Not long ago I got a call from some far-away area code, and the person didn't ask to speak with me by name. Instead, she gave a name (but no company or organization) and immediately after said, "How are you today?"
So, first I didn't know who it was that was calling. (A name doesn't cut it in my book.). Second, I was immediately angered that my time in suspense was yet extended more by being asked a meaningless, baloney, question. If I weren't having a good day or weren't well I wasn't about to tell that to a stranger. Whoever or whatever rule-book it is that instructs people like cold callers to try to add a folsky touch to things really need to figure some things out about the people they call.
Asking, "How are you today?" is for friends, and for when you actually care how the person is. I have a friend who has had some medical problems, and so has one of her family members (someone that I also know). Just within the last week I called my friend to ask a favor, and when I did I used "the dreaded" words, "How are you today?" I meant it. I didn't want to go ahead and either start chatting-in-general or else ask the favor and then have this person tell me someone was in the hospital, or that someone was otherwise dealing with being sick.
On the one hand, I know that people have medical issues and non-medical-issue-related bad days and still live their lives as usual. On the other hand, I didn't want to start in with a chit-chatty little conversation if my call had already interrupted less "frivolous" matters.
In fairness to the stranger from far-away who called, didn't say who she was representing, and then asked how I was doing, maybe that question is designed/calculated as a way of kind of doing the same job I'd hoped it would do when I asked it of a friend. The difference is a) that I know my friend has other things to worry about than chit-chatting or doing some favor on some days. And, I know that because I'm not a stranger. More importantly, when I've asked that question of one person or another in my person life it's not just to get an unspoken "all-clear" to go on with the call. It's because I really do want to know that things are well (or well enough) for the person (and any family members about whom she may be worried). There have been times different people I know have been sick or hospitalized, and I haven't known about it until weeks or even months later. It's not that everyone owes everyone else every last bit of health issues s/he runs into, but I don't think I'm the only one who doesn't want to start chit-chatting or talking about some minor thing if someone else is, say, worried about some crisis that's "in the air" for that person.
I'm sorry... As far as I'm concerned, this question is reserved for people who know the person they're calling and actually do really care (and beyond just whether or not there's that unspoken "all-clear" to go on with the chit-chatty stuff or minor issues).
To me, sales people or anyone else who calls me should first tell me who they're representing, then add a name if they must, and get to the point of the call. If the thing is that they don't see who they represent because they fear being hung up on; well, get another job. You're going to be hung up on.
I don't want my time wasted with meaningless chit-chat from strangers (and that goes as well for strangers like phone-company customer service people).
If you want me not to rule out your company/organization and/or want me to like your company (to some extent) don't waste my time with meaningless foolishness. End of story.