Sales organizations focus on sales. That’s a good thing. But when you are trying to schedule an initial appointment with a new prospect, it’s important to use Phone Language and not Sales Language.

There’s a big difference!

Many salespeople just implement the same phrases and words they use in their face-to-face sales meeting when on the phone. That won’t work as well as Phone Language, which focuses on helping you to get that critical first appointment.

Here are some of the key differences between Phone Language and Sales Language:

–In selling, you ask a lot of questions (think Fact Find) and in phoning, you should stick to statements. (If you’re thinking “Why can’t I ask questions?” the answer is: Because questions on the phone are perceived of as a pop quiz. Face to face questioning shows an interest in them.)

–In selling, we talk about solutions. In phoning, we only talk about starting a professional relationship.

–In sales, we detail products that fit the prospect’s financial challenges. In phoning, we don’t mention products unless the lead was derived from a direct product source (such as a letter about a product that prompted a response from the prospect).

–In selling, we have already established that there is a professional relationship where you are the financial advisor and they are the client. In phoning, we are trying to establish that very relationship. Remember that when you are calling for the first time, they have not yet agreed to work with you.

–In selling, we are aiming to close on the products that will fit into the client’s financial life. In phoning, we are trying to become part of this client’s financial life as their advisor.

Phoning Language is more artfully vague than Sales Language and stresses the need to get together so you can both decide if you want to have a relationship. When you initially start the call, after introducing yourself, tell the prospect how you are connected. See Visual #1 where the first part of the script is outlined for a referral, a social lead and a networking event lead:

Hi this is Gail Goodman and your sister Jane suggested I give you a call…

Hi this is Gail Goodman and we met at Susan and John’s Christmas party last week…

Hi, this is Gail Goodman and we sat next to each other at the women’s entrepreneurial luncheon on Monday…

It’s often hardest to call your siblings and closest friends so you need to jump into the conversation quickly about the fact that this is a professional call and not a typical “family” call:

Hi, it’s me, and I’m calling with my professional hat on. You know I’ve been a financial advisor for over ten years and in all that time I’ve never called you on a professional basis, but I’d like to rectify that with this phone call.

You are quickly letting the person know that you aren’t on the phone for a good long chat. Remember, these folks do not know that you suddenly got the courage to make a this type of call to them. Let them know, UP FRONT, that it’s a different call.

Good phone language then tells the prospect why you are on their phone. Let’s use the referral and networked leads as examples:

Hi this is Gail Goodman and your sister Jane suggested I give you a call. Recently I met with Jane and did some great financial work with her and she asked me to give you a call and position myself as an additional financial resource to you and your family as I did with her.

Hi, this is Gail Goodman and we met at the women’s entrepreneurial luncheon on Monday and during our conversation you had indicated that one of your biggest challenges in your business is providing a benefits package that doesn’t break the bank. You probably remember I’m with ABC Financial and we have a lot of ideas for businesses like yours around this very issue.

Notice in both scripts I have not assumed that I am the person helping the new prospect with any specific financial problem unless they have told me about it themselves. In a networking situation, you would use the content of your conversation at the networking event to eventually develop your script.

Next, you want to mention the idea of an appointment and then tell the prospect why an appointment would benefit them. Now, back to the referral:

Hi this is Gail Goodman and your sister Jane suggested I give you a call. Recently I met with Jane and did some great financial work with her and she asked me to give you a call and position myself as an additional financial resource to you and your family as I did with her. I’d like to find a time when we can get together and share with you the total scope of the work that I do, and in that way, you can use me and all the resources of my company any way that makes the most sense to you.

…and the networked lead:

Hi, this is Gail Goodman and we met at the women’s entrepreneurial luncheon on Monday and you had indicated that one of your biggest challenges in your business is providing a benefits package that doesn’t break the bank. You probably remember I’m with ABC Financial and we have a lot of ideas for businesses like yours around this very issue. I’d like to schedule a brief meeting, maybe early morning coffee, where I can show you some of the options that are available to you as the owner so you can still be the hero but not feel like you are overpaying for your employees plan.

Then ask for the appointment. For many of you, the need to “update” your language is in the request for the appointment. Most of us were taught to use an alternative choice close, and I still support that method. But since scripts are so much shorter, you want to be more vague about the time and not too specific:

What is the least hectic time for you generally – earlier or later in the day?

Old language version: What is better for you, Tuesday at 1:00 or Thursday at 3:00? (Don’t use that.)

Here is the entire referral script from hello to asking for the appointment:

Hi this is Gail Goodman and your sister Jane suggested I give you a call. Recently I met with Jane and did some great financial work with her and she asked me to give you a call and position myself as an additional financial resource to you and your family as well. I’d like to find a time when we can get together and share with you the total scope of the work that I do, and in that way, you can use me and all the resources of my company any way that makes the most sense to you. Jane told me you are very busy, so what is usually the least hectic time for you – daytime or evening?

Hopefully these two examples have shown you how Phone Language emphasizes the development of a relationship. Be aware of what you are saying to new prospects on the phone and don’t use words that imply that you have already been accepted as their advisor – that’s selling!

Gail B. Goodman is president of ConsulTel in Bedford Hills, N.Y.