Sales Call Basics: 3 Tips to Nail Your Opening

A professional singer takes the stage. The audience awaits with anticipation. Do you think she decides at that moment what song to belt out?

No way!

A comedian walks to the mic in front of a sea of eager listeners. Does he, in that instant, open his mouth and hope something funny comes out?

Of course not! That would be ridiculous, right?

Professional performers choreograph each nanosecond of their performances with special attention given to their openings because they know that a strong opening is a key to a successful performance.

Make no mistake about it, sales is a performance art, and your opening falls into the sales call basics category.

And just as other professional performers give an overwhelming amount of time and attention to choreographing and practicing their openings, so should we.

I would argue that sales rank as one of the most difficult types of performance art because the performance comes first, and then the audience decides whether to pay you or not.

So here are three tips to help you get paid…

Perfect Your Pre-Shot Routine

The term “pre-shot” is a sports term. For example, professional golfers focus their minds and energy before swinging the club and taking their big shot.

I’ve talked about this with hundreds of sales professionals, and I’ve found that the most successful salespeople use a “pre-shot” routine before engaging with their customers. For some, their pre-shot routine is a form of self-talk: “It’s go time!” “Showtime!” “Let’s go change someone’s world!”

For others, it is physical activity such as standing up and getting in a couple of good stretches, putting on a smile, or clapping their hands.

Whatever you choose to do, the purpose is to clear your mind and prepare to move forward with focused energy for selling success.

Monitor and Practice Your Non-Verbal Communication

One of my favorite Jeff Shore lines is “Are you happy? Then remember to tell your face!”

Buyers often feel completely overwhelmed by the buying process and start looking for mental shortcuts in order to relieve some mental stress. Your customers need to conserve as much mental energy as possible, so they tend to make quick judgments about salespeople (whether they like and/or trust them) based on a salesperson’s non-verbal communication.

Why? It’s just easier that way!

Knowing this, it is critical to monitor and practice your facial posture, your energy level in the sales conversation, your voice volume, tone, and inflection, as well as your appearance. All these factors will impact a buyer on a subconscious level as they take in your presence and decide if they like you or not.

Pre-plan and Practice Your Opening Lines

The best moment to open your mouth and “wow” a buyer with a power line is the first moment. A strategic opening line gets a buyer talking and makes them feel comfortable right from the very beginning.

I believe the best opening lines are three things: rehearsed, rehearsed, and rehearsed.

Are we all clear on how I feel about winging it? I’m not suggesting that you have only one preplanned and rehearsed opening line or question. In fact, I think you should build several opening lines into your arsenal to keep it fresh and avoid other buyers hearing you repeat your opening line again and again to other customers (if you are in that type of selling situation).

Creating several go-to opening lines will also allow you the flexibility to read the moment and deliver the most appropriate opener for each situation.

The main message here is to think about your strategy vs. your habits. Do you deliver your opening line out of habit, or is it based on strategy? Once you have that determined, practice your opening lines until you can’t get them wrong.

Get your opening right, and you just might change someone’s world!

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About the Author: Amy O'Connor

As one of the most in-demand sales training consultants in North America today, Amy O’Connor brings a decade’s worth of industry experience and knowledge, along with a fresh female perspective on leadership, to her impactful and enlightening seminars.