Don’t Say That, Say This!

Sales is set of skills that anyone can learn. If you learn and then practice the right skills, then things will be easier for you, and you’ll have more success. But if you don’t learn and use the right skills, then you’ll tend to wing it and make it up as you go along. This strategy is proven to lead to more frustration and less sales. It’s sad but true: most sales reps use ineffective skills and techniques that actually make it harder for them to succeed. And until you change what you do, you’ll just keep getting those poor results.

Below are five examples of poor techniques, I call them “Don’t say that,” followed by what to say instead. Look at these and ask yourself how many of these you are using and then make a commitment to begin using the more effective statements instead, and see for yourself how much easier selling over the phone becomes…

While prospecting, don’t say:

“Wonder if I caught you at a good time?”


“Is this a good time for you?”

While I know it sounds polite to ask permission before you begin a conversation, giving your prospect a chance to avoid speaking to a sales person (you) is almost always a bad idea. If I’m ever given that option, I always say it’s a bad time just to get you off the phone. There is a better way to acknowledge that you are barging into someone’s day unannounced, and here it is:

Say this instead:

“________ I know you’re busy, so let me briefly ask you just one thing: we provide (your product – to other like companies or clients) and it may help you, too. Quick question:

“How do you currently..”


“When was the last time you compared…”


“Are you the right person to speak with regarding this?”

This technique works on several levels: First, you’re acknowledging they are busy and letting them know in advance that you’re going to be brief. Second, the opening is short and you immediately get to a qualifying question. And by getting to a question quickly, you’re giving your prospect the opportunity to tell you if they’re busy or not – don’t worry, if they don’t have the time, they’ll tell you. This is much better than offering them the out in the beginning. Third, by asking a qualifying question (and feel free to customize what you want to ask), you’re actually learning something about your prospect. Overall, this is the much more effective opening.

While prospecting, don’t say:

“I’m calling to learn a little bit more about your company…”

Quick: what’s the one thing you and your prospects don’t have enough of? Time. One of the biggest causes of resistance from your prospects is the idea of a sales rep taking some of their precious time to pitch them on something they probably don’t want anyway. I groan when a sales reps calls me and starts pitching, and when you’re at home and a telemarketer calls you, how do YOU feel?

While opening your call by asking, “I’m calling to learn a little bit more about your company,” might sound consultative and in your prospect’s best interest, it isn’t perceived that way. That’s why it’s much better to:

Say this instead:

“________ briefly, we help companies do XYZ, and I just have a quick question to easily find out if this is a fit for you as well…

“How do you currently..”


“When was the last time you..”


“Are you the right person to speak with regarding this?”

Once again, the key is to be brief and to get to a qualifying question quickly. Your prospect will appreciate that you’re getting to the point right away, and this immediately separates you from all the other sales reps calling to steal their time.

While prospecting, don’t open your call like this:

“The reason for my call is that we provide accounting solutions for companies that process more than 150 employees in a month. Our solution is ideal for companies like yours in that we can save you both time and money handling…..”

Believe it or not, most sales reps start a call with a product dump monologue that instantly puts prospects in a bad mood. Nobody cares what you do or how you do it. Instead, what they want to know is if it’s a fit for them and how it can help them. And that’s why you must, absolutely must, get to the point quickly and ask them a question so they can engage with you. Try:

Do open your call this way instead:

“The reason I’m calling is to see if you’d be a good candidate for what we do. _________ in a nutshell we have a super easy solution that saves companies as much as 15% monthly in the way they process their employee checks. Let me ask you just two quick questions:

One: Who are you using now to process employee payments?

Two: If we could also save you 15% of your monthly expenses, how open would you be to seeing if this would be a fit for you?

This opening is much better for several reasons. First of all, it’s short (always a good thing on a cold call). Next, it lets them know you’re simply calling to see if they would be a fit (which is what they want to know as well before they’re willing to invest more time to speak with you). It also tells them your solution is “super easy” (and who doesn’t like that?). Then it gives them a benefit (the 15%). Lastly, you’re immediately giving them an opportunity to interact by asking them questions.

While prospecting, don’t say:

“Are you the person who would be making a decision on something like this?”

The biggest problem with this approach is that it’s closed ended. It requires a “Yes” or “No” answer, and that allows the prospect to hide behind a smokescreen answer. It’s much easier for them to say yes and avoid getting into the real decision tree that you’ll unfortunately find out later on (when you’re trying to close the deal).

Say this instead:

“Besides yourself, who else would weigh in on a decision like this?”

Ah, the power of the open ended, assumptive questions. This question immediately cuts through any smokescreen your prospect would otherwise use, and it automatically gets them to reveal who else is involved. And let’s face it, most people will consult with someone (or multiple people) when making a decision. Isn’t it better to find out in advance?

While closing, don’t respond to the objection:

“I’ll run this by my regional manager (or boss or partner, etc.) and see what he/she says”


“And when should I get back with you?”

So much time and energy can be saved if you prepare yourself for this common stall in the beginning and learn how to answer it correctly. First of all, the last thing you want to do is hand control of the close over to your prospect by asking when you should get back with them. Instead:

While closing, do respond to this objection this way:

“Terrific, and if he gives you the O.K. to move on this, what other questions would you have for me?”


“O.K., and let me ask you: Based on what you’ve seen so far, is this something that you’d be inclined to move forward with if the decision were up to you?”

[If Yes]

“And how much influence do you have with your regional in deciding on something like this?”

One of the big keys to success in sales is to understand that 80% of the objections you’re going to get are the same ones you got yesterday and that you’ll get again tomorrow. In other words, they’re all the same! Once you realize this, you’ll have a distinct advantage if you take the time to prepare the right responses to the stalls and objections you know you’re going to get.

The response above allows you to isolate the stall at the end of your close and get right to the real objection. In other words, if the prospect isn’t sold, then speaking to someone else is just a smokescreen that won’t go away when you call them back. Finding out now gives you the ability to deal with the real objection, and it’s best to do it now while you’re in the closing arena.

As you can see by the techniques above, sales is a series of skills that anyone can learn. The key, however, is to learn and use the right skills! Remember, practice doesn’t make perfect; it only makes permanent. If you use poor skills over and over, you’re not going to improve. Conversely, making small adjustments in the techniques you use can have a BIG impact on your results.

But don’t take my word for it. As always, try these scripts for yourself and see how much better of a reaction you get, and how much easier your cold calling and closing presentations go.