Verbal Jujitsu 301
Point of Entry to a Business Call
When you make a business call out, pay careful attention to your first question that you ask. I’ve audited thousands of sales pros over 15 years, and one thing that boggles me is fumbling into asking for time:
“Hey ya gotta minute?” Take a careful look at this question. Do you have a minute? Ask that to yourself. What’s your answer, no. Most people don’t have a minute. So it’s a question that either gets a NO, or builds tension against someone whose afraid to say no, and stays on the phone anyway waiting to dodge or bug out in more subtle disinterested ways. You hear a sigh that says it all. The question makes both you and the receiver dishonest.
“Are you busy?” How often have you been asked that? In our techno-tragic life of rush and gush, driven by a love affair with speed, is anyone not busy? Nope. If you’re NOT busy, basically something is wrong with you. When have you made a business call to someone and they answered, “I have all the time in the world for you, hit it, my feet are on my desk, and I’m all yours, thanks for interrupting my boredom.” It’s obvious they have no business or no goal or challenge to involve them. Why would they need you, let alone afford your help?
“Am I catching you at a bad time?” This one’s worse than the previous one. Is it ever a good time to take an unexpected call when you don’t know why someone’s calling?
Here’s what I suggest to my coaching clients. When they call, be honest. Ask them this:
“AM I INTERRUPTING ANYTHING PRESSING (or URGENT)?”
It’s an honest question that get’s an honest answer. If the receiver says “yes,” Then you pivot to another time respectfully. If the receiver says, “no” then they can actually talk because they’re not in the middle of something truly pressing, and telling you they’ll listen.
Often times I’ll ask this question, and the answer is “oh I’m fine thank you.” Or “Nice to hear from you..” These are obviously responses that are conditioned and automatic. When you ask my question it gets people’s attention, it sounds different than the usual, and set’s you apart. Most of all it begins with honesty.
Once you get the “yes”, you can then ask for the time you need and gain an agreement, by letting them know why it’s important to talk.
“The purpose of my call is…” Get right to the point, furnish your message (the one thing they should know above all else; the context). Don’t beat around the bush, get to the point up front, this goes for emails too. Once the context is clear, you have better right of passage to request the time needed. If the call matters to the receiver, they’ll give you the time. No one has the time until you furnish this. It’s never about time, it’s about meaning that affords you their time.
Here’s a bonus: you could add a “promise” to the prompting of the call. “I promised to call you at 3pm today on the dot,” or “I promised Larry Gerard I’d call you at exactly 3pm today, am I interrupting anything pressing?”
This way you’re dependable right off the bat, and polite and respectful. You’d make a lasting impression that gains credibility fast.