The Telephone Doctor: "Hi. How are you?" and other weak, wimpy wordsNancy Friedmansales, cold calling, phone etiquette 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). True story: Years ago, while living at our house, my mother answered our phone. And after her gentle hello came the following: "Hi, Mrs. Friedman." She wasn't even 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 I feel like I'm getting the flu. How are you?" The man on the phone said, "Compared to you, a hell of a lot better," and hung up. "Hi. How are you?" That phrase is useless - totally useless. Get it out of your vocabulary. Opening a call with "Hi. How are you?" screams, "I'm out to sell you something." "Well, Nancy, what should we say?" you ask. Telephone Doctor's method of making outgoing cold calls is slightly different than others. Frankly, there are many ways to make that first cold call. Telephone Doctor's is one of many. We just know it works. Start by introducing yourselffull disclosure at the top of the call. That's all. It's simple. A cold call should go like this: Prospect: Hello? You: My name is [insert your name here]. I'm with First Fancy Mortgage. I need to speak with Bob Smith. That's all. It's simple. You see, with the Telephone Doctor's full disclosure at the top of the call, it's difficult to get screened - not impossible, but difficult. Why? Because if you give the name and company first, what's left? Maybe, "May I ask what this is in reference to?" However, as a former executive assistant, I can tell you that when someone was good enough to give me two-thirds of the pie, I was willing to put the call through without asking the reference question. You see, people are told to screen. Receptionists and administrative assistants don't wake up and think, "Great - I'm going to screen all calls today." They're told to screen. They hear, "Find out who it is and who he's with." That's what they're told. The "What is this in reference to?" question is easy to handle if you're going to accept the Telephone Doctor's method of full disclosure at the top of the call. So, you've given the person who has answered the call your name up front. He can't screen you for that. You've given him the company you're with, so he can't screen you for that. What's left? That's right, "What is this in reference to?" or perhaps, "Will he know what this is in regard to?" (Both questions make me want to throw up.) But I am about to share with you a technique that has never failed me. Although, I will say that I use the full disclosure technique consistently and I am unable to recall the last time anyone asked me the reference question. But when it happens - and it might - use the Telephone Doctor's never-fail answer: "Yes, I'm interested in doing business with your company." Think. Who would challenge that statement? Can you just see someone telling his boss, "Someone's on the phone who wants to do business with us; you don't want to talk to him, do you?" As I reread this, I see we got a little off track. Let me get back to "Hi. How are you?" Lose those words. They are useless. Do use full disclosure at the beginning of your call, because if you use it at the top of the call, you won't get screened - ever. You may get the "What is this in reference to?" but now you know how to handle that! Let's move on to some other weak, wimpy words - words that roll off of our tongues, but are ineffective and need to be avoided. Weak, wimpy word #1 - Think Example: "I think you'll like the information I have for you." You think he'll like it? Is there a doubt in your mind? There shouldn't be. Every time you tell someone that you think he'll like it, think it'll work or think it's right, you leave doubt. The word isn't even necessary, and without it, the sentence becomes much stronger. "You'll like the information I have for you." Now that's a statement of confidence, conviction and of someone who believes in what he has to offer. Think - it's a weak, wimpy word. Weak, wimpy word #2 - Just Example: "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 he says, "Yes, I got it," you should say, "OK. Thanks. That's all I wanted to know," and hang up. But will you? I doubt it. Remove the word "just" - another weak, wimpy word, which is unnecessary and useless. What should you say instead? Try, "I'm calling to be sure you received the information I sent you," and then include a benefit statement or a question. By the way, asking, "Do you have any questions?" is weak and wimpy, too. If you want to strengthen that one, make it a statement. "Mrs. Friedman, most of the folks I've sent that particular brochure to have had several questions. Let me go over it with you now." All simple tips, but all tried and true. And they all work. Stay tuned for more next month. Thanks for reading with us. Nancy Friedman is president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training in St. Louis. For more information, call (314) 291-1012 or visit www.telephonedoctor.com.