How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Verifying the person
When you phone a person in cold-call sales or prospecting, the first thing you probably want to know is that they are the person that you expect. Verifying the person both ensures your assumptions are correct about who you are speaking with.
Verifying the person is likely to be your first words to them, and it is well known that impressions are formed in the first few seconds, so it is critical to get this right.
Unless you have been passed to the person by someone else (and maybe even then), it can be helpful to verify the name of the person on the other end of the phone.
Even in this short task, your words can make a difference. Consider the following few sentences.
Is that Mr. Jones?
This uses a formal address of 'Mr. Jones', which is often a good start. Do not use informal names until somewhat later. However, it is also rather short and peremptory statement. It may be sufficient but may also be felt as being rather curt.
Am I speaking to Mr. Jones?
This is more conversational and slightly longer, which gives you more opportunity to convey what a nice person you are through the varying tone of your voice. It however still misses a couple of tricks.
Am I talking with Mr. Harry Jones?
Here you are using their first name, with which they have strong identity attachment, yet this is within a formal frame and so should not offend.
Note also the difference between 'speaking to' in the previous quote and 'talking with' in this one. 'Speaking to' is a unidirectional action, with you projecting words at the other person. 'Talking with' has a more conversational element and implies that they are going to respond. This simple change can make the world of difference.
You may also want to verify their formal position or job. This is an important qualification, as it tells you if this person is the right person.
By speaking it, you also remind them of their job, which may include listening to people like you.
In this, you can use their job title or their role. Let's look at a few examples.
Are you the Marketing Manager of Alpha Soups?
This tests both their role and where they work and continues getting a 'yes', building their yes-set. Linking the two reminds them of their responsibility to the company.
You are the Marketing Manager of Alpha Soups?
This is a minor change but can have a significant effect. Saying 'you are' rather than 'are you' is a more assertive frame, but framed as a question it is usually acceptable. Nevertheless, by agreeing with you, they are putting themselves in a position where they are accepting your assertions and thus will more likely repeat this pattern in the future.
What is not covered, however, is what the marketing manager actually does.
Can I ask if you control placing of newspaper and visual media advertisements?
This focuses on what they do rather than the name of their job, which is perhaps more important for you. It also uses the cover of an easy 'can I ask' to probe for the detail you really want.