It’s typical for a sales rep to start off a call by saying, "Is this a bad time to talk?" or "Did I catch you at a bad time?" These may seem like harmless greetings, but they may actually start the entire sales process off on the wrong foot. According to a recent article by HubSpot writer Emma Brudner, “Starting off a connect call with "is this a bad time?" creates a plethora of problems that kill the sale out of the gate.”
In her article, Brudner gives seven reasons why these phrases are so lethal to a potential sale, and a few are included below:
You are stating the obvious.
Really, is there any time where you welcome an interrupting call? Probably not. By immediately asking if it’s a good time to talk, you are opening up the conversation with a pretty obvious question. Don’t annoy the prospect or waste his or her time with superfluous questions.
Everyone asks it.
These phrases are pretty common greetings, especially among salespeople. Why not strive to stand out? Come up with a greeting that isn’t overused but instead immediately shows the prospect that he or she can expect something different from you and your company.
You put buyers on the defensive.
“By asking about the businessperson's time, it automatically implies that you'd like to take some,” Brudner explains. “Uh oh. You've just encouraged the prospect to protect their limited hours … by hanging up on you immediately.”
You come across as insecure.
These questions serve to seek permission to speak with the prospect, which can make you seem insecure rather than confident and take-charge. Additionally, some nervous prospects actually do use these lines to let themselves off the hook. Knowing it's likely not to be a good time, the rep doesn’t have to go through with the call.
As Brudner points out, it never really is a good time to receive a sales call. Don’t waste the prospect’s time with empty questions. Instead, as she suggests, “provide the prospect with something of value and you can turn the worst time into time well spent.”