I recently came across an article on the CNBC website that suggested that we stop asking people “how are you?” when we’re making small talk. I focused on it because I agree. Even Harvard researchers say that “How are you?” is among the most useless statements that you can make. It’s a throwaway statement and doesn’t move the conversation forward.

But reading further into the article, I saw some suggested alternatives that quite frankly made me laugh out loud. Granted, I am looking at this from the point of view of a salesperson with expertise in cold calling.  From this perspective, I think you need to be careful about taking recommendations for conversation openers because it depends on the situation.

In my experience when you’re trying to engage someone, particularly in the early stages, it has to be done a certain way.

This article suggests using the A.C.T. Criteria to create a greeting. “A” stands for Authenticity, C stands for making a Connection, and “T” represents a topic that gives them a taste of who you are. I think this makes a lot of sense.

But when it came to the suggestions in the article, I just had to chuckle. They suggested questions such as:

‘what’s your current state of mind?’, or

‘what are you looking forward to this week?’, and

‘you remind me of a celebrity but I can’t remember which one….’

In the situations I often find myself in as a cold caller, these come across as either invasive, (state of mind) or ingratiating (you remind me of…).

I don’t think these are appropriate starters when it comes to cold calling.  Taking the wrong approach could put you in a “negative” starting position compared to “How are you” which is just bland and non-productive.

But still, the A.C.T. concept is quite valid.  My team and I will often start a call like this:

“We don’t know each other, but I’d appreciate it if I could take just 30 seconds of your time to tell you why I am calling, and then we can determine whether it makes sense to talk more.”

A: (Authenticity): We don’t know each other

C: (Connection):  I’d appreciate it if I could take just 30 seconds of your time…

T: (Topic/Taste): …to tell you why I am calling and then we can determine whether it makes sense to talk more.

Nothing is more authentic than acknowledging exactly what is happening. You create the kind of connection you need quickly and then you can jointly determine whether more time should be spent together.  Your ultimate goal in a cold call is to see if there is a fit between what you’re offering and what they need.

In being truly authentic and making that connection, you’ve indicated that it’s okay for them to say ‘no’ and that you’re not going to take much of the time. What better outcome can there be in an introduction?

At One of a Kind Sales, we are experts at cold calling. if you need help with lead generation or with getting your inside sales team to the next level, reach out to us at 908-879-2911.