I see this advice frequently from sales trainers, seasoned cold callers, and LinkedIn posters: the first thing you should do when engaging your prospect over the phone, and after you introduce yourself, is to ask “Did I catch you at a bad time?“, or, stated in the positive, “Is this a good time to talk?“.
Most common reason for this approach is that you must establish a ‘social contract’ with your prospect before proceeding with a conversation.
This approach is a cheap smoke screen masquerading as authenticity and genuineness. If you really want to ask permission, then what you should be asking is “Did I catch you at a bad time for a sales call?“, or “Is this a good time for a sales call?“. I think we all know how that would go over.
No one can make a decision about how to spend the next 2-5 minutes of their time unless they know what it is they will be doing, and why it might be of value to them. They must have the information they need to assess if the next 2-5 minutes speaking to you, is potentially more valuable than hanging up and continuing whatever activity they were doing before you interrupted them.
Here’s my advice to you, give them that information first.
It looks like this, delivered all at once, slowly and confidently, but with no opportunity for interruption…
- Introduction – your first name and your company.
- Relevance – what it is you learned in your research about the prospect (not your product) that compelled you to call them.
- Problem You Solve – What pain or need you address for your customers (You get one line here. That’s it. So make it good.)
- Discovery Question – Open-ended and designed to start the conversation.
At Reveneer, we named this call opening our Gambit, and we’ve trained hundreds of BDRs on how to do it. It’s the key to creating consistency across your team, and predictability in conversation rates.
So, forget about asking permission. Like many things in life, it’s much easier to ask for forgiveness if you get shut down. Instead, start delivering your Gambit, and watch your conversation rates climb!