Marketing expert, George Torok helps businesses gain an unfair marketing advantage over the competition. A bestselling author, he consults with business owners and is available for speaking engagements. Power Marketing is a registered trademark.
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You answer your home phone. A voice you
don’t recognize says, “How are you today?”
You open the front door of your house in
response to the door bell. A stranger smiles at you and states, “We were just
in the neighbourhood.”
What’s coming next?
That’s right, a sales pitch. There’s
nothing wrong with selling. That’s key to any market and critical to the
survival and growth of business.
But, I find these opening lines crude,
deceptive, and wasteful.
Let’s examine each of these charges.
By crude I mean that these are unpolished methods
used by novices. The phrases are the first things that the person thought of
without considering how they might be perceived by the prospect. As you can
guess a person could be doing something for decades and still be a novice. Time
and experience don’t improve your skills. Self examination, perspective-shift, study
and training (or coaching) improve your skills.
This is the big crime. If you’re the seller
it would be prudent to establish trust with your prospect to enable the sale. But,
you’re not building trust when you start the conversation (sales pitch) with
Would you trust someone who lies to you every
time they talk to you?
How are these phrases deceptive? Glad you
“How are you today?”
That is a greeting you might pose to a
friend. The complete phrase that is normally implied is “How are you feeling
today?” That’s an expression of interest in the emotional, mental, or physical
health. The person might respond with, “Feeling good. I think the cold is
gone.” Or “My back still hurts from that work in the garden.”
The conversation will depend on the depth
of the relationship and recent exchanges. The key inference with this opening
question is that the two of you have a relationship and some mutual concern
about the other’s well being.
When a stranger asks you that question the
inference is a lie.
My response to this opening is “Who wants to
know and why?” We were just in the neighbourhood
Perhaps you’ve told friends or family, “If
you’re ever in the neighbourhood please drop by.” Perhaps you’ve received a
similar invitation. It probably was a sincere invitation – to family or
This invitation didn’t apply to
door-to-door sales people. When they open the conversation with this line they
are implying that they are friends or family.
The other implication is that because they
are in the neigbourhood you are obliged to listen to them - because to do
otherwise would be un-neighbourly.
My response to this opening line is “So
These opening phrases waste time,
opportunities and goodwill.
By opening the sales conversation with dumb
phrases time is wasted because the prospect still doesn’t know what you are
Opportunities can be lost because of the
misdirection of these openings. The door is slammed in frustration.
Using deceptive phrases will destroy trust
along with goodwill.
The closing comment on the use of these
crude openings comes from the character that Marlon Brando played in the movie
“The horror, the horror.”
What other phrases have you noticed that destroy goodwill? Add your comments below.