Stop Asking How I’m Doing

John Barrows
February 14, 2017

Recently, I ended up on call list. Now I am getting calls from sales reps who work at the same type of company and who sell the same type of service. The calls don’t bother me. I completely get the game. It doesn’t even upset me that they all use the same approach and say the same thing. (Though I do wish they were a little more creative.) The main thing that gets to me is how everyone seems to start the conversation by saying, “Hi John, How are you doing today?

I know this sounds weird. You’re probably thinking I’m a Masshole for being annoyed by people asking how I’m doing, but I can explain. You know why it really bothers me?

It’s because I know they don’t care.

I know they don’t care because after getting a bunch of the same calls I started answering the question the same way. No matter how good or bad my day was going, each time I would respond with: “Miserable.”

If they really cared they would stop and ask why or at least show some type of sympathy or curiosity. However, 9 out of 10 of them end up stumbling through the awkwardness with something like “Ummm… Sooo… Anyway…” and then wind up stating the reason why they are calling me in a panic.

The other reason I know people don’t care is because I didn’t when I used to use this approach. I was so bad I wouldn’t even wait for the response. My calls used to go like this: “Hi. How are you today? I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction.

I understand what we’re trying to do by using this approach: we’re trying to build some type of rapport upfront. Unfortunately this is a false way to build rapport and it’s more annoying to executives than anything else. You know what’s respectful and helps build rapport with executives? Getting to the point.

There are two things everyone is trying to figure out every time they pick up a call. The first is whether or not they know the person. The second is why they are calling. To help address this I wanted to share examples of both weak and more powerful introductions:

Weak Introductions

  • How are you today? Thanks for taking my call…
  • Is this a good time?
  • I’m sorry to bother you…
  • Touching base/checking in…

Powerful Introductions

  • Thanks for taking my call.
  • Do you have a few moments?
  • The reason for my call today is…
  • Can you help me?

My favorite introduction  is: “The reason for my call is…” because if you cannot finish that sentence then you should not be making the phone call.

My personal cadence for every call is: “Thanks for taking my call. Do you have a few moments? The reason for my call today is….”

My recommendation is to use this for every single phone call you make. If you do, I promise your calls will be more direct, you’ll get people’s attention, and they’ll be engaged in the conversation far more often. Just make sure you have a good reason.

Make it happen!

Need my take on your introduction strategy? Hitting roadblocks on your calls? Join me every Monday at 12:30 EST on Facebook Live for my new, video question and answer sessions.

John Barrows
Founder & CEO, JB Sales