sales calls – or even warm ones.

Years ago, while living at our house, my mother answered our phone. After her gentle, “Hello” came “Hi, Mrs. Friedman” (she wasn’t Mrs. Friedman). “How are you?”

My mother, an open, honest person, simply went on to say, “I’m so glad you asked. My back is killing me, my pacemaker is a little slow, the sore on my knee looks horrible, I’ve got the worst headache, and feel like I’m getting the flu. How are you?” The man on the phone said, “Compared to you, a whole lot better,” and hung up.

The phrase, “Hi, how are you?” is useless for making sales calls. Don’t use it. Opening a call with, “Hi, how are you,” tells the prospect, “I’m out to sell you something.”

Telephone Doctor’s method of making outgoing cold calls is different. Start by introducing yourself, making a full disclosure at the top of the call.

It’s simple. A cold call should go like this:

Prospect: “Hello.”

You: “My name is Nancy Friedman.” (Please use your own name.)  “I’m with First Fancy Mortgage. I need to speak with Bob Smith.”

You see, with the Telephone Doctor’s full disclosure at the top of the call, it’s difficult to get screened. Why? Because we give the name and company first, what’s left? Maybe, “May I ask what this is in regard to?” As a former executive assistant, I can tell you, when someone is good enough to give me two thirds of the pie, I was willing to put the call through without asking the “reference” question.

What if the person you are speaking to does ask, “What is this in reference to?” You address the question frankly, using a technique that has never failed me. Simply say, “Yes, I’m interested in doing business with your company.” Who would challenge that statement?

So, lose the words, “Hi, how are you?” Do use full disclosure at the beginning of your call, because if you use the full disclosure statement at the top of the call, you will minimize the likelihood of being  screened. You may get the, “What is this in reference to?” question, but now you know how to handle that!

There are two other weak wimpy words that are ineffective and need to be avoided.

Think: “I think you’ll like the information I have for you.” You think? Is there a doubt in your mind? There shouldn’t be. This word isn’t even necessary and without it, the sentence becomes much stronger. “You’ll like the information I have for you.” It’s a statement of confidence, of conviction, of someone who believes in what they have to offer.

Just: “I’m just calling to see if you got the information I sent.” Study that line. If that’s all you’re calling about, when they say, “Yes I got it,” you should say “Okay, thanks. That’s all I wanted to know,” and hang up. But will you? Probably not, so remove it. Again, the sentence becomes stronger when the word “just” is removed.

Lastly, asking, “Do you have any questions?” is weak and wimpy too. To strengthen that one, make it a statement. “Mrs. Friedman, most of the individuals I’ve sent that particular brochure to have asked several questions. Let me go over it with you, now.”

All these are simple tips, but all are tried and true.

Nancy Friedman is president of Telephone Doctor, an international customer service training company, based in St. Louis, MO. Nancy is the author of four best selling books. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or go to www.telephonedoctor.com.

[From Connection Magazine Jan/Feb 2007]