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Your Old Friend The Phone: Keys to Calling & “Magic Words”

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by Mike on November 30, 2010

There’s been plenty written debunking the Sales 2.0 myth that you don’t need to make proactive telephone calls to prospects. I think we’re all past the failed fantasy that tweeting about our value-creating blog is going to produce the quantity of face to face meetings we need. And let me be clear, I am ALL for incorporating new media into our marketing mix and sales attack. I’m doing it personally and thrilled with the results so far. But tweeting, blogging and LinkedIn-ing are not replacements for picking up the phone (sorry to those of you looking for an excuse not to call). Social media is a wonderful supplement, but not a replacement for one of our most powerful sales weapons – the outbound proactive telephone call.

Members of my sales team were prospecting madmen during Selling Season. We did everything possible to maximize face-time with strategically selected target prospects. Our people spent a ton of time on the phone and that provided many opportunities to debrief, swap stories (both success & horror stories) and for me to do some coaching. I’ve come away reinvigorated about the power of the phone and reminded of the importance of regularly sharpening our phone skills.

I’m more convinced than ever of these Keys to Calling:

  • Dedicated Time Blocking
  • Proper Attitude & Voice Tone
  • Peer to Peer, Conversational and Comfortable Approach
  • Laser-focus on Objective
  • Masterful, Succinct, Prospect-Centered Headline
  • Willingness to Ask 3 Times for the Meeting
  • Prepared Objection Busters
  • Wise, Planned Use of Email and Voicemail
  • “Magic Words”

There are three “magic words” I use over and over and over when making proactive telephone calls. These words work and I encourage everyone I coach to try them:

Visit – I like to ask the prospect to “visit.” Appointment sounds so clinical and no one is sitting around wishing they had another meeting to attend. And I’ve made it quite clear how I feel about the word “presentation.” Visit is a positive word. You visit with family and friends. “I’d like to visit with you to…” or “Would you have 30 minutes to visit with me next Tuesday or Wednesday.”

Fit – “Fit” is one of my overall favorite sales words. Using “fit” helps demonstrate confidence and also disarms the prospect. It shows you’re not desperate and it’s non-threatening. “Let’s get together to see if we might be a fit to help you…” or “I’d like to learn more about your situation, share how we’re helping XYZ organizations like yours and determine together if there’s enough of a fit to talk about a next step.”

Value - “Value” is what everyone is talking about and seems to be the yardstick by which we are all being measured. Value. I suggest using “value” in a couple of ways:  “We’ll review your current situation and see if we can bring some value to what you’re doing…” I also like to promise the prospect that they will receive value from the meeting as part of the enticement to invite me in. And that usually happens after they’ve predictably said “no” to the first and second requests for the meeting. That’s when it’s time to put together the Trifecta and use all three magic words in combination :)

“Judy, I understand that you’re (insert likely common objection here), Visit with me anyway. I promise you’ll get value and ideas from our time together, even if we end up not being a fit to help you.”

That phone on your desk should be one of your best friends. Are you treating it that way? Maybe December is a good month to invest in the relationship so your friendship can thrive heading into 2011.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike LaTella December 1, 2010 at 12:37 am

Good stuff as always Mike. To exemplify the point, look at the other extreme: “Even though you have already said you don’t need it, can I make an appointment so that I can take an hour of your time to pitch my service/product and try to convince you to buy it anyway?” Although none of us would ever say that (I hope) many times that’s just what the prospect hears unless we are careful.
I like your word “visit” to replace the negative connotations stirred when “appointment” is used. I sometimes use “chat” as the replacement and a “few minutes” as a time frame. Also, if I tell the prospect that I will be in the area anyway, its seems to add even less pressure on the target. “I am going to be in your area on Tuesday morning visiting another customer, can we get together for a few minutes and chat?”


Kelley Robertson December 1, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Awesome post Mike!

Too many people have gotten caught up in the “social media will cure my prospecting woes” mentality. I particularly like the three “magic” words you suggest; they definitely change the dynamic of the call.


Tom Quinn December 3, 2010 at 3:10 pm

I love the trifecta and the realization that the phone has not gone away as a sales tool. We are blessed with new sales tools, but I am yet to see anyone get an order over Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter. People still buy from people and more importantly from the people they trust. Nothing like a good phone call to develop that trust. good luck in 2011 and I wish you good selling
Tom Quinn


Roy Warren December 7, 2010 at 2:09 pm


Great thoughts!!

I can tell you from my experience that the “words” are great. The additional comment I would make is, “BE REAL.” If you come off as a salesman, you get the OMG!, here we go, again! ASK, Listen, then be prepared to respond. So many times we can get wrapped up in setting the appointement we lose track of what our real purpose is. We are to MAKE the sale, not just to get the appointment.


Mike December 7, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Roy, you are one of the very best I’ve even seen/heard on the phone! Thanks for reading and commenting. It means a lot coming from you. Love your point to keep our end goal in mind – the sale – especially in an inside sales role like yours. Have a super finish to your already great year!


Kirk Briden December 22, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Great article! Looking forward to trying the three “magic words.” Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I am always challenged and motivated by your articles!


Paul Stolwyk April 8, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Love the magic words!

The word FIT is a golden word. It implies a lot more I think than just “I’m not desperate”. It invites a conversation to continue, it is easy to say, “sure I got 5 minutes to see if there might be some initial fit.”

You taught me this word years ago and I have used so often I claim that I invented it!


Mike April 8, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Paul Stolwyk! Awesome. Thanks for reading brother. A few months behind on my posts, but I’ll take what I can get :)

You can claim you invented the word. I am cool with that. Seriously, it is a beautiful word that communicates confidence and what should be our true motivation. We are looking to see if we’re a fit to solve the issues they’re facing.

Great hearing from you,


Nicholas Loise August 2, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Great stuff and pointers, it seems like everyone is always looking for magic bullets that are not there. Do the basics well everyday.


Mike August 2, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Thanks for reading Nick. I am with you. There are no magic bullets. We need to be really good at the things we do everyday — and do them over and over and over again.


Nick Hooper November 3, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Great post, Mike. Another strong word in your 3rd attempt at the appointment that I really like, and like to use, is “promise.” I’ve dealt with the “put off” objection before, where the prospect shuts down your attempt for the appointment before you can even get to it. Ask for a good time to call back, and “promise” to do so. The key of course being to actually do what you said you were going to do. Then, when you call back at the appointed time and date, even if you get a voicemail, craft your message to include the line “I promised I would get back to you today…,” it really works and says a lot about your character.


Mike November 7, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Hey Nick! Thanks for the good thought. I think you set the record for longest time span from post to comment. Thanks for digging in the oldies but goodies! Sorry for the slow approval. I was in the wilderness for a few days working on my book. Good to be back on the grid again.


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