Blog Post Don’t ask the prospect if he has time to speak

Don’t ask the prospect if he has time to speak



Don’t ask the prospect if he has time to speak


I was reading an old sales training book some time ago, in which the writer made the comment that it is only polite to ask the person you are ringing if they have time to speak at the moment. This is a mistake. I was sharing this with a friend and he told me that this was the way he was trained!

Please don’t fall into this trap even if you were at the same training course as my friend.


When you are making a telephone call to encourage a prospect to buy your product or service, or even just to make an appointment, you walk a difficult line. It is much easier to sell face to face as the customer can see you and can tell you are genuine. On the phone, the first few seconds are critical and it is important to avoid simple mistakes.

Let us imagine that you are a customer and I am a sales person. What would you be thinking if I were to start the conversation with, “Do you have time to speak to me at the moment?” My guess is that you are thinking negatively. You may be thinking; “Well I am busy, how much time will you be taking?” Or you may simply be thinking “This sounds like a sales person – I had better be on my guard.” However it goes, it will be negative.

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Time Telephone selling sales training

If you ask the prospect if he has time to talk to you, you will be building a wall between you that will be hard to break down. Having greeted the prospect and introduced myself I prefer to get straight into the reason for the call.

Sometimes, of course, the prospect will tell you that he is too busy, and this is your opportunity to practise your alternative close and make an appointment to ring him back.

Try this: “That’s okay John, we all get busy from time to time. When would be the best time to ring you back? Would Thursday afternoon be good for you or would Friday morning be better?”

Using the phone to sell can be very effective if it is done properly. You can make 30 calls in the same time it takes to visit one customer. And while your strike rate will probably be lower, even if it is one tenth of your strike rate when you are face to face, you will be making three times the sales.

Like many other things, this all comes with practice so get phoning and improve those skills, and don’t forget, don’t ask if they have the time.


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Check out the online course, Telephone Selling, from Richard Mulvey’s Business School for Entrepreneurs. You can have immediate access and make more successful telephone calls today.

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