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A Thing


Mind Your Manners


By Cheri English, Sales Concepts, Inc.

I grew up hearing these words. They were firmly embedded in my mind long before I understood their power. I believe they are good words to live by, not only in our personal lives, but professionally as well.

Those of us who use the telephone extensively for sales need to remember some basic manners that often are overlooked. They open doors and create opportunities. An example:

The other day I called a new prospect. Someone in the company referred me to the proper person. The person who referred me was an achiever and very abrupt. I expected the same from the person I was calling. When she answered, I quickly introduced myself and asked her, “Have I reached you at a convenient time?” She immediately responded, “You are one of a few salespeople who ever asked me if I had time to talk. If you had not asked me, I would not have taken your call. Yes, I will talk with you.” She followed with, “I hope you teach this in your training.” We do!

We talked for quite some time. Had I not asked, perhaps I may never have spoken with her. Salespeople often jump into their “pitch” fearing rejection. However, it is just that approach that shuts more doors than it opens.

What about the golden words please  and thank you? Do you ask permission for your customer’s time and thank them afterward? How often do you interrupt while they are talking? If you are an achiever or animated, it is difficult not to do the talking. If you are analytical or amiable, be careful you do not get carried way with questions and investigating. Be aware of the prospect’s time; periodically ask if you may continue. If you need more information and you know the customer can give you only a few minutes, schedule another telephone appointment.

We have all experienced being placed on hold while the individual talking with us takes another call. It is rude to place a call on hold. Never place your prospect/customer on hold unless he/she is aware ahead of time that you may need to interrupt the conversation. If you expect a lengthy delay before you can return to the conversation, give him/her the choice to end the call.

Address individuals by their sir names until they give you permission to use nicknames. Voice mail messages may say Bobby, Al, Ron, Chip, etc., but those may be terms of endearment used by people familiar with them. You may wish to ask, “Do you prefer to be called Bobby or Robert?” Don’t overuse their names in conversation. People like to hear their names, but if you insert it into every other sentence it becomes annoying and presumptuous.

When leaving a voice mail message, remember to slow down, state your name, your phone number, and clearly spell difficult or unfamiliar names. In a live conversation you may ask, “Would you like me to repeat my number?”

Give your prospect alternative ways to reach you. Your customer’s time is too important to get lost in voice mail. Suggest other people in the company who may be able to reach you, or who can help should you not answer your call. Give your customer/prospect your cellular phone number or pager number so you may be reached for urgent calls.

Finally, listen. It is just good manners to listen to what the other person has to say. You may get more information than you expected.

Sales Concepts, Inc., is a Roswell-GA based provider of tailored training for people who work in sales, service, telemarketing, and management. For more information about Sales Concepts, Inc., call (800) 229-2328 or visit

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