Scary How These "Friendly" Words Sabotage Cold Calls


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When we were kids, most of us had some adult teach us to greet people with a “Hello” or “Good Morning”, to say, “Please” and “Thank you”, and to ask permission of adults before going out to play with the neighborhood kids.

Flash forward a couple of decades and those same social niceties are reinforced by all sorts of business and sales gurus who tell us what we need to know we learned in kindergarten!

So, imagine my surprise when I first heard about the executive committee meetings where presenters received specific, no-nonsense instructions for their conduct during these meetings.

“State your business clearly and in bottom line terms. Don’t ask us questions. Do tell us what we need to know to make effective decisions. Do not say ‘good morning. ’ Do not say ‘thank you for your time. ’”

By the time the Secretary/Drill Sergeant of the Corporation finished briefing the “young first-timers”, every single one of the rookies was shakin’ in his boots! Social niceties are absolutely, positively, no doubt about it, totally inappropriate at the executive level.

Being socially correct is a hard habit to break, but well worth the effort, as you learn new language that will serve you particularly well when cold calling executives.

Many of your colleagues call the offices of top decision makers and say something to this effect: “Good Morning!” “Is this a good time?” “May I schedule a meeting with the executive?” Your colleagues don’t realize it but as soon as the phrase, “Good Morning” was uttered, the executive assistant quit listening. Those seemingly innocent words triggered her mind to conclude, “This caller does not belong at the executive level. ”

Then, the words that followed “Is this a good time? May I schedule a meeting with the executive?” only served to confirm her decision to keep the caller out of the executive suites.

You’re probably thinking “You’ve got to be kidding, there is nothing wrong with those words, I’ve used them all my life!” But from the perspectives of the executive and the executive assistant, those very words are huge, red flags indicating you don’t know the rules or the language of “The Top Dog” executives.

What’s wrong with being polite? Nothing. In fact, politeness is always appropriate. It’s the social niceties that’ll trip you up.

Executives and their assistants think and speak in bottom line terms. They use language that you’ll find in a Balance Sheet, language that will serve to help them make good decisions quickly. Through the years, the decision makers have trained themselves to cut out all fluff in conversations and to be selective about where they spend each and every precious minute of their workday.

Yes, even to the point of cutting social niceties out of their conversations, and choosing to spend their precious time and energy with people who think and speak in bottom line terms. Executives are looking for solutions to their most pressing problems. Executive assistants are aware of the pressing problems and are looking for callers who can provide the executive with solutions.

You may want to read that paragraph again. Executives and their assistants are looking to find business partners. Executives and their assistants are looking to invite people into the executive suites!

Most sales pros think of the executive assistant as the gatekeeper who has the job of keeping people out. This thinking gives all of the power to the executive assistant. Successful sales professionals own their power. They understand how their products and services benefit their client companies. They assess cold calls from the perspective of the executive assistant and then change their cold calling script accordingly.

So how should you leverage the words of your current script?

Scrutinize your current script. Strip out the social niceties. Make certain the words are streamlined, focused, and bottom line. And make certain your tone of voice indicates that through every spoken word, politeness reigns. Keep the scary, seemingly friendly, social niceties out of your cold calling presentation and be amazed at how quickly you are welcomed through the previously closed doors of the executive suites!

Forward this article to friends—they’ll thank you for it!

Copyright 2006 Top Dog Consulting

Author/Publisher Leslie Buterin (like butterin’ bread), is a published author, speaker and founder of Top Dog Consulting. She coaches sales executives and recruiters world-wide in techniques for changing the point of entry to the executive level. For your FREE mini-course “Jealously Guarded Secrets to Cold Calling Company Presidents” visit !


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