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<b>The Best Question to Ask on a First Sales Call</b>

“Is now a good time?” Or, “Do you have a minute?”

Ask either of those two questions and you’re going to get a wealth of information. But if you ask, “Hey, how are you today?” that ringing sound you hear in your ear is called a dial tone.

“How are you today?” is a sign you don’t know what else to say or why you’re even saying it. People know you don’t care. They know you’re not listening. It’s your attempt at small talk and 65% of the people you call on don’t have time for it.

When you ask, “Is now a good time?” people will always respond one of four ways.

The Driver’s response: “What do you want? What’s this about?” It’s the Driver’s response that scares people from asking “Is now a good time?” They think everyone responds like a Driver, but only Driver’s respond this way. That’s a great advantage to me because now I know to get to the point, let the Driver do the talking, and be careful not to interrupt. A wealth of information from a harsh response.

The Analytical: They’re looking for excuses not to talk to you. “No. I’m on my way to a meeting. Call me back some other time.”

The Amiable: “Hey, great. You bet. Let’s talk.” They’re comfortable in talking with anyone. They’re the 35% who are comfortable with small talk.

The Expressive: “Sure. Fine. Go ahead.” Expressives sound like Drivers. Both use short words and short sentences. The big difference is that Expressives have a friendlier tone in their voice.

Analyticals and Amiables use longer words and longer sentences.

Why is knowing their personalities important? It tells you how to speak to them. And it tells you how long this selling cycle is going to be. (Just to mention two of dozens of things personalities tell you as our blog time goes by.)

Drivers can make a decision in 1-2 calls. That means he or she can make a decision about making an appointment or buying from you on this very first call. Stay away from any small talk unless you want this Driver to stay away from you forever. They hate it.

Expressives can make a decision in 2-3 calls. And center your call around them. They love to talk about themselves and will carry most of the conversation. Like Drivers, you need to be direct in dealing with them.

Amiables can make a decision in 4-5 calls. The problem is, they’re dependent upon other people helping them make a decision. You better find out who it is and get them involved in the process. Like the Analyticals, they are indirect in dealing with you.

Analyticals can make a decision in 5-7 calls and like Drivers, they’re usually top-level decision-makers and in upper-management. Never back them into a corner for a decision. They’ll make a decision once they get all the details and facts. And make sure you have them, because if you don’t, they’ll hold it against you. Oh, and they have the memory of an elephant, so don’t think you can come back and try another day if you haven’t been truthful.

When you’re calling on customers for the first time, every word counts. Don’t waste them or the opportunity.

© 2006 Jerry Hocutt, Hocutt & Associates, Inc. Download your FREE ebook, Creating Sales Opportunities – Five Proven Ways, and get a FREE 30-day trial of the D-I-Y Sales & Marketing Email Postcards™ at For many more sales & marketing tips, visit our blog at

About the Author: I’ve Been Compared to David Letterman. My mission: to help Salesknockers™ (the rare and seldom seen business person or salesperson who creates their own opportunities) succeed. I’ve trained over 150,000 people in business since 1992 through our nationally acclaimed Cold Calling for Cowards® seminars. (“He’s the Zen Master of Cold Calls” – Los Angeles Times.) I’ve been compared to David Letterman by the New Brunswick (NJ) Star-Ledger (“Lord of the Rings”). “Okay, so he’s not David Letterman.” (I didn’t say it was flattering. Just that I’ve been compared to him.)

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