This is a true story. The names have been changed to protect the guilty…
Ring, ring, ring…
Sales Representative: “Hello Wendy, I’m (Name) with (Company Name). I just called to see how things are going.”
Wendy: “Things are going fine. Why are you calling?”
Sales Representative: “I just called to see how things are.”
Wendy: “Things are fine.”
Sales Representative: “OK. Well I’m here if you need me.”
Wendy: “Why should I need you?”
It turns out that this sales professional was calling to schedule a demo of a product. We had actually requested the demo after a lengthy conversation with a different sales rep. My Director of Operations usually takes care of scheduling these types of events and when this rep called, I was working on something with an approaching deadline. This company’s demo was the last thing on my mind. I didn’t make the connection and I had absolutely no idea why this salesperson was calling me. Clearly, neither did he.
“I just called to see how things are going” has to be the lamest follow-up question of all time. Although, it is running neck and neck with, “I just called to follow-up.” Neither question elicits any information, neither moves the sales process forward and both are frequently annoying to your prospect who perhaps has absolutely no idea why you have called.
In all fairness, this sales person was not the original contact and perhaps the original contact did not give him all of the background. He should have, however, first asked himself some questions before ever picking up the phone:
“What is the purpose/goal of my call?”
“What is the history with this prospect?”
“Where are we with this opportunity?”
“What is the next step for this prospect?”
Any of these questions would have sufficed. Then this representative would have had a focus and a goal for his call.
The rule is: Never reach out to your prospect without having a goal in mind. What do you want to accomplish with your communications? Do you want to gather information? Do you want the prospect to commit to some action? Do you want agreement on the next step in your sales process? Once you have your goal in mind you can then determine the appropriate approach. (Hint: “I just called to see how things are going” is not it.)