Creative Openings

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Starting off on the right foot is absolutely essential in sales meetings. Simple things go a long way toward making a good first impression: looking and acting professional, treating clients with courtesy and respect, and coming up with a creative way to introduce yourself and your company.

Being memorable (for the right reasons) will ensure that your name comes up time and again when possible solutions are being researched.

A Basic Opening for Warm Calls

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The first impression people form of you is based on both verbal and nonverbal factors. The nonverbal factors may actually be more important when selling in person. These include such things as:

  • Your general appearance: how you dress, personal grooming etc.
  • Your facial expression and bearing.
  • Your posture.
  • Your tone of voice 
  • Your nonverbal communications: eye contact, nodding, etc.

None of this means that you should pay any less attention to the verbal factors. Pay attention to the language that you use, and ensure that it is appropriate for the circumstances. 

As a rule of thumb it is advisable to be as polite and formal as you can be on the first meeting. As a business relationship is established you may find that a natural rapport emerges, but taking an informal approach into a first meeting can make a bad impression and end the potential relationship there and then.

When on the phone, too, pay attention to your “verbal nods”. These are short responses like “Yes”, “Of Course”, “I understand exactly what you mean” and so on. At certain points it is beneficial to use these rather than pitching, as they will show the customer that you are interested in finding out where they are coming from.

Warming up Cold Calls 

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An opening statement should include:

  • A greeting and an introduction
  • A statement about the prospect
  • A statement about the benefits of your product
  • A question or a statement that will lead (you hope) to a dialogue

Here is an example:

“Hello, this is John Jones at Solar Solutions. I saw in the paper that you’re planning a new office building in Smallville. Our company has a product that can cut your heating and cooling bills in half. Have you considered adding solar panels to your building?”

From this opening you have introduced yourself and what you do, as well as showing that you know something about them. By finishing with a question you invite a response which can then lead to further discussion. 

The example above is a basic one which can be tweaked to suit personal style and situations, but serves as a demonstration of a strong, complete opening.

Using the Referral Opening

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When using a referral, tell the client what their friend found most appealing or beneficial about your product. If you do some research, you can focus on features that the client should also find appealing. 

Be prepared to respond if the client says something like, “Well, Charlie’s business is a little different from mine. He has different needs.” If you have done some research, you can respond by saying, “I understand that, but this is what our product can do for you.” 

This allows you to show that your product is versatile but, more importantly, it also shows that you have considered their business needs and how you can meet them. You are not just trying to badger them into a sale; rather you are showing understanding about their business.

By preparing in this way, you demonstrate your business’s strength and credibility and give the person to whom you are speaking reason to consider you as a potential business partner. 

You also encourage them to think of you as someone that is worth speaking to on a business level and give yourself more time to build a coherent pitch. You may even find that no pitch is necessary, but it is nevertheless useful to have it in your reach and be able to deploy it.

Case Study

Susan stood at the podium with eyes wide open frozen in time. Susan had a speech to give and couldn’t open her mind to the possibilities. She felt like a deer in headlights and had no words. Sarah decided to give Susan a push in the right direction. They grabbed words from a dictionary and Sarah reached into her tool box full of opening lines and had Susan try a few on for size. Susan found one that could grow on her and she practiced saying it, but the cat had her tongue and Susan could feel herself as she sank fast into the land of no hope. Sarah reached further into her box of tricks and found just the right ingredient for Susan to mix in her speech and soon Susan discover she had could cook up a winning recipe for success.