While waiting for friends one evening, a cute guy walked up to me and asked me if I “had a light” for his cigarette. I replied that I don’t smoke, and he said, “But you sure do have fire!”
I laughed and asked him if that pick-up line had worked with other women. The guy felt embarrassed and started to leave, then turned around and said, “It got you to laugh and talk to me.” Good point, Romeo!
[Related: How to become a magnetic insurance advisor]
Of course, this exchange got me thinking about selling. What do pick-up lines and sales opening lines have in common? Confidence, intuition, wit and a solid sense of timing. Remember that you only have about eight seconds of someone’s attention span to work with, according to a recent article in Time. In those eight seconds, the language you use matters. You need words that will hook that prospect, pique their curiosity and transform a short interaction into a longer conversation.
Here, we have compiled a list of great sales opening lines to help you land your next client. Take a look, then tell us: Do any of these lines work for you? Do you have other opening lines that you return to over and over again? Let us know in the comments below.
1. Use the unexpected pleasantry.
If you’re cold-calling a prospect, do you immediately introduce yourself and your company? According to an article in Entrepreneur, that’s a big don’t because you’re preemptively telling your prospect to hang up immediately.
Instead, be pleasant and thank the prospect on the other end of the line for their time, like so:
“It’s an honor to finally speak with you!”
“Thanks for picking up the phone!”
“Thanks for taking my call.”
“Your time is important. Let me cut to the chase.”
Language like this will not only be perceived as positive and enthusiastic, it will make your prospect feel appreciated. (Besides, going right in to who you are and who you work for isn’t interesting.) After the pleasantry, follow up with a benefit-driven hook that is likely to be of interest to this specific prospect. Then, finally, identify yourself, what you do, your business, etc.
See also: Follow-up call finesse
2. Name drop.
Using the name of one of your known clients creates credibility and can help catch your prospect’s attention, according to Actimizer, a company that specializes in call leads. All the better if you can accompany the name with a success story. Here are some examples of how to lead with this method:
“Other companies like [name] use our services for achieving/improving their …”
“We have helped [name] increase their revenue/become more cost-efficient by …”
“Industry leaders within [industry] use our product for …“
Remember to always get approval from previous clients or companies to use their names during your sales calls, and make sure that your usage is compliant.
See also: Closing the sale: an app for the iPad
3. Be honest.
Honesty ranks high on the list of attributes today’s consumers demand from a saleseperson, and it helps establish trust with your prospect from the get-go, notes EngageSelling.com. Here’s how to show your honesty from the very start:
“[Prospect's name], we haven’t met, and to be honest I don’t know if what I have to say will be of benefit to you. But if you have 3–5 minutes right now, can I suggest that we discuss why you might be interested in speaking with me?”
See also: This is the ultimate closing technique
4. Have an online meeting, anytime, anywhere.
Leading with a quick online presentation is respectful of your prospect’s time and, importantly, meets your prospect where they’re at. Kim Magdalein, a producer and owner of Magdalein & Associates, uses a very simple technology to reach clients. With Join.me, an online meeting portal, you can present your practice to prospects in just 15 minutes by sharing your computer screen.
“Hi, John, this is Kim Magdalein. Our mutual friend, Bill, said that you might be able to use my service. Do you have just a few minutes now or would another time be better? Fifteen minutes will get you everything you need to determine whether I can be of benefit. Great, can you get to your computer for just a few minutes?’”
Before you call, make sure you have a sample illustration ready with the products that will better serve this prospect, Magdalein suggests. Or have a slideshow ready that explains your practice and the benefits the prospect will receive from doing business with you.
5. Focus on one person at a time.
“I don’t know how you feel about having a ‘crystal ball’ to accurately time the financial markets better than any analyst on CNBC, but it’s been my secret to nearly 20 years of consistent trading profits.”
This opening line is also known as the “I don’t know how you feel about” line. According to TheRyanMcGrath’s blog, it works because it is honest and empathetic. It also communicates that you care about your prospect and that you’re not telling them how they should feel about your services or products. Moreover, you’re painting a vivid picture of the payoff they will receive, thus fulfilling their “what’s in it for me?” (WIIFM) question before they ask it.
6. Use real-life comparisons
Making real-life comparisons that resonate with your prospect’s lifestyle can help them start visualizing a budget that is feasible. Try this:
“How much money can you save weekly? Can you save the cost of that daily cup of coffee, which could come to about $10 per week, or roughly $40 per month?”
See also: Sell like you’re on the highlight reel
7. Use the “your time is valuable” line.
“I know you’ve scheduled an hour for this meeting, but I’ll only take 20 minutes.”
This pitch line will not only make your prospect smile, it will also make you more likable in their eyes, according to Forbes. The article cites four reasons why this line is magical:
- It shows respect for your prospects’ time.
- It demonstrates confidence.
- It forces you to be more creative.
- It reduces cognitive overload (when there’s too much information in one conversation).
See also: Where have all the prospects gone?
8. Never leave home without your nifty financial calculator.
“What average returns have you been getting for the last 10 years?”
“How much has your current advisor helped you earn each year for the last 10 years?”
“Would you like to explore how you may be able to increase your earnings by 5% per year? Five percent doubles the total value of your account in just 15 years. Does that interest you?” (Take out the nifty calculator.)
Kim Magdalein suggests that you show your prospect what you can do to help them get better returns by using a financial calculator like the iPhone app HP 12c lite. Showing your prospect tangible numbers that have a benefit for them will help close that sale every time.