Cold Calling? Know the Answers to These Two Questions

April 3, 2016
Mary Jane Copps

Worried woman


Imagine for a  moment that you are at your desk working on a project, proposal or responding to email. Your phone rings. You look at call display but do not recognize the phone number. Curiosity trumps the irritation of being interrupted and you answer the call. Someone begins speaking to you; you do not recognize their voice.

What happens next?

Well, the first thing is  – you become defensive. After over 50 years of receiving uncomfortable and inappropriate “telemarketing” calls in our homes, we are well trained to be suspicious and annoyed about unexpected calls from strangers.

But something else happens as well. Two questions arise in your mind, flashing like Las Vegas neon lights: What is this about? What’s it got to do with me?

And this is exactly what happens when you reach a prospect on the phone. These two questions persist, loudly, in their minds, distracting them from interacting with you, until they receive answers … or they end the call.

So … if you truly want to inspire conversation with your prospects, use your initial phone call to discover need and offer solutions, you must know the answers to these questions and provide them immediately.

For example, when calling a business with an inside sales team, I would start the call like this:  Hi Joan, it’s Mary Jane Copps calling from The Phone Lady. The reason for my call today is … .

The phrase “The reason for my call today is” lets the prospect know that I have an answer to the first question. It grabs their attention and eliminates the distraction of “What is this about?” You can also use phrases like “I’m calling today because” or “This call is about”. What you don’t want to do is use up time talking about health or the weather. The longer you delay in getting to the reason for your call, the more likely you will lose the opportunity for conversation.

As soon as your prospect hears that you are going to share the reason for your call, they will give you their full attention for approximately 20 seconds. In this 20 seconds, you have to answer the second question: What’s this got to do with me?

This is where you need to craft your call – be prepared. Because this 20 seconds is vital to your success in creating relationship with your prospect. And it cannot be about you. It has to speak directly to the reason you chose to call them and the value you offer. For example:

“Hi Joan, it’s Mary Jane Copps calling from The Phone Lady. The reason for my call today is I understand you have a team of people there making outbound sales calls. I work with teams like your’s, giving them the skills they need to be more effective on the phone and produce more revenue.”

In less than 20 seconds I have shared with the prospect that I’ve done my research, that this isn’t a random sales calls. I’ve also told her that I’ve worked with similar teams. And I’ve told her the results/benefits. I have thoroughly answered the question “What’s this got to do with me?”

With the questions answered, the distraction is eliminated and the prospect is now able to engage in conversation. How do you make that happen? That’s next week’s post. In the meantime, let me know how this information is helping you with your cold calls.

Enjoy your phone work everyone!


  1. Steve Foran says:

    Simple, yet brilliant. Thank you for sharing this often forgotten advice… at least I often forget it.

  2. Jacqueline Steudler says:

    Will keep my weather talk out of the way in the future. (smile)
    Thank you for this

  3. […] Your success on the phone is directly connected to your ability to inspire a “yes”. This involves crafting and delivering a thoughtful 20-second pitch and expressing your genuine interest in the prospect, their work and thei… […]

  4. […] we follow up with potential customers, or when we cold call them, we need to answer two questions very quickly: 1.What’s this about? 2.What’s it got to do with me? Then we want to engage their ego […]

  5. […] week I introduced you to the two questions you must answer – quickly – at the beginning of every cold call.  When you accomplish this, you eliminate distractions for your prospect and – if […]

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