First Impressions… Are They More Important Than Closing The Call?

“Many sales people recognize that they need to get the prospective client’s attention in order to initiate the sale. In fact, the prevailing mindset today is how you open a sales call is more vital than how you close the call.” ~ Excerpt from article ‘5 Tips for Getting Your Prospect’s Attention’ by Larry Prevost

Wow – what a powerful statement.  It certainly gives credence to the phrase, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”!  And I definitely agree.

How many of us are turned off when we get an unsolicited phone call from the stereo-typical ‘used car salesperson’?  You know what I mean (and please no offense to anyone who sells used cars….. many of them are very honorable!).  Asking the wrong questions in the wrong tone of voice is not a great first impression.

I found value in Larry Prevost’s article (I copied the whole article below) and thought I’d give a few ideas and examples from my own experience.

1.  Use a compliment.  I’m not talking about the “wow, you look nice today” or “I love that tie”.  You are not trying to get a date – you’re trying to book business.  How about, “I read in today’s paper about the success that ABC Company had testing the new thing-a-ma-buzz.  Congratulations.  Will any of your corporate VIPs or vendors be coming in for the proposed launch?”  Now, being able to come up with this type of opening line reflects that you have done your homework.  Do you read the paper?  Do you read your city and/or surrounding cities economic development websites?  Do you have Google alerts on your top customers AND your competitor’s top customers?  If you don’t, you don’t have any fodder for an intelligent opening question!  This is the value statement for doing your research before you dial the phone or before you stop by their office.

2.  Ask a question.  Asking intelligent, relevant questions is the key.  No one wants the slick, ‘let’s make a deal’ type question.  They don’t want to be insulted when you ask, “do you want your people to be happy?” or “do you want to save money?”  These types of questions are sophomoric and insulting.  Do you really expect someone to answer – “no we don’t want our people happy” and “no we don’t want to save money”?  So ask an open ended question like, “I remember that your group used leased AV technology in their meeting last year, would your group benefit from our meeting room’s new SMART board?”, or “I noted that your company is very environmentally conscious.  Does your company require that their hotel partners be green?”  Show your contact that you’ve done the research.

3.  Use a referral.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to say, “I was at the Business After Hours meeting last week and while talking with Mary Smith from XYZ Company your name came up.  Mary has been a client of ours for several years and she indicated that you book the same type of meeting/guest rooms for your company.”  Ask your good customers if they can refer someone to you!

4.  Educate.  This is tougher than you think.  You don’t want to be perceived as high-fallootin’ or uppity – but you do want to be perceived as knowledgeable.  Use a fun fact rather than a ‘I know more than you’ type of statement.  If they are not from the area, draw from your knowledge of the company or it’s location.  “Our hotel is located about x minutes from your office via Highway A.  Given the fact that Highway 1 will be under construction for the next year, and your current hotel partner is located equal-distance to the office off Highway 1, would you consider using our hotel so that the traffic congestion does not impact their commute to the office for meetings?  We’d be happy to map out alternative routes.”

5.  A startling statement.  Oye – be careful here!  This is very treacherous ground so tread wisely.  Utilize a statistic of service or an example of human kindness.  “Last year our hotel front desk was consistently rated high by our brand because of their exemplary customer service.  We feel strongly that your travelers will appreciate the warmth and knowledge that our team has to offer.” OR “Our hotel is taking great strides to improve their carbon footprint.  This year we converted all our our hotel lighting to incandescent bulbs.”

Think about these prospecting calls and how you are perceived.  Write down a list of “smart” questions and post it by your phone!  Prepare an agenda or checklist for prospecting so that you cover all the bases in an intelligent and organized fashion!

Happy first impressioning!



5 Tips for Getting Your Prospects’ Attention
By Larry Prevost, Dale Carnegie Training Instructor

Many sales people recognize that they need to get the prospective client’s attention in order to initiate the sale. In fact, the prevailing mindset today is how you open a sales call is more vital than how you close the call.
So if you’re trying to get a call back from a voicemail, introduce yourself to a new contact on the phone or trying to get introduced into a new company, what is the best way to get the contact’s attention?
Here are 5 ways to get your prospect’s attention whether you are leaving a voicemail or establishing a relationship:
  1. Use a compliment .  People love to hear compliments, and they appreciate the fact that you noticed a certain fact about their accomplishments.  Give your prospect a sincere compliment and, in their minds, you will become extremely significant, not to mention extremely perceptive and intelligent.
  2. Ask a question .  Asking a question of your prospect immediately turns their attention to finding an answer.  Make the question relevant to a common challenge in their industry.  And please refrain from asking the standard question, “If there were a way to increase your revenue/income, would you be interested?”   This question is just too trite, and your prospect just may hang up the phone on you.
  3. Use a referral .  Using a referral is a transference of credibility.  If your prospect respects the person you are referencing, then you attain some of your client’s credibility and gain your prospect’s respect.  The key here is knowing how your prospect views the client who gave you the prospect’s name.  If you are with a client and asking for a referral, be sure to ask about the relationship, how they know the person they are referencing, and some of what you can expect when you visit the prospect.
  4. Educate .  Opening with a statement that provides information is establishing value.  You are showing that you have done your homework and that you are a valued resource in the industry.
  5. A startling statement .  This type of opening can be an analogy, a statistic or a little recognized fact that reaches out and grabs your prospect attention by changing their perspective.  Again, make sure that the statement has relevancy to the industry or the challenge that you are solving.

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