Fable Friday: “Can you hear me all right?”

Many years ago in northern New Jersey I was conducting a prospecting workshop that included live customer calls following a morning practice session. I had made the point with the learners that it’s important to get the prospect engaged early in the phone call with a compelling and useful question, rather than the artificial and cheesy “How are you today?”

I’ve written about this in the past so I won’t belabor it, but I will remind you that if you’re doing telephone prospecting, NEVER say “How are you today?” after the greeting. Just don’t do it, okay?

So we go through some good and bad questions to ask and one guy raises his hand and says, “I used to work for Merrill Lynch and when I started, they didn’t hand you a book of customers. You had to prospect on the phone.  We were always looking for that one killer question that would get people to talk to us.  Finally I found it.  When I call someone, after the greeting I always say, ‘Can you hear me all right?’”

And at this, every one of the learners began to laugh, as the question seems rather silly.  I said, “Wait a second.  Don’t laugh.  Let’s find out what happened.”  So I asked the guy and he said, “Everyone who hears this question always answers it. I have no idea why.”

I told the learners to try it on their first few phone calls and come back and share the results. Sure enough, no matter how the rest of the call went, the prospects all replied, “Sure, I can hear you just fine.”  I didn’t encourage the use of this question, because I wanted to get them to think of better, more topical questions, rather than those that attempted to trick or manipulate the prospect.  Still, I had to admire the guy’s ingenuity for thinking of it. I still have no idea why it works.

In my office I get tons of telemarketing calls, but if I’m not too busy I always answer them. I like to find out how people are doing and if there are any good approaches out there.  Sometimes if I get a bad one I’ll tell the caller that I teach this skill for a living.  Some will then ask me, “How did I do?” and I’ll tell them how they could have made the call better.  They are generally grateful for the feedback.  Telemarketing is a tough gig.

One day I got a call and when I answered, the caller identified himself with his name and company and then said, “Can you hear me all right?” I briefly wondered if he had been in my workshop!  I did ask him why he asked me that question, and he told the truth.  He said he learned it from another guy on the job who told him it was a good question to ask to get the prospect to talk to you.

Now don’t go using this one yourself, as in the long run you aren’t being sincere with your prospect, even if it does get him to talk to you.  I’m just telling you a story here.  On your own telephone calls, work hard to…

Think Like Your Customer

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About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at www.actionsystemstraining.com.

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