Kill the Old Smile and Dial

“Hi, my name is…”That’s about all you have to say on the telephone today for some prospects to realize five things instantly:

  1. You are not a friend or acquaintance.
  2. This is not a social call.
  3. You should not be trusted.
  4. You are invading their privacy.
  5. You want money!

Have you ever heard the prospect ask, “What are you selling?” before you even introduce yourself, or say, “I’m not interested,” before she has any idea of why you called?

There is a distinct sound affiliated with a telephone solicitation call. It is an abnormal tone that acts like a warning beacon to your prospective customers. It is that big smile in the voice; that overenthusiastic pep—it’s the old smile-and-dial mentality.

In a face-to-face interview, a professional salesperson is careful not to have “dollar signs” in his eyes. On the telephone, you cannot have dollar signs in your voice! Unfortunately, most salespeople are afflicted with this dreaded disease; I call it Money Mouth: a screeching, unrelenting, monotone, insensitive, robotic sounding, phony facade of a voice.

Money Mouth is directly responsible for more than 70% of all the problems a salesperson has on the telephone. On cold call or even a warmer call, at the first hello, the prospect gets a mental image of the salesperson. The big smile and unnaturally enthusiastic attitude project, in most cases, the image of the boiler-room atmosphere. The prospect immediately puts up barriers that force the salesperson to try to overcome these objections, which are not objections at all. They are natural defenses erected for protection from a possible harmful source.

The idea of the smile-and-dial routine may have made some sense in the 1960s, 1970s and perhaps the early 1980s. The philosophy was that during a telephone call the person on the receiving end could tell whether you were smiling or not by the sound of your voice. In theory, a smile will make your voice sound a little friendlier, and the prospect will feel your enthusiasm right through the telephone. Therefore, you should be smiling and excited!

Well, those thoughts are absolutely true, and that is the problem. Think about that for a second. Just why should you; a total stranger, be so overjoyed to meet this person? Imagine this: You walk into a clothing store and from the far side of the store a salesperson spots you. She starts waving her arms and screaming, “Hi! How are you?” Jumping over a row of chairs, she comes running toward you with a business card stuck to her forehead and a look of shear ecstasy in her face. She grabs you in a bear hug while shouting, “It’s sooo good to meet you! How can I serve you today?”

You may run out of the store holding on to your wallet, or look for a mirror to see if you have a big SUCKER sign spelled out on your face. In either case you will feel as though this person’s joy will come at your expense.

There is a big difference between a pleasant smile that says, “Hi. How are you today?”, and a big stupid grin that projects, “Have I got a deal for you!” You need to sound professional, but you must be natural. To be successful on the telephone, you must get the dollars signs out of your dialect!

Below are a few tips to help you eradicate a Money Mouth infection.

  1. DO NOT SMILE. This does not mean that you have to frown, be angry or have tears running down your face. Just lose that big phony smile. You should be pleasant, but not overjoyed.
  2. TONE DOWN THE ENTHUSIASM. There is a time during the call when you will get enthusiastic such as when explaining benefits to the customer, but it is not at the beginning of the call.
  3. DON’T BE PERFECT. Some sales people boast that they can recite their presentation flawlessly even if wakened from a deep sleep. However, pauses, small stutters and momentary broken chains of thought are present in every normal, unrehearsed conversation. Your presentation should include small “breaks” to minimize the “canned” sound. Your telephone sales presentation should be “planned” not “canned.”
  4. CAPTURE THE FRIENDLY VOICE. Tape-record yourself on the telephone when calling a friend or a relative, then tape-record yourself (your voice only) when making a prospecting sales call: a cold call. You will find your voice is more tense and formal on the sales call. You must try to use the natural tone and inflection of the friendly call on your sales calls. The words may be different on each type of call, but you need to try to capture the relaxed “tone” of the friendly call.
  5. SLOW DOWN AND SPEAK CLEARLY. Most salespeople have a tendency to speed up once familiar with his or her presentation. Slow down and be sure to enunciate each word carefully.

Once you can eliminate Money Mouth, you will find more prospects willing to listen to what you have to say.