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Rethink How You Open
By Linda Richardson, CEO, Richardson

Although it takes a small amount of time, you create the foundation of the entire call with your opening.

Most salespeople take how they open a sales call for granted - many hardly think about it at all.

The opening is a place to differentiate yourself and get your calls (especially first calls) off to a great start. This requires taking the time to plan how you will open. Although it takes a small amount of time, you create the foundation of the entire call with your opening.

By giving in the opening, you will get a lot more in

the remainder of the call!

Five important things need to get done when you open. Salespeople who master them create a competitive advantage.
  • Don't forget about rapport. Prepare for rapport. In addition to what you prepare, look for rapport cues. Be sensitive to customer signals, but don't bypass rapport. People buy from people they like when all else is fairly equal (and sometimes when it is not).
  • Rethink your purpose. Instead of saying, "I am here to tell you about us and what we do in ..." say, "I am here to learn more about your objectives and share with you what we do in ..." (for a first meeting) or "Before I discuss what I have prepared, I'd like to learn about ..."
  • You probably are well prepared, so leverage your preparation. Say, "In preparation for the meeting, I have ... (example: discussed X with our specialists, researched ...)" This will help you gain credibility and more time.
  • With a prospect, credentialize by giving a 30 to 60-second overview of what your company/group does and check if there are any questions. Tailor it to your prospect.
  • Lead out of the opening by going into to needs vs. your presentation! When you are ready to wrap up the opening, do so with a question that sets the expectation you will be asking questions. This will also help you gain client cooperation. Remember, you have already let the client know you prepared for the meeting, so this will help the client want to give you information. For example, "So that I can focus on what the priorities are for you, may I ask a few questions about ... before I share with you what I have prepared?" Then you are in the Need Dialogue where you can question, listen, and drill down so you can be persuasive when you present.
These opening steps may seem like small points. In fact, many, if not most, salespeople miss several of them.

When you open the call effectively, you open the dialogue. By giving in the opening, you will get a lot more in the remainder of the call!


Linda Richardson, founder and CEO, of Richardson a global sales training company, author of nine best selling sales books, and faculty member at the Wharton School, is the driving force behind the Richardson sales curriculum. visit www.richardson.com or call 215.940.9255.

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