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I have very few guilty pleasures in life but decent coffee, a book and great customer service are three I would mention. You give me a flat white, served by an engaging and appreciative barista and I’ll keep going back for more.

In fact it was while I was enjoying a cup of joe with Dave, my personal fitness trainer, that the issue of customer service or ‘customer value’ as I prefer to call it, cropped up.

You see, Dave was complaining about how very few prospects ring him back when he leaves a message on their voicemail – as I listened into one of Dave’s calls, it was clear he had problems…

Dave: “Hi Jenny, this is Dave I’m calling you again to introduce myself and my company to you” (I’m like…) Really? This isn’t a Chamber event or BNI breakfast session…

Dave: “I provide personal training plans that work and would like to meet to discuss them with you” (So I’m thinking…) Seriously? This is way too early to be asking for a meeting or talking about results without supporting facts…

Dave: “I’ve been in business for 10 years and I’m the most experienced personal trainer in the area…” (Now I’m definitely thinking…) Who cares? And according to which independent analytical set of metrics?

Mistakes like that put the likelihood of Jenny returning Dave’s call at best, NIL. As the Barista presented me with another spectacular java-based creation, I offered Dave a few tips to help him improve his patter and increase the likelihood that his prospects would want to call him back;

  • Find something out about the prospect before you make the call – its common sense I know but so few sales people I meet do this! Yes, rapport is important but there has to be an emotional link which will get the conversation onto them and towards your solution as soon as possible.

“Hi James, this is Dave from XYZ Fitness, you invited me to connect on LinkedIn earlier this week. I noticed on your profile page that you’re running your first London Marathon this year….”    


  • It’s all about them, never about you – let’s be clear, your prospect doesn’t care about you or your product they only care about themselves and whether what you have will benefit them. Put yourself in their shoes, what have you got that will help them increase their profit, reduce their cost or get them more sales?

“Some of the comments on your page suggest you are experiencing difficulty with staying on-track – as a personal fitness trainer who has run a number of marathons myself, I can understand that. Staying focussed and being highly motivated to achieve your goals are all skills that you could benefit from with help.”  


  • Save dinner for the second date – I accept human beings are a social species, but forcing yourself into someone’s space too early is unnecessary and frankly naive – don’t do it. Instead, ask your prospect if they would be willing to answer some relevant questions about their subject matter – most will agree, people genuinely like to help. Done really well, it can allow both parties to create real understanding and start to build a level of trust without compromising time or the jeopardising the relationship.

“I’d like to arrange a time when I can call you to ask a few questions about your current training plan and race aspirations; it might even allow me to give you some additional helpful information. I’ll call you again tomorrow at 7pm but if you want to get in touch before then, my number is…”  


Creating a mind-set of  “how can I help this person?” before you pick up the phone to call is a great habit to cultivate. Recognising in advance that your primary objective is to deliver value for the other person will naturally move your language in that direction and make the opportunity of a return call far more likely.

Does it guarantee success?

As Dorothea Brande said…

“To guarantee success, act as if it were impossible to fail”


About the author: Matt Sykes is founder of Sales Training company Salescadence. He works predominantly with Personality-led Business Owners to help them convert more of their leads into customers via transformational products which improve their Sales Mindset, Sales Ability & Sales Process.


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