First Step Is Always The Hardest – Richard M

First Step Is Always The Hardest – Richard Marcus

  • 30 Sep 2016
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Richard MarcusIf your particular selling situation requires you to make telephone calls to generate new business, will you be ready when the prospect picks up the phone or returns your call?

On a deep level you probably already know the importance of an effective opening statement in the sales process. I’ve seen lots of information that states you’ve got just eight to ten short seconds to grab your prospect’s attention and land a very significant sales appointment.

When prospecting for new business or any new business development activity the sales professional should first realize that Selling is a process of communication. To be effective and persuasive, your communications has to move prospects to take action. The following principles apply to all forms of sales communications.

First Things First – You’ve Got to “Open” Before You Can Close

So let’s say you are doing a follow-up call on a previous written communication, or it’s your first contact / approach with this target account.

Your purpose is to gain a commitment for an appointment or create the next step forward with this prospect. This communication step is critical so in the first eight to ten seconds do this; (1) Sound conversational, but professional, (2) Repeat their name and say something like, “It’s an honor to finally speak with you!” or “Thanks for picking up the phone!” or “Thanks for taking my call “ ! or “Your time is important and I promise to be brief!” You can add your own spin, but whatever you say, don’t and I repeat don’t identify your company, service or product that you want to talk about later. Stay with me here because you only have eight to ten seconds so it’s too early to reveal this information. If you identify anything about your company, product or service at this stage you decrease your chances of moving forward and gaining the appointment.

Every Customer Is Unique

State your USP… immediately after you make one of the above statements, you’re going to catch the prospects’ attention by using your hook – this is a tangible result or benefit (that you can deliver) that’s tied directly to something likely to be of interest to this prospect. You’ve got to be creative, keep it short and it must be relevant to the prospect. You want to quickly draw the prospect into a conversation by getting them to ask how, why or say tell me more.

Here are two examples; Mr. Burton we have decreased the employee accident rate by 14.5% at three Fortune 500 manufacturing plants this year. Ms. Johnson we have helped four Pharmaceutical Companies increase their production speed by 17% this quarter without adding staff.

The Payoff

Once you’ve shared your USP / Hook, the other person knows the reason for your call. Now is the perfect time to identify yourself and company. If you choose to identify the name of your business, give it a brief commercial. Say it in one sentence. Here’s mine; “This is Richard, Richard Marcus, with Vue Coaching And Sales Training We Help Our Clients Reach Their Full Sales Potential.”

The Close

Close your opening statement with a closing question: Mr. Burton is this an important issue to your company this (month/quarter/year)? Or Ms. Johnson would your company like to achieve similar results by the end of this (quarter / year)?

Practice this and change the text to fit your needs while sticking closely to the format.

Can you imagine how you’re going to feel as you get more appointments using this technique?


Richard Marcus is a Certified Sales Coach & Sales Trainer with 30 years of Fortune 500 Corporate Experience. He founded Vue Coaching & Sales Training to support Sales Professionals, Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs to reach their full sales potential, make more sales, earn more money and have fun in the process. Richard can be reached at richard.marcus@boardroomadvisorygroup.com.

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