Selling anything over the phone is no easy feat. You never know when your prospect is in the middle of something important and you have about three seconds to state your business before the person either ends the call or allows you to continue.
If you get it right, you should have more of your phone leads listening intently, and it all comes down to just how well you break the ice.
A successful “ice breaker” can be a relevant comment, a comedic quip, or an observation that suddenly makes the person sit up and take notice. These aren’t cookie-cutter “pick-up lines” for sales or anything like that. As any veteran salesperson will tell you, no two prospects are alike, just as no two phone calls are ever the same. Therefore, these are more like ice-breaker concepts that you can personalize to your prospects to boost your phone game and sales conversion rates.
Before you can hope to break the ice, you should have a firm understanding of the person you’re speaking with, their position at the company, what you hope to accomplish with this phone call, and how you can help the prospect achieve their goals.
Even though you’re using these powerful ice breakers in your phone presentations, expect to be rejected. It comes with the territory, and you must realize it’s nothing personal. The person may be busy, not in the mood, not in the market, or already speaking to another sales rep about the same product or service.
The important thing is keep calling, keep getting rejected, and make these icebreakers your own by learning from your mistakes and honing your skills over time.
Remember, Never Call to Sell
One more reminder before we get to breaking the ice: 80% of deals are closed after the 5th follow up, so you shouldn’t expect to sell on the first call anyway.
People answering the phone can sense a salesperson quickly, which comes from years of dealing with telemarketers. You must set yourself apart. Instead of hitting the individual with a sales pitch right away, focus on building a relationship. Be mindful of the person’s mood and time-table. If they’re not interested in forming a business relationship now, leave the door open so that you can pursue a relationship later.
Always be professional, courteous, and genuine. Just as phone prospects can sense salesmanship, they can also sense fakery. To project the opposite, do your best to form a genuine sense of curiosity about the other person, attempt to be interested, and engage them in friendly conversation.
Ice Breaker Concepts for Sales Cold Calling
Point to Something Familiar
Effective salespeople know that part of being prepared is digging into social media, such as LinkedIn to learn more about your prospect, his or her company, and pain points you can help them solve.
Did the person recently get promoted? Bring that up first. People love praise and a little buttering the muffin may get you an “in” that you can use to close the deal.
Offer a Compliment
Flattery will get you everywhere, and people love to get kudos for something they inherently own.
This might be the sound of their voice, the authority in their tone, or the unique spelling of their name. However, you can also mention that you appreciate how quickly they answered the phone or that you’ve heard a lot about the person and their reputation (make sure you have facts to back it up).
If through all your digging you can’t find much on the individual, use something the person can immediately relate to.
This might be an upcoming holiday (be mindful of religious affiliations!), news in the prospect’s area, or anything else that will set you apart. Make sure to always use the person’s name when speaking. Remember, you’re trying to build a relationship, not sell a product or service. Speak friendly and accordingly.
Try to avoid cliché ice breakers like mentioning the weather (unless it’s severe or unusual) or sports. Stick to topics that are more in line with the person’s business and goals. For instance, when mentioning an upcoming holiday, you can ask if they’ll be working or taking time off.
People love to do business with people who are similar to them, so find something you and the prospect share,
You might live in or originate in the same state/area as the prospect, or went to the same school– or even pursue similar hobbies. Finding common ground can both put you on the same level, which is a great way to form a business relationship.
Tell a Story
Do you have a compelling case study that the prospect may find interesting? Why not start with that? If you can help the prospect relate to the hero of your story and if the two are aligned as far as their concerns, objectives, obstacles, and visions of success, then your prospect’s ears will certainly perk up.
As long as you call prepared, conduct your due diligence before you call, and develop a genuine interest in the person you’re speaking to, any ice breaker you use has a good chance to work.
These ice breaker concepts should help you get your proverbial foot in the door as you phone your next prospect. As you become more experienced, the best ice breakers will seem to come to you out of nowhere. You’ll become more in tuned with your prospects and you’ll know just what it takes to disarm and comfort them into listening to your pitch and close.
Until then, remember to listen to your prospects, observe their reactions, and then use these ice breakers to develop a relationship that you hope will last up to the close of the deal, and then far, far beyond.