Should You Use: “Is this a good time”—Yes or No?

B2B Sales, B2C sales, Appointment Setting, Closing Techniques, Cold Calling, Frontline Reps, Phone Sales, Prospecting, Sales Tips, Best Practices, sales scripts

The debate of whether to open your calls asking, “Did I catch you at a good time?” or “Is this time still good for you?” (for demo call backs), is alive and well—unfortunately.

Just last week, I received this email question from a reader:

“Hi Mike, question: After I send out information to prospects, and I come back to them with an idea do I ask them if they have a minute before going into my pitch?”

Have you ever wondered the same thing? If so, you’re not alone. I’ve heard this question for the last 30+ years, and I’ve also heard arguments for both sides. Some people think it’s respectful to ask if the prospect has time, and others feel they are setting themselves up for a stall.

So, what should you do?

I’ve been making calls—both prospecting calls and closing calls—for a long time. In fact, I still make them today. And in my experience (note I said experience, not “theory”), the answer is clear. What you should do is this:

Never ask if it’s a good time to deliver your demo or have a conversation with a prospect or client. Instead, follow this approach:

Always greet your prospect: “Hi {first name}, hope your day is going well….” (or whatever other opening you like).

Then listen carefully not only to what they say, but, more importantly, to how they say it. Ask yourself:

“Is this person happy to hear from me?”

“Does this person sound rushed?”

“Do they sound upset that I’ve interrupted them?”

“Are they unhappy they picked up the phone and now have to talk to me?”


“Do they sound relaxed?”

“Are they willing to engage; did they ask me how I’m doing?”

“Is there a smile in their voice?” (Or a frown?)

In other words, rather than ask if you caught them at a good time, listen to their voice and to how they answer the phone to see what their mood is. If you actually listen, you can always tell…

Then, regardless of what they say, acknowledge what you know to be true: they are busy! Let them know you respect their time and open your call this way:

“{first name} I’m sure you’re busy, so I’ll be brief….”

And then engage quickly and, if you’re prospecting or qualifying, ask them a question as soon as possible so you can give them an opportunity to tell you whether they have the time to speak to you or not.

That’s how you handle prospecting calls.

For demos where you have an appointment, don’t ask if this is still a good time for them. You’ve made an appointment in advance, and if you’ve truly qualified them, they are expecting your call and should be ready for it.

For these calls, you open this way:

“Hi {first name}, how’s your (Tuesday, etc.) going?”

[Listen here and respond accordingly.]

“Good to hear. {first name}, I’m excited to speak with you today and I know you’re going to love…”

And then get into your demo…

And, as always, don’t take my word for it, try it yourself! Your own experience will verify what I’m telling you. Happy selling!

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