Questions are an excellent way to invite the suspect into conversation. The questions you ask when you first make contact are conversational questions. They seek information but mainly they stimulate conversation. The first question demonstrates your consideration for the suspect.
Sales Person: Good morning Mrs. Brown. I’m Scott Baird from Azure Technology. Melvin Gibson suggested I give you a call. Did I catch you at a good time?
One reason for asking a question here, no matter what the question, is to give the suspect an opportunity to tell you that this is not a good time, that they are busy with something else. This respect for the suspect goes against all the sales doctrine of most sales training, but it adds to your professionalism and respectability.
When you are using a referral source when first making contact, the mutual connection and respect you share with the suspect and the source should be strong enough to keep the suspect from dismissing you without the courtesy of a brief conversation.
Another question is a variation of making sure you are talking to the right person in the organization. The question is slightly more direct than the positioning statement.
Sales Person: Good morning Mrs. Brown. I’m Scott Baird from Azure Technology. I understand you are in charge of Information Technology at Brown and Brown. Did I get that right?
Another question that is frequently used to invite engagement with a suspect is less effective.
Sales Person: Good morning Mrs. Brown. I’m Scott Baird from Azure Technology. How are you today?
The reason for including this example is because it is so prevalent. I don’t like this question because it is a weak question. It doesn’t position you, and it doesn’t secure additional information. Furthermore, the question exposes a lack of sincerity on the part of the sales person. Everyone knows the sales person doesn’t really care about the health or well being of the suspect. On the other hand, my dislike for the question has softened over the years, for the simple reason that “how are you?” is so ubiquitous. It seems that most people really don’t mind that the questioner doesn’t care about the condition of their health. I still maintain it is a weak question and indicates a lack of thought and effort on the part of the sales person.