What to Say During Your First Call With a Prospect

During my first six years in sales I used to start off every in-person appointment or initial phone call with something like,

“Thanks for your time this morning.”

To me, it just felt right and courteous to say that.

Then in 2000 I came across a book titled Solution Selling: Creating Buyers in Difficult Selling Markets by Michael Bosworth. This book changed my approach to prospect conversations. Bosworth emphasized that you should never start off that initial meeting by thanking the prospect for seeing you or talking with you.

Why? Because it sends the wrong message.

It says that what you have to offer is not very valuable. So feel “lucky” that the prospect is taking valuable time out of his day to meet with you.

And you know what? He’s right!

When I asked myself (I mean REALLY asked myself) why I was saying that, I realized that I was coming to the meeting or to the call with a subservient mindset.

I didn’t feel worthy. And it showed in everything I did. Not overtly. But my energy and demeanor were that of someone with low self-confidence.

Anyway, here’s what Bosworth suggested: Rather than thanking the prospect for their time, say, “I appreciate the opportunity to meet with you today.”

(Or if it’s a phone call, say, “I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you today.”)

And then … shut up for four seconds.

When you make this minor shift, you position yourself as a peer — as an equal.

You’re stealthily communicating to your prospect that you are a professional. You value your time just as much as she does. And the prospect is not doing you a favor by meeting with you.

She has a need to fill. You have a skill that (probably) matches that need. You’re on equal ground. And if she hires you, you’ll be exchanging value for value.

It’s not charity. You’re not “lucky.” It’s a potential transaction where equal value will be exchanged.

Oh, and about that 4-second pause…

I like it because it adds emphasis to what you just said, and it allows that message to sink in with the prospect.

Anyway, give this a try. Use that greeting word for word.

And mean it when you say it to a prospect! 😉

Oh, and I’d love to hear back from you once you’ve had a use it a few times. Let me know how it worked for you.



  • Bonnie A Schooler

    Happy Father’s Day Ed:) and thanks for the advice, I will try it when I get a client!

  • I’m in , Ed! I really appreciate the simple scripts / tips you post like this! Always solid and easy to implement.

  • Thanks for emphasizing that we use it word for word. I think we don’t like using scripts because we fear being too mechanical and not sincere.

    But, the words we use are powerful!

    If that weren’t true, I wouldn’t be a copywriter. Using it word for word is more to get a reaction out of me rather than the prospect, because I’m the one who really needs to change.

    Thanks for the insight into my own self-sabotage!

  • Lisa Stockwell

    Love scripts. But since it feels a little formal for me to use this word for word, would “I’m happy we have the chance to talk today,” have the same impact?

  • xenyen

    Oh, yes. I have had a tough time dropping the thank you habit. Finally did it. In fact, during an interview yesterday, I declined to work for them. Why? they were discourteous. So I politely said, ‘Your values do not resonate with me. Punctuality and respect are core values for me. So I will end this interview here. I am no longer interested in this job. All the best.’ Still feel good about it.

  • Katherine_Andes

    I learned from a PR person to always ask a reporter when you got him on the phone, “Is this a good time to talk?” They always appreciate it. So I do the same with prospects … usually it’s “Is this a good time to chat, it will only take a few minutes.” Almost always, they say “sure” and if they don’t, they give me a time to call back.