2 Min Tips with Tim

MythBusters – Prospecting Techniques

Welcome to this Two Minute Sales Tip with Tim. So it’s a beautiful Saturday morning and I’m down at the office trying to catch up on some reading. As a matter of fact, I really hadn’t planned on shooting a video today, but as I was going through some of my ready somebody had sent me an article that they wanted me to comment on and as I was reading through this article and getting ready to comment on it, I felt like there was an episode of MythBusters inside of me just dying to get out.

So today’s Two Minute Tip is really going to bust three myths on how to effective at phone prospecting. According to this author, Step One: The Greeting. Of course you have to have a great greeting. You have to get the client’s attention. You’ve got to get that prospect to tune in and listen to you. Here’s the example that the author endorses:

Hi. This is Sarah Smith from Acme Industrial. Can you tell me who in your company makes decisions about __________?

I don’t know what your experience has been, but my experience has never been very positive when I use an opening like that. When I ask hi this is Tim from Acme Industrial. Can you tell me who in your company makes decisions about ________? Usually I get why are you asking that. Tell me what this call is about. That’s information we don’t give out. It just sounds salesy to me, and when I sound salesy people start to shut down. I get that because when people sound salesy to me, I have a tendency to shut down, and at the end of the day this just makes it look like you’re unwilling to do your homework. So I think you need to do a much better job at greetings.

There’s a lot of really good sales advice out there and there’s some sales advice that I just caution you to be very careful with!


The author goes on to say it’s important to give a company capability overview. Couldn’t agree more. The company capability overview is a statement or big picture of how you can provide benefits. It is meant to enhance your credibility and answers the question “Why Us”. Couldn’t agree more, but once again the example that the author puts out there is to lead with something like this:

At Acme Technology we are an industry leader in shipping automation.

I mean that is just selfish adulation. Who calls and says we’re number two, or who calls and says we’re trying to get better? There’s nothing specific about this claim. There’s no facts in this claim. There’s no numbers, no percentages. It’s not specific and it’s not relevant and it leaves the listener still asking WIIFM (What’s in it for me?). So I think we have to do a much better job of putting together a company and capability overview.

Then towards the end of the article, skip a couple of steps here, the author says, hey it’s important that you close the call correctly and see if you can’t get a next step. Couldn’t agree more, but here is the specific advice this author gives. Lead with something like this:

Gee Mr. Prospect, what would work better for you? Monday at 9:00 or Tuesday at 2:00?

I think we call that the alternative close back in the seventies. I know it was popular back then because back then sales reps were being taught manipulation techniques. Guys, we don’t try to manipulate somebody. We don’t give them an alternative close. You simply ask the prospect hey given what I’ve shared with you today, given the conversation that we’ve had, what do you see as being the right next step.

Guys, there’s a lot of really good sales advice out there and there’s some sales advice that I just caution you to be very careful with. Let me get some feedback from you. If you would love to have me go back in and instead of just busting the myth to actually giving you some practical tips on how to formulate a greeting, how to formulate and state your company overview and how to set that appointment, how to close the call properly, I would love to do it if there’s enough interest.

My name is Tim Wackel, thanks for watching.

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  1. Erik Gillespie says:

    Hi Tim,

    I’ve had mixed results with that opening but I’m definitely curious to see what you’d recommend instead of the “can you tell me who the person is in charge of…?”



  2. Hey Tim,

    Warming up to the gatekeeper/receptionist/whoever picks up the phone is definitely the most important first step in breaking through, but I’ve got to believe they’ve already heard it all before. I can usually sense them rolling their eyes. Would love to hear some fresh ideas on getting over that first speed bump!

    Thanks, Dan

  3. Hi Tim,

    I love your Mythbusters and your absolutely correct in that there is a lot of advice out there that I wouldn’t use – salesy is a thing of the past!

    Can you give some examples of great greetings incorporating the overview. When I think about what we offer and our point of difference, it’s so hard to put in a short greeting, not to mention it’s still touting what we do and not how we can help you.

    Curious to hear some examples, thanks so much!

  4. Tim, thank you so much for addressing this subject, it’s very needful – can you give some examples of greetings that will address how to help the prospect vs. “”what we do” or “features and benefits”?

  5. My response when sales people call with that alternative ending is “neither works for me. Fax/email/mail me info and I might call you”

    I mean, trying to wiggle me into a corner to make a choice deserves a hard stall, right?

  6. Robert Lehrer says:

    I have the same question to Tim that most of you asked; what would he say/ask to learn who the person who handles ___ at this company? Considering it’s been 6+ weeks and Tim hasn’t responded to any of your questions, I assume that either he has no better suggestion or he’s just not paying attention to his readers’ comments. For a man teaching sales skills, this seems odd.

    • Tim Wackel says:

      Hey Robert – thanks for the question! Here are my thoughts on how to handle this situation:

      #1. check the target company website to learn as much as you can about the org chart – perhaps I can make an educated guess from this info alone
      #2. take a look at the target company’s LinkedIn profile… see if I have any 1st or 2nd degree connections at that company who would be willing to share insights
      #3. still using LinkedIn, do I know anyone outside of the target company who has a connection inside of the target company

      Bottom line – for me to be successful I have to demonstrate that I’ve done some work upfront… that I’ve made an effort. Calling the receptionist cold has seldom been a good strategy or investment of time for me.

      Regarding the delay in replying to comments – I am sorry and will try to do a better job. This post is now almost 2 months old (and I’m posting almost 4 times week)… so it’s challenging to keep up with older comments. Will work on keep these old posts fresh!

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