In my recent post, 21 Things I Would Like to Fix About Sales, I stated that sales people should not open sales calls with, “Hi, how are you today?”
That prompted one person to ask what they can say instead. Here are my thoughts…
First, it depends on the type of sales environment you work in. Let’s take a look at a few different scenarios.
I get my share of cold calls and when the first words I hear when I pick up the telephone are, “How are you today?” my knee-jerk thought is, “This is a sales call.” That often causes me to shut down mentally and immediately look for ways to end the call.
I’m not suggesting that cold calling is dead or that it is ineffective, but opening a call with those words is one of the fastest ways to lose your prospect’s attention.
A more effective approach is to start by identifying a potential problem your prospect might be facing—you determine this through your expertise or the research you did before you called.
For example, let’s say your company sells employee incentive programs. Your pre-call research helped you learn that a prospect’s company is in the process of merging with another company. You could open your call like this,
“Mr. Smith, most companies experience a significant decline in employee productivity during a merger and an increase in sick days. I understand that you are currently merging with XYZ Conglomerate and wondered what you’re experiencing.”
This demonstrates that you have done some research and have an understanding of a potential problem that the prospect may be facing.
Not only is it more effective than “Hi, how are you?” it captures their attention and helps you stand out from every other sales person calling that person.
When meeting a prospect in a B2B setting a “Hi, how are you?” greeting appears natural but it does little, if anything, to add to the conversation.
It’s okay if your prospect opens the conversation with this question but I suggest that you take a slightly different approach if you’re the one initiating the dialogue and simply say, “Hi, great to meet you.”
Combined with a strong handshake, confident smile and good eye contact, this is a powerful way to open a sales conversation.
Then, instead of engaging in small talk, demonstrate that you respect their time by saying, “I know you’re busy so I want to confirm that you still have 30 minutes set aside for our meeting.”
My sales career started in retail many years ago and the most common greeting front-line sales associates use next to “Can I help you?” is “How are you, today?”
Unfortunately, this does little to separate you from your competitors and stand out from the crowd. Plus, when we use this type of greeting, the automatic response we typically get in return is “just looking.”
If you want people to respond differently, you need to change your greeting and use something a bit different. One of the most effective approaches is to say,
“Welcome to (insert store name), what brings you in today?”
In today’s highly competitive business world, we need to look for every opportunity to stand out from the competition and eliminating, “Hi, how are you?” from our vocabulary and initial sales approach is one step in this direction.
I deliver engaging, impactful workshops and keynote presentations that help sales people close more deals. Please feel free to contact me if I can help you or your company: 905-633-7750 Kelley@Fearless-Selling.ca