We are a Danish firm, sometimes receiving calls from abroad. Some of the calls are from sales people. The conversation might be like follows:

"Acme Inc, may I help you".
"Hello, my name is John Doe. May I speak to the managing director." "What is the purpose of your call, please?"
I am asking about the last sentence
is it too rude?
how do (business-)English-speaking employees ask (to find out if they should turn the call down).

Soren O
1 2
We are a Danish firm, sometimes receiving calls from abroad. Some of the calls are from sales people. The conversation ... "What is the purpose of your call, please?" I am asking about the last sentence is it too rude?

Absolutely not. It is they who impose upon you,
not the other way around.

Michael West
Melbourne, Australia
"What is the purpose of your call, please?"

Regarding what matter, Sir (M'me) ?
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Absolutely not. It is they who impose upon you, not the other way around.

Yes, I know have the right to ask. The reason for posting this was that I would like to know how the proposed sentence sounds in English ears. Mind you, it just might be a big wheel calling to make business.

Soren O
Regarding what matter, Sir (M'me) ?

What about "Regarding what matter, please?" thus avoiding "mattermadam".

Soren O
What about "Regarding what matter, please?" thus avoiding "mattermadam".

In terms of politeness (which it seems you are after) a personal address to the caller might be beneficial.. So I'd think Sir/M'me is appropriate. Maybe when you replace it with "please" its just a tiny shade less polite but still very much acceptable..
.. .unless you make is sound like "PP LL EE AA SS EE" like in "Oh PLEASE.. why the heck are you calling?" Emotion: wink Emotion: wink Emotion: wink
AH
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We are a Danish firm, sometimes receiving calls from abroad. Some of the calls are from sales people. The conversation ... is it too rude? how do (business-)English-speaking employees ask (to find out if they should turn the call down).

I think the phrasing is too blunt. The phrase that I frequently hear - and approve of - is "May I tell him what the call is in reference to?".
There are some that will argue that any phrase is rude and that you should just be put through. I disagree. It is part of the phone answerer's job to screen the calls. The Managing Director (or any employee of the firm) is not obligated to take every nuisance call or, for that matter, every legitimate call. They employ a person to answer the phone partly to fend off calls they don't want to accept.

It may be impolite to brush off callers, but the MD has more things to do than to spend time on the telephone listening to sales pitches about telephone service schemes, opportunities to advertise in obscure publications, requests for charitable donations, and invitations to join organizations that benefit only the organization.

In my experience, the caller that knows how to get through will state the purpose of his call and not wait to be asked. It would be effective for your caller to say "Hello, my name is John Doe. I'd like to speak to your Managing Director about distributing your products in the Kansas City area of the US." This allows the phone operator to put the call through if the MD handles that, or route the call to some other executive that makes this type of decision.

It seems that the less legitimate (by that I mean the less desirable the offer) the call, the more the caller disguises the intent of the call.
I think the phrasing is too blunt. The phrase that I frequently hear - and approve of - is "May I tell him what the call is in reference to?".

Thanks and I quite agree with your points ...

Soren O
"What is the purpose of your call, please?"

Come to think of it, you can also inquire about what firm the person is calling from. If it is "Top-dollar Investments" I will ask them to send a mail.

Soren O
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