We feel that it is appropriate that we kick our inaugural post off by discussing introductions. Prior to working in phone sales, I had no idea how to introduce myself without a handshake.
Perhaps one of the most difficult elements of the sales process over the phone is the introduction phase. For me, this was difficult for a number of reasons. The first being that in traditional face-to-face interactions, you have the ability to look someone in the eyes and shake their hands. The handshake is an extremely powerful tool when coupled with eye contact because it’s a way to establish a certain level of professional friendliness. Unfortunately, over the phone, you’ll never have that tool. Instead of a human being, you will only be a voice. It’s much easier to say no to, or to hang up, or to tune out a voice than it is a human being right in front of you. The second reason is that when you introduce yourself over the phone, you have roughly 5-10 seconds to grab the attention of a potential customer, establish your credibility, and make them decide that you are worth their time. 5-10 seconds. That’s it. In many ways, the entire sales process rests upon these first 5-10 seconds. It’s the foundation of which your entire call will be built on, so build it soundly.
This post will not be discussing execution of the introduction. That will come later on. This will be discussing the actual development of the introduction. Imagine that you are an architect. You need to first design a solid foundation before you can even think about what the house will look like. The introduction is your foundation.
Every introduction that I have used has the following elements:
- The Hello phase
- State your name and company that you represent clearly and confidently
- State the customer name
- State your purpose for calling
- Ask if this is an appropriate time to speak with them
The Hello Phase
So, you have dialed the number and someone picked up. Congratulations! Now the real work begins. The first works out of your mouth should be a confident “Good morning/afternoon/evening”. It’s respectful and communicates that you are a professional, not a scammer in someones basement. Remember, you are a representative of your company, so you have to be respectful at all times. You wouldn’t want to start out with “Hey there!” or “Howdy!”. This isn’t your buddy, this is a potential sale. If the CEO wouldn’t say it to a new customer, you should not either.
State your name and company that you represent clearly and confidently
Don’t be meek about it. “Good morning, my name is Jason and I am reaching out to you from XYZ Company, how is it going today?”
Don’t be shy and be afraid to say who you are and who you work for. I have trained several people where a non-confident introduction elicits the reaction “I don’t believe that you really work for them” from the customer. Instantly loses all credibility. You need to look them in the eye over the phone with your confidence.
I always add a little “How is it going today?” to get the customer engaged in the conversation right away. I want the customer to be a part of the conversation and to actually do more talking than I do, so I try to ask as many questions as possible, especially right away before they can build a defensive wall.
Stating the Customer’s Name
When it comes to stating the customer’s name (which we are all looking at on our lead list), I personally avoid stating the name of the customer before I know how to pronounce it. How many times have you been on the receiving end of a call where they butcher your last name? It’s embarrassing for both parties and should be avoided. If there is ever a questionable name that comes up, I always default to “Sir” or “Ma’am” until I know how to say it. According to Dale Carnegie, a person’s name is the most important sound to them.
If you ever see a name that is questionable, just ask them! I always default to this line. “Sir, I know how important it is to pronounce a name correctly and I want to make sure you get the respect you deserve. How do I pronounce your name?”. In the years I have been saying this line, not one person has refused and most people actually thank me for being so considerate. A handful of people have even went as far as to say “Just call me by my first name.”
State your Purpose for Calling
Great, now that they know who you are and who you work for, they will want to know why you are calling them. This is a crucial step. If you don’t build value in this sentence, you lose. It’s so important that I might write a follow-up post about it later on if needed. The purpose needs to address the need or the problem that they might have and it needs to be important to them. Don’t dive in to too much detail – you need to just “dangle the carrot” for them to keep them interested. Save the heavy stuff for the actual pitch.
“Mr. Smith, I am calling you to go over some details about your cable bill here with us.”
Boom. Right to the point. Usually, people’s bills are important to them. You haven’t given them too much information, but just enough so they will want to hear what you say next.
Ask if this is an Appropriate Time
While some phone sales people don’t care for this because it’s almost like an out-clause for those who want to get off the phone with you, I always find it respectful of their time. If you have done your job with the above steps, they will want to hear what you have to say and will opt to listen to you. They will give you permission to speak with them and eventually pitch them. It’s a subtle way to tear those defensive walls down.
“Mr. Smith, I am calling you to go over some details about your cable bill here with us, I hope I didn’t get you at a bad time!”
While you have done a great job at obtaining permission to speak with them, there will still be some walls up and they will still be armed. Remember, you’re just a voice. A simple small-talk question is a perfect way to disarm.
“Oh, I see that you are from Pittsburgh. Are you a big Steelers fan? What do you think about the Big Ben this year?”
“Wow, you live in Florida? That sounds wonderful! How has the weather been down there? Great for beaches I hope!”
This humanizes you and shows that you can occasionally go “off script” to discuss things outside of business. They will be way more receptive to you from now on.
This is the introduction that I use every single day. I never deviate away from this formula. It works like a charm for me. While you may find success in tweaking some of the verbiage, I find that it’s a solid foundation to build my house on.
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Author: Jason Karaman
Hello! I’m a marketing, sales, and customer service expert, trainer, author, and doer. I live in the South Carolina Lowcountry with my wife, Ashley. I enjoy reading (history, philosophy, and science are my favorite topics), writing, hiking, kayaking, and all things beach. For media inquiries, send an email to JasonKaraman@ExpertCaller.com