What’s wrong with beginning a cold call with questions like these?

  • “If you felt our program could help improve efficiency, reduce overhead and improve quality, would you want to know more?”
  • “If you could change one aspect about your current arrangement, what would it be?”

On the surface, they seem okay. The first promises a benefit. The second one focuses on needs.

Problem is, they’re not really rooted in what the buyer does. They’re based on what the seller does. They tell the prospect, “This call is about me and what I sell.”

Prospects are interested in their own situation. When we start by finding out what they do, we’re more likely to find common ground.

Better opening lines
Here’s an approach that can help you discover your customer’s agenda instead of promoting your own.

Start with simple customer-focused questions that help both of you gauge whether you have a reason to talk. For example: “Barbara, we offer distribution services for midsized companies. We might be able to save you some money.” Or “I wonder if you could you tell me a little bit about how your company is currently handling distribution.”

Follow-up questions stay focused on the customer’s experience: “And how has it been working with big-box retailers? A lot of our clients say they’re pretty demanding.”

This approach encourages the prospect, in a very nonthreatening way, to share a relevant story that can lead to a sales opportunity.

Source: Stephan Schiffman, president of D.E.I. Management Group, Inc.

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