“Everyone lies,” as TV’s master diagnostician, Dr. Gregory House, famously noted.
We all do it. Often we’re just being tactful. Telling someone we’re about to walk into a meeting can be an expedient way to end a conversation.
On the other side, when we’re searching for sales prospects, we need to qualify those put-offs and quickly determine if it’s a clear message that we’re barking up the wrong tree, or merely a slight a bump in the road.
It’s hard to get decision-makers on the phone, and we don’t want to waste time trying to re-contact someone who isn’t at all interested in what we offer.
In other words, we need agile qualification skills to separate ‘dead-end’ targets from those who are simply busy, preoccupied, or hesitant.
Take these three examples:
“She’s not in right now” (“She’s in a meeting,” “She’s out at lunch,” etc.)
Of course you don’t know for sure if that’s the case, but if you suspect the gatekeeper is winking at her boss across the room and calling back later will only get more of the same responses, you could explain briefly why you’re calling and ask in a sincere and lighthearted way, “Do you think she’s take my call at a better time?”
That query, if done effectively, can save you a lot of wasted effort.
In many smaller companies the gatekeepers know a lot about these issues and can be a tremendous resource to help you determine what further efforts to make – if any.
“I’m about to step into a meeting. You’ll have to call me back.”
“I won’t keep you then. Just one quick question: Are you open to comparing insurance options for your business?” You could add a few words about how you’ve helped others in their industry, or about your value proposition – but keep it short and pithy.
“I’ve got to ask my partner about this. Gimme a call next week.”
“Good. Can I email some details about how we help [your class of business] to share with your partner?” This lets you acquire their email address, and maybe explore their buying attitude further.
You might suggest a conference call with both parties, or offer to save them the trouble by reaching out to that other person directly.
A Sense of Humor
In any of these situations, a ready sense of humor can be the most effective short cut to quickly determine the other person’s true motives. With a warm smile in your voice, just ask, “Are you saying that just to get me off the phone now?”
This lighthearted query can cut through an awful lot of tactful subterfuge. And I’m not lying.