24/02/2013 17:24 GMT | Updated 25/04/2013 06:12 BST

Phone Rage - How to Defuse Initial Negativity on New Business Calls

There are ways in which it is simply not acceptable to talk to each other. We all get that but...

Only last week I was driving around a roundabout minding my own business when a woman in a car -with a small kid beside her- decided to unleash a volley of abuse at the car next to her, swearing, giving the bird and behaving like a animal. We all hate road-rage but if we're honest, have probably felt at least a little bit of it in our time on the roads.

However, I worry that this 'rage' may be creeping into business and more specifically into the way people use the phone.

Can you imagine anything more upsetting for someone who's made a whole career and business out of making phone calls?


Sure big business types have had slanging matches in the course of business history and most of us will have put the phone down at some point and gone 'what a t***' but that's not what I'm talking about here.

What I'm talking about is the tough guys and girls that are hiding behind a couple of hundred grams of plastic, who think that they can say what they like because they're on the phone and not stood in front of you. More specifically I'm talking about those who have spent most of their life as a supplier that, in turn, take great joy in tongue-whipping their suppliers.

At Retriever we give them a choice - to have the conversation or not - and what's more, we have the skills to create positive outcomes from almost every call we make but it does happen and it pisses me off.

If you read my blog on bringing life values into business then you'll have a sense of how this aggression irks me.

Having spent most of my adult life making cold calls and trying to generate new business for others I feel like I've seen and heard it all. My style on the phone has always been to disarm people by telling them what they're thinking.

- 'Hi, my name's Mark and I'm calling from Retriever.'


At this point if you leave a pause you're going to get some kind of reaction. Sometimes it's a grunt or a 'yes'? or a 'Oh I'm too busy', etc. but if you listen to their reaction you can pretty much tell what kind of person they are.

So sometimes you get a:

- 'Oh hi, how're you doing and how can I help?'

Whatever the reaction you can gauge what your next move's going to be but one line that never failed me was this:

- 'I'm calling from Retriever. We're a new business consultancy but you're probably sick of getting cold calls so I'll keep it brief if you have time to speak.'

Almost always they'll appreciate the acknowledgment and give you the time of day. From that point it's down to your commercial and communication skills to engage them, get them hooked and get a conversation moving.

Equally you might get someone that's more aggressive and opens with:

- 'Look, I just don't have time to talk and whatever you're offering I'm not interested.'

So my reaction would be:

- 'That's fine. I know you get loads of calls so I'll leave you to it but just so you know I'm calling about new business.'

So what about aggression in business then?

Just because you're in any position of power it doesn't give you the right to treat others badly. You were there once working your way up and if you behave like that you'll be there again so,

entrepreneurs; hear me well - be part of the wave of intelligent, human and considerate business people in industry.

All you need to do is disarm, engage and listen. It always works.