"How Are You - Really?"

Question: Have you ever said or heard, “How are you” when you make or receive a phone call?

Answer: I recently had a conversation with one of our readers who happens to be a sales professional for a major corporation. We were discussing initial telephone conversation with people that she hadn’t done business with in the past. In other words, a cold call. I asked her to role play with me right on the spot and the conversation began like this:

Hello George, this is “Mary” from the XYZ Corporation. How are you today? My immediate response was to tell her what I’ve told many other sales people I have trained and the dialog usually goes something like this;

“….well my back is bothering me today, and my legs are in severe pain. My left shoulder which is the side I use my cane seems to really be taking a beating of late and I’m certain my bowels are backed up as well. I thank you for asking and how are you?” I’ve actually used this on high pressure sales people when they get me on the phone and ask, “How are you?” Mainly because they don’t know and I firmly believe they could care less how I am. And it’s a fabulous way of throwing them off their game. So why do so many of use that phrase in each and almost EVERY phone we make or receive?

Possibly to soften the approach or pretend we really care? Recipients’ of our phone calls have become case hardened to these insincere emotional approaches. It goes back to business as usual which isn’t working well. It goes back to the fact that we are creatures of habit and tend to take the path of least resistance instead of reinventing ourselves.

So here is my advice, aka the Mancusoism of the week and I know that it’s worth what you paid for it UNLESS it works for you, then you can classify it as priceless! When YOU make a phone call such as this, the recipient gets an immediate picture of you from your demeanor. So if you have ONLY one chance to make that first impression, why not speak;
a. with authority
b. professionally
c. determined not overbearing
d. with a determination to get down to business
e. slow enough for the listener to understand you
f. clearly
g. lay out the course of the call within the first 25 – 30 words
h. AND end those words with a question that requires more than a yes or no answer.

Can it be done? Of course but only if YOU invest a few minutes in yourself and write down the opening script, practice it and play the devil’s advocate with yourself by defining various answers you might receive and be prepared to continue the professional mode WITHOUT overwhelming the listener or trying to feed them too much information too fast.

Once you establish a relationship, and you find yourself really caring about the other person, by all means ask them, “How are you?”

As always, please accept my wishes for a tremendous week. And don’t forget your opinions, comments or questions are always welcome. If I can be of any assistance to you, please call or write and I will respond immediately!

George F. Mancuso
Gman Business Resources
Grinnell, Iowa