Whether it’s an email or cold call, saying “how are you” is:
C. None of the above
Correct, you are, if you said none of the above! Why?
-If you really care how I am, you’ll pick up the phone. Asking “how are you” in an email is tantamount to saying I have no clever way to begin this message so I’ll pretend to care about you. (Years ago there was a great study on the Princeton campus. A group of undergrads were told to answer with a 4-letter expletive that started with the letter “F” when they were asked how they were. The hitch was that their body language was supposed to indicate that the F-word they were saying was the word, fine. They were to smile and say the other F-word, as happily as possible. “Hi, Sue, How are you?” “*&(*)_*” If I recall, less than 10% of the askers heard the actual response probably because they didn’t care about the answer to begin!)
-If you’re cold calling, you are a stranger to me. Why would I tell you how am I? Not only that, but you’ve already interrupted me with your cold call and now you expect that I’ll have the time for small talk. I don’t think so.
So what then?
In a cold call, start with your name and a touch point; tell them how you know them. Be transparent about the connection:
Hi this is SpeakerSue and I’m a colleague in the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of MPI.
Hi this is SpeakerSue and Michael Brady suggested I phone you.
Hi this is SpeakerSue and you and I met briefly at the trade show last week.
Hi this is SpeakerSue and you and I were on the buffet line together at the ASAE meeting last month.
Hi this is SpeakerSue and your name was given to me because you book meetings.
Then, of course, you have to have something to say that will matter to the buyer:
Hi this is SpeakerSue and I’m a colleague in the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of MPI. Name, I’m wondering if the meetings you plan are similar to Sophie Spaniel’s meetings (a well-known colleague in the chapter).
Prospect: Actually, Sophie’s meetings are much bigger than mine and, who is this?
You: Thanks for asking! My name is Sue Hershkowitz-Coore, most people just call me SpeakerSue because it is so much easier. I’m sorry we haven’t met at the AZ MPI chapter. The reason I asked about Sophie’s meetings, and thank you for letting me know that hers are bigger, is that we just helped her put on a meeting that she said, and I’m quoting her now, “gave her sales people exactly what they need to sell more.”
Prospect: What did you do?
You: We crafted a presentation around the results she needed from her meeting; her goal was to make sure her sales people felt appreciated, and she wanted them to leave with practical tools and fresh ideas to start positioning themselves for a better 2010.
Prospect: Who did you say you are?…..
Instead of going for the totally lame “how are you” default, be bold and brave! Say hello, mention the touchpoint and know what you want to know from the conversation. (In this case, I wanted to know if her meetings and Sophie’s were similar. Notice that I didn’t ask her if she planned meetings or anything else that I could easily discover from a review of the company’s website.)
Replace how are you with something that matters to the recipient. You’ll be amazed at how much prospects will tell you once they feel that you care about them, instead of just pretending to.