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Stop being so darned polite

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The other day I was speaking with the vice president of a large company. We were discussing the good, the bad and the ugly of sales and selling. When I broached the topic of prospecting calls, he shook his head and expressed his frustration.

“I can always tell when it’s a salesperson calling,” he said, “because they all sound the same. They say ‘Hi, Mr. Williams. It’s Bob Smith calling from My Company. How are you today?’ I know they mean well, but I highly doubt that they really care how I’m doing, and quite frankly, I don’t have time to waste on social chit-chat—especially with someone I don’t know.”

He continued, saying, “Salespeople don’t have to be so polite. They need to get to the point and tell me why they’re calling. I’m not suggesting they act rude or treat me with disdain, but they need to respect my time and cut to the chase quickly. Tell me how I’m going to benefit by listening to them.”

I later spoke to one of the top salespeople at the executive’s company who told me that he used the “Hi, how are you today?” approach when he first started selling. He went on to say that his results improved dramatically once he took a more direct approach but admitted that it took a lot of practice at first. The executives he called on, however, didn’t seem to mind or even notice when he dispensed with the insincere inquiry into their wellbeing.

Here’s the deal: If you sell to directors, VPs, C-level or any other senior executive prospects, stop being so nice and start being more direct. They will appreciate and respect it, and you will achieve better results.

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