It is said that first impressions are made within seven seconds – whether that’s over the phone or in person. Seven seconds is also roughly the time it takes to deliver your opening line to a prospect, and yet, how many times have you opened a call with a bland “how are you?” or something equally generic?
Those few words could be drastically hindering your sales performance, and lowering the chance of taking the relationship with your lead to the next level (i.e. appointment setting). Not only is knowing how to open a fruitful conversation important, it’s also hard, which is why we’ve reviewed three opening lines to avoid during sales calls.
1) How are you?’
You can get away with a ‘how are you?’ during phone calls to your mates or your nan, but kicking off a sales call with it isn’t a good idea. Put yourself in your lead’s shoes: an unknown number flashes on their phone, which immediately puts them in defensive (or suspicious) mode. Chatting to them as if you’re already on familiar terms or as if you’ve called them for a chinwag will make you appear insincere and probably shorten their patience even more. Instead, keep your tone professional and personalise your greeting by saying something like “Hello Smith, how are things at GCL today?” Depending on who you’re calling, it might be more appropriate to use a formal address, i.e. Mr Jones. Your sales performance rests on your ability to pique your prospect's’ interest, so make sure you start the conversation differently to every other person they receive calls from.
2) ‘Can I have a few minutes of your time?’
Even though you might think you’re being polite by opening with this line, it’s a bit of a redundant question because if you have to ask, chances are they don’t want to give you any of their time. The question might also instil a sense of foreboding in your prospect – a few minutes usually means a lot longer. What’s more, by asking them such a question you give them the opportunity to answer with a definitive ‘no’, and there goes your chance of improving your sales performance. Remember, everything you say to a lead (and especially during the first few seconds) needs to help rather than hinder the conversation and potential relationship. ‘Can I have a few minutes of your time’ does neither. Another line you can use instead is ‘I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me’ – after all, if they’ve answered the phone, they’ve already done just that.
3) ‘I was wondering if you would be interested in…’
Again, another generic and vague opening line that sounds as if it’s come straight off a sales script. It also implies that you have no idea whether your prospect is interested in your offering – i.e. you haven’t done a lot of research about them or their business. One effective way to ensure that your sales performance improves this year is to start your conversation with a line that suggests you know exactly what your leads needs and interests are. Something like ‘I know that your business has recently expanded into Spain, and I thought I could offer a bit of advice about how to connect with your target audience.’ Personalisation is integral to all forms of marketing (from inbound to accounts based marketing), but needs to be applied to all marketing communication too. Your leads are far too busy and inundated with calls and emails to take notice of a bland pitch.
Whichever opening line you choose for your next sales call, don’t forget to get inside the head of your lead. The first things they’ll be asking themselves are: who is this, why are they calling, why should I listen, when and how am I going to extract value, how long will the call be and can I trust the caller. Answer these questions for them, before they have to ask, through what you tell them in your opening lines.
Appointment setting is an important part of boosting sales performance, as face-to-face meetings are where most deals are closed. If you’d like further information about perfecting your sales pitch, download our guide:
Image credit: thenlpcompany.com