When you open the B2B sales call with insight about the potential buyer (prospect) you heighten engagement from the get-go. And the more engaged he is, the easier the sales call becomes. And you want that, don’t you? How you open and close the sale matters. Opening the sale means the first words you utter when you meet the customer. Much like a pick-up line in social circles, opening the sale is a conversation opener with the intention of engaging a prospect to sell to him. ‘Should this come before or after greeting’, I get asked by the analytical novice sale person. My response, “Play it by ear.”
How to open a sales call or conversation
How you open any sale matters. The two call opening examples are for B2C sales, both by hawkers. Their call opening skills were stellar. One, using the personal approach, got my attention from start when he pointed out that, “Boss! Hiyo wiper yako, ukizidi kutumia itakuharibia kioo.” (“Sir! Your wipers are faulty and if you continue using them, will spoil your windscreen.”).The other one, deploying the opinion approach, inflicted me with pain, when she sought our opinion asking, “Mtawapelekea nini?”(What will you take to them (your wives?)”) Today I want us to address how to open the B2B sales call with insight; customer insight, not yours. In any case, always make the sale about the customer, and the best sales openers or questions do so. Whatever opening you use, however, it must be true.
How to open the B2B sales call with insight
How to open the B2B sales pitch or presentation with insight is best done by centering on the prospects’ business 7Ps or the environment his business operates in. The 7Ps are of course product (or services), pricing (including budgets), place (distribution), promotion (marketing), people (staff), processes and physical evidence (tangible proof of intangible existence; for instance, the tangible cheque books is proof or the intangible bank account). The environment includes politics, economy, social aspects, technology, and the law.
Now then. What to choose to open with could be from research, what is trending, or what you’ve observed. For example, a few months ago, KFC was on the receiving end of Kenyans on Twitter. If you are selling to KFC, examples of conversation starters or opening the sale could be, “I really admired how you handled that incident without and visible adverse effects on the business. Tell me. What informed your strategy?” Notice, purpose is to get the buyer engaged from go. It’s not to sell. It’s to show customer insight. As if to say, ‘Hey, you’re not total strangers to me. I know something about you.’ How not to open that sale would be a lazy, “How have things been since the media incident about your sourcing of potatoes?” It lacks insight.
Examples of how to start a B2B sales call
A popular university here in Nairobi offers a course in Ethics for leaders in business. When selling the course they open the sales presentation to executives with this. “Somewhere in your business, corruption is happening as you are seated here.” Now that bold and gripping opening always gets the executives to sit up in rapt attention. The presenter then proceeds to give an example of the askari at the parking being bribed to give a parking slot to an undeserving visitor. Animated conversation typically follows. The audience is hooked. And that’s the point, the sales opener is intended to make it easy for the buyer to open up, and the sales person to take a back seat, start listening actively, and guide the client meeting to its intended quantifiable goal.
Why call opening is important
The sales call opening line is important because it sets the mood of the pitch or presentation. When the customer’s eyes light up with the unsaid realization that, ‘Wow! You know about us?’ It puts you in a winning position. He might even verbalize those words with admiration. Opening the B2B sales call with insight, is especially important because you are about to engage with the customer for a lengthy period of time because of the nature of the B2B sales cycle. How to open the sales call to the customer therefore may determine how that lengthy period will be like.
And you want it to foster camaraderie not stiffness. To foster, “I enjoy working with you” moments and not “I can’t wait for these sales people to leave.” And why? Because you started the sale with, “Tell me about how working from home has been for your business; how is the team adapting?” Yes, you are there to act like a doctor; to research and explore so as to establish buyers needs through asking insightful questions. But hey, even if it’s a clod call, it’s a conversation, not interrogation. So, set the mood right. Show some interest. Play ball. Otherwise, you run the risk of being another example of how not to open sales call and how to drive away buyers.
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