Sometimes the hardest part of a sales call is just getting it started.
Making it through that initial pushback at the beginning of a call can be the most challenging phase of the sales conversation.
One of my sales mentors always used to say, “If you start strong, you end strong.” This is so true when it comes to sales calls. The first 20 seconds of any sales call are some of the most important moments of the entire sales conversation.
In this video, I’m going to show you how to start a sales call in five easy steps. Check it out:
1. Open with distinction.
Take a moment to put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. They’re sitting at their desk, their phone rings, and they automatically answer. Maybe they did it without really thinking—perhaps they thought it was their spouse calling. Instead, they hear this on the other end of the line: “Hey! Marc Wayshak here. How are you doing today?!” The prospect immediately feels a sense of dread; they know it’s a salesperson using a super-duper salesy approach and they immediately start planning how to get off the phone.
To avoid this reaction, we must learn how to start a sales call in a completely opposite way from what the prospect expects. That means dropping common openings like, “Hey, how are you today?!” and ditching the super-excited, enthusiastic sales voice. Instead, focus on being low-key. Use an approach to open the conversation that will break the usual pattern your prospect has come to dread hearing over the phone.
If you open with distinction, setting yourself apart from other salespeople right off the bat, it will catch your prospect off guard and break the pattern. In other words, at first, you really want your prospect to be unsure whether you’re a salesperson or not. Keep them on their toes for those first couple of seconds of the conversation.
2. Show that you know their world.
When learning how to start a sales call, demonstrating your knowledge is the second step in the process. One of the best ways to separate yourself from the hoards of other salespeople is to demonstrate that you’ve done your homework. Show that you know what’s going on in their world. The more you can demonstrate that you understand their world early on in the call, the more likely they are to allow you to continue with the conversation.
Most salespeople follow some lame approach that’s focused on their own company. They immediately start talking about how great their company is or how amazing their offering is. Instead, start the conversation by focusing on the prospect. Show that you know their world and what’s going on for them. They’re more likely to say, “Okay, this person knows what they’re talking about, I’ll give them a few seconds.” That’s all you need.
3. Bring insight.
Once you’ve already demonstrated that you know what’s going on in your prospect’s world, it’s time to bring some insight into the conversation. When it comes to mastering how to start a sales call, insight is the single most powerful tool that any salesperson has at their disposal.
Think about it this way: in your role as a salesperson, you’ve likely talked to hundreds, if not thousands, of people who were in very similar circumstances to your prospect right now. Use that insight; don’t let it go to waste. The more insight you can bring from this high-level overview, the more likely you are to demonstrate that you have real value to bring.
Big-time companies like McKinsey Consulting, Boston Consulting Group, and Bain Consulting all charge hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to essentially bring insight to their customers. If you can bring insight early on to the conversation, you can be seen as tremendously valuable to any person who is an ideal fit for what you sell.
4. Share common issues.
Because it’s so important to the process of how to start a sales call, let’s dive deeper into what it really means to bring insight to your sales calls. So much of this step relies on your ability to demonstrate that you understand the common issues faced by people just like your prospect. Common issues are the key to getting any prospect to start to open up.
Through the process of sharing insight early on in the call, you must be sure to share some of the common issues or challenges you’re seeing similar people face from your bird’s-eye view. Then, you obviously want to engage the prospect in a conversation around those common issues.
When you’re learning how to start a sales call, it has nothing to do with your product or service. It has everything to do with the common issues you’re seeing—and engaging the prospect around those challenges. This is how you can start to bring real value to your sales conversation early on, get prospects to open up, and find more of them willing to have a real conversation with you.
5. Leverage a kickass CTA.
The next key to starting a sales call is to have a kickass call-to-action to get people on the phone with you. Most salespeople try to initiate a sales call with something weak like, “Hey, let’s set up a phone call.” Your prospect doesn’t want to just have a phone call. They’re not dying to talk to a salesperson; they just want real value. A kickass CTA must be something that is of tremendous value to your prospect; something that will get a complete stranger to be willing to engage you in a sales conversation.
What is something you can offer your prospects that will be truly useful to them in terms of solving the challenges they’re facing right now? Something that’s beyond simply, “Hey, will you hop on a call with me?”—because they don’t want to do that. But what they do want is some kind of value that will help them solve their top challenges. That’s what the kickass CTA is all about.
So there you have it. Now you know how to start a sales call in 5 easy steps. Which of these ideas did you find most useful for your own sales calls? Be sure to share below in the comment section to get involved in the conversation.
More Easy Steps to Start a Sales Call…
Do you want to know the best way to start a conversation in sales? First, know this…
Many buyers dread meeting with salespeople.
Why? Because salespeople are selfish—at least that’s what buyers seem to think.
In one survey, 44% of buyers report that the primary reason they don’t enjoy meeting with salespeople is because salespeople have their own agenda and the buyer feels pressured.
Another 25% say that it’s because salespeople only care about themselves and making a sale.
Combined, that’s a whopping 69% of buyers who are tired of meeting with salespeople who don’t care about the buyer’s needs.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Once you learn the best way to start a conversation in sales, you’ll stand out from other pushy salespeople as a trusted advisor your prospect actually wants to meet.
The key is to be prepared with conversation starters for virtually any situation.
In this video and article, I’m going to share the best way to start a conversation in sales—whether you’re looking for ways to start a sales call or need a plan for face-to-face meetings.
Check it out.
Pitching Isn’t the Best Way to Start a Conversation in Sales
Most salespeople start their conversations with prospects by pitching.
These salespeople describe the benefits of their products or services, then tout the amazing features of their companies.
This is totally wrong.
Instead of using the best way to start a conversation in sales, you’re totally focused on yourself and your own company.
But prospects don’t care about you! They only care about themselves.
That’s why a pitch will never keep your prospect engaged and excited.
Stop pitching, and start using an approach that will set you apart from the competition and get the prospect to perceive you as an expert.
Keep reading to learn a very simple three-step approach to the best way to start a conversation in sales.
6. Show that you know what’s going on in their marketplace.
Instead of pitching your product or service, the best way to start a conversation in sales is to create more value.
When prospects see that you know what’s going on in their sector or industry, you’re going to come off as THE expert.
The best way to start a conversation in sales is to share patterns you’ve observed from your bird’s eye view as a salesperson of other companies like theirs.
Once they see your expertise and your willingness to share valuable insights with them, they’re going to stop and say, “Maybe I should listen to this person.”
Now that you know to get your prospect’s attention by showing value, you’re ready to move on to the second step of the best way to start a conversation in sales.
7. List off three common challenges.
The next step to master the best way to start a conversation in sales is to list off three very common challenges that you see going on in the marketplace.
Of course, these should always be challenges that you help solve.
This may sound simple, but I’ve found that failure to do this correctly is one of the most common mistakes salespeople make.
I’d start with, “Right now, I’m seeing a lot of companies that are struggling with A, B, and C.”
By listing three challenges you’ve observed, it once again shows you know what’s going on in their world.
This is a key selling habit that establishes your expertise and
is the absolute best way to start a conversation in sales.
For example, I’ll often say something like, “A lot of companies right now that I see in the marketplace are losing sales to low-cost competitors. They’re frustrated with old-school sales techniques that simply aren’t working on savvy prospects, or they’re finding it more difficult than ever to set really good quality sales meetings.”
As you can see, I list off three simple challenges that are very likely to be relevant to my prospect.
This is a great conversation starter that will lead you to discover your prospect’s deepest frustration.
What are those challenges that your prospects are facing that you solve?
Think about those, write them out, then start using them as part of the best way to start a conversation in sales with your ideal customer.
When you stop pitching and start solving problems for your customer, you’ll build rapport and close more deals.
8. Engage them with a question.
The last step to the best way to start a conversation in sales is to engage the prospect with a question.
Simply tie everything off with a bow by asking something like, “Do any of those issues ring true to you?
As simple as it sounds, this really is one of the best tips to close more sales.
This is key to getting your prospects talking and encouraging them to engage with their challenges.
As long as you’re talking to a qualified prospect, they’ll likely respond, “Yeah, actually, we are dealing with one of those challenges.”
Now you can dig into that challenge, and the interaction is off to the races—which is what makes this approach the best way to start a conversation in sales.
Conclusion: Build Trust with Prospects Using the Best Way to Start a Conversation in Sales
These three steps to the best way to start a conversation in sales are simple, but they accomplish a lot of things all at once.
First, it’s going to get your prospect to see you as an expert and someone who really knows what’s going on in the marketplace.
Second, it’s going to help you really engage any prospect in an effective sales conversation.
Finally, it’s going to set you up to take that sales conversation down a very powerful path where you discuss how you can help solve problems for your customers.
This is the key to having a really, really effective sales conversation and ultimately winning more sales.
Remember to follow these three easy steps to use the best way to start a conversation in sales with any prospect.
Step one is to show you know what’s going on in the marketplace.
As a salesperson, you have a unique perspective of industry trends and common challenges.
This makes you insanely valuable to prospects.
Share your knowledge with prospects, and they’ll see you as someone who is looking out for their best interests instead of your own.
This is a great way to get prospects to pay attention.
Step two is to list off three common challenges.
This builds off of step one, because you’ll use your experience in sales to share your insight on challenges your customers have faced.
Remember to choose challenges that your product or offering is actually designed to solve.
If the prospect doesn’t face one of those challenges, they’re probably not a good fit. Disqualify them and move on to prospects worth pursuing.
The third and final step of the best way to start a conversation in sales is to engage the prospect with a question.
Something as simple as, “Did any of this ring true with your experience?” will set you up for an effective conversation where you ultimately seal a sales deal.
Now that you know three simple steps to the best way to start a conversation in sales, I want to hear from you.
How do you usually start a conversation in sales? What are the results? How will you change your approach based on these tips?
Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below to join the conversation.
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About the Author Marc Wayshak
Marc is is the best-selling author of three books on sales and leadership, including the highly acclaimed titles Game Plan Selling, The High-Velocity Sales Organization and his forthcoming book, Sales Conversations, Mastered.
Marc is a contributor to Inc, HubSpot, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Huffington Post Business. He also hosts a popular YouTube channel on sales strategy with over 103,000 subscribers.
Marc helps thousands of people his data-driven, science-based approach to selling that utilizes all the best tools available to sales organizations today.