"Stuff We Make Up" About Our Prospects

by Wendy Weiss

Hardly a phrase to arouse conflict--but astonishingly, it does!

"Please tell (your prospect) that (your name) from (your company) is on the line" is the phrase that I advise introductory callers to use with secretaries in answer to the question, "What is this in reference to?" [Note: Do not use this answer with a receptionist--that is a different situation with a different response. Receptionists aren't screening--they're saying, "There is no one here by that title."]

Routinely, when I'm conducting workshops or working one-on-one with coaching clients, people tell me this phrase sounds "rude," "pushy" or "too aggressive." They fear that in saying this phrase to a secretary, that secretary may respond negatively and keep them from their prospect.

This is fascinating. The words themselves are neutral. "Please tell (your prospect) that (your name) from (your company) is on the line." There's even a "please" at the beginning of the sentence to make it polite!

What causes this uproar? Let's imagine that Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon Products, Inc., calls your prospect and says to the secretary, "Please tell (your prospect) that Andrea Jung from Avon is on the line." Is she being "rude," "pushy" or "too aggressive"?

How about President George W. Bush? If he calls your prospect and says to the secretary, "Please tell (your prospect) that George W. Bush is on the line," is he being "rude," "pushy" or "too aggressive"?

If you believe that Andrea Jung and George W. Bush can say this sentence and you cannot, what does this say about your belief system? Do you believe that you and what you have to say are not important enough? If so, it is time to change the way you think. "Pushy," "too aggressive," and "rude " are all judgements that you put on yourself. Put another way, it's "stuff you make up."

Remember that on an introductory call, your prospect's secretary (just like your prospect) is a stranger. You have no way of knowing what that prospect's secretary is thinking. You can choose to believe that she will view you as "rude," "pushy" or "too aggressive" or you can choose to believe that she will view you as confident, in control and having something important to say. In the first scenario, your expectation is that she will "screen you out." In the second scenario, your expectation is that she would put your call through, that you and your call are important.

Your expectations can become self-fulfilling prophecies. The first expectation is self-defeating. You are "doomed before you dial." The second is empowering--whether or not you actually reach that prospect. There are always more prospects, and you have the power to make more calls. Your expectation that your call is important and that you will eventually reach your prospect puts you in control.

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