When you think about prospecting calls, what comes to mind?
Sweaty palms as you reluctantly make the dial…getting hung up on…fielding snarky comments from annoyed prospects on the other end of the line?
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone.
Prospecting calls are the bane of most salespeople’s existence.
But they don’t have to be. It’s in your best interest to learn how to love prospecting calls.
After all, according to a study by HubSpot, it takes an average of 18 prospecting calls to actually connect with a buyer.
If you can follow the perfect 5-step sales prospecting call opening, you’ll engage your prospects right off the bat.
Pretty soon, prospecting calls might just be the highlight of your day.
I created this article and video specifically for salespeople who are struggling to make successful prospecting calls that don’t drive them crazy.
In this video, I’ll teach you the simple 5-step process that virtually guarantees a successful prospecting call, every time:
Prospecting Calls Video Summary:
Why You Need a New Opening for Your Prospecting Calls
When the vast majority of salespeople make prospecting calls, they totally wing their opening lines.
I know this because I’ve worked with thousands of salespeople over the years, and only a very small percentage have a clear strategy for effective prospecting phone call openings.
This is one of the biggest mistakes in sales.
Why? Because the data shows that it takes your prospects just 7 seconds to decide if they want to stay on the phone with you—or hang up on you right away—on prospecting calls.
After those 7 seconds pass, they’ll continue to ask themselves if they want to get off the call.
This doesn’t stop until they’re fully engaged.
Now, this means that you need an approach to starting a conversation that will both separate you from the hordes of other salespeople out there, and engage your prospects immediately.
So whether you’re making a cold call, responding to a lead, or following up on a referral, you need a step-by-step approach to the openings of all your sales prospecting calls. It needs to be completely scripted out so you never ramble or fumble around.
Here, I’m going to give you the simple 5-step opening for prospecting calls that will work every time.
Prospecting Calls Tip 1: Use a distinct tone to start your prospecting calls.
“Be distinct” might sound like a vague suggestion, but it’s actually an incredibly powerful tactic when it comes to the tone of your prospecting calls.
In particular, you need to use a distinct tone to start your initial conversations with prospects.
Here’s what I mean: Nearly all salespeople start their prospecting calls in the exact same way, with an overly cheerful, intensely enthusiastic tone.
This is the last thing you ever want to do.
For this step, I’m not focusing on the words you say (more on that in the next section), but rather on how you say them.
Remember that most salespeople start off their calls with a fake-sounding enthusiasm. This is the kiss of death because it screams “salesperson” and makes them seem pushy.
Instead, I want you to start your calls off with a very low-key, mellow approach. It doesn’t have to be polished, just real-sounding and genuine.
This is going to dramatically set you apart from all of your competitors out there.
Whatever you do, don’t resort to opening your prospecting calls with a run-of-the-mill, salesy tone. This will only hurt you—never help you.
Prospecting Calls Tip 2: Get quick permission.
Now, let’s get into the actual words that will make up your new prospecting call opening.
I’m going to tell you exactly what to say, because I know how many times a day you’re picking up the phone to make calls.
According to research by The Bridge Group, the average sales rep makes 52 calls every single day. And most of them are saying the exact same thing.
As you’ve no doubt noticed by now, the single most common opening for prospecting calls is this: “Hey, how are you today?!”
It’s time to flip the script completely.
Instead, try opening your prospecting calls with something like this: “Hi George. Marc Wayshak calling. Did I catch you in the middle of something there?”
Notice that I didn’t say, “Hey, is this a great time?” but instead I said, “Did I catch you in the middle of something?” The prospect isn’t going to expect this, and will be forced to think about what to say next.
This is a really important piece.
I call this “getting quick permission” because you’re quickly asking the prospect for permission to continue speaking.
Again, this is key, because it puts the prospect on the spot to answer a question they’ve likely never heard before from a salesperson on the phone—immediately catching their attention.
Prospecting Calls Tip 3: Give a brief explanation.
After you’ve received permission to continue, it’s time to briefly introduce yourself, in just one short sentence.
It’s important that you only use one sentence here.
This is actually the point where most salespeople give a whole paragraph, just jabbering on in different directions, but you’re going to just give one very brief sentence about yourself.
My approach here might be, “My company is a sales strategy firm that helps mid-size organizations dramatically increase sales.”
Nothing magical; it’s short and sweet, but it gives enough context so they’re not confused and they at least know a little bit about me.
Take a few minutes to write out what your one sentence will be, and use it from now on in all your prospecting calls.
Prospecting Calls Tip 4: Name common challenges you see.
Now it’s time to really suck your prospects in and show them that you know what’s going on in their world.
Remember, this isn’t about you. It’s about them.
This step creates a real sense of expertise in the eyes of your prospects. As a result, your prospects will want to stay on the phone to hear more.
My approach might sound something like this: “Right now, I’m seeing a lot of companies in your space that are struggling to attract top-tier prospects into their pipeline. They’re worried about changes in the selling environment. Finally, they’re just frustrated with a lack of sales results.”
Now, again, those are the challenges that I might use for my prospects. The challenges that you list should be, of course, specific to you and your industry.
Notice how I chose three specific challenges that my prospects will relate to?
It’s up to you to do the same.
Think about those three common challenges that most of your prospects will relate to. Now write them out and keep them in front of you, so you can reference them while you’re making prospecting calls.
Prospecting Calls Tip 5: Engage, engage, engage.
Now that you’ve listed off the three challenges that you see consistently in your marketplace, it’s time to tie it all together and get your prospects talking.
This is where you might say something like, “Do any of these issues sound familiar to you?”
This one simple question, asked in a non-confrontational way, is going to engage the prospect.
If you do this right, you’ll really start to get your prospects talking—and once they’re talking, they’re no longer thinking about getting off the phone.
The call is now off to the races.
Without this final fifth step, your prospecting call won’t end up going anywhere. I can’t stress enough how important it is to truly engage with your prospect in a conversation that interests them on a personal level.
So there you have it. Now you know the perfect 5-step sales prospecting call opening to crush your prospecting calls.
If you’re one of the many salespeople out there who hates prospecting calls with a passion, these 5 steps will be an absolute life-saver for you. As we’ve learned, making your tone distinct from the get-go will automatically set you apart from the competition.
Next, if you simply ask for quick permission from your prospect, you’ll catch their attention and get the conversation started in a unique way that sparks interest.
Once you’ve gotten that permission, it’s time to give your one-sentence explanation that will draw prospects in further, starting to truly engage them.
One of the biggest keys to this process is the next step, which is listing off three common challenges the prospect might be facing. This sets you up as the expert in your field, building your connection to the prospect and earning their trust as a trusted advisor.
And finally, you’ll finish up this stellar opening by asking the prospect, “Do any of these issues ring true to you?”
This question will engage the prospect on a personal level, getting the call off to an amazing start.
Now, I want to hear from you. Which of these 5 steps to the perfect prospecting call opening do you find most useful? Be sure to share below in the comments section and join the conversation.