Whenever I conduct a workshop or Webinar, invariably someone asks the question:
"What should I say when the prospect says, 'I'm not interested?'"

My response invariably is: "It's probably too late."

Certainly you can try to recover from that "I'm not interested" response. You can ask, "Why do you say that?" (Say this gently, as though you are confused and really, really want the answer.) You can repeat back: "Not interested?" (Again, say this gently, as though you are confused.) This sometimes gets people to start talking and explain themselves. Bottom line, however, if everyone that you speak with says, "I'm not interested," you're not saying anything interesting.

If you have a compelling script with stellar delivery, you will hardly ever hear the words, "I'm not interested."

On the telephone, you have approximately 10-20 seconds to grab your prospect's attention - and if you don't, your call is probably over. You can't convey a lot of information in 10-20 seconds. Instead, what you'll convey is your energy, your confidence and your excitement. Your words must reach out and immediately hook your prospect's attention.

From the moment your prospect says, "Hello," your goal is to gain your prospect's attention so that she is hungry to hear more. If you don't hook your prospects in the beginning of your conversation, they will not want to speak with you. They will say, "I'm not interested," and worse, they may hang up on you.

In order to hook your prospect, ask yourself: Whom are you calling? Why should they be interested? You're looking for hot buttons, those issues that are so important to your prospect that when they come up, your prospect stops in her tracks to listen. The big point here is that when you are trying to hook someone, you have to have some sense of what's important to them.

Ask yourself: What is the value that I (the company/product/service) bring to customers? How do they benefit? How do I (the company/product/service) make customer's lives easy, stress-free, happy, profitable etc? You may have to do some market research and/or brainstorming here. Once you've determined that value, however, lead with it.

Here's an example:

Last year when I conducted the "Cold Calling College--Live" group coaching program, I received an e-mail from a participant. He said he was calling owners of mid-size companies and not having much success. His e-mail read:

"...I say my name and company and then say 'we specialize in business performance management solutions for budgeting, reporting and analysis.... I hear 'not interested' then they hang up before I can say anything else.

Another thing I have tried is, '...the reason I am calling is to introduce [company name]'s budgeting reporting analysis solutions and to invite you to an Excel seminar....' But after this I hear, 'not interested,' then they hang up before I can say anything else."

It's hardly surprising that these introductions didn't work. They weren't interesting. There was nothing in those first sentences to grab and hook a business owner's attention.

Later on, after going through the "Cold Calling College" process, the person who wrote this e-mail was able to pare his introduction down. His introduction ended up being something like: "We help companies keep the money they make." Short, sweet, to the point and focused on the value to business owners. Prospects stopped hanging up on him. Instead, he was able to start scheduling meetings with those business owners.

Lesson learned: Do your homework. Do whatever is necessary to truly understand your prospects. Before you ever pick up the phone, have the answer to the question: "Why should this prospect be interested?" If you have that answer, you will never again hear: "I'm not interested."