Your first conversation with a prospect is one of the most important parts of the entire selling process. If you nail this conversation, you’re likely to set up a meeting, which can turn into a closed deal. Unfortunately, most salespeople have no idea how to start a successful conversation with a prospect. Instead, they just launch right into a pitch.
Instead of ruining your chances with a salesy monolog about your product or service, it’s time to be strategic about the way you talk to new prospects.
Some conversation starters simply work better than others, and you should start using these proven talking points right away, every time you engage with a prospect. Set yourself apart from the competition, crush your sales goals and convert more prospects into customers by adding these three powerful conversation starters to your repertoire:
1. 'Here’s what’s going on in your market now…'
This conversation starter establishes you as an expert in the prospect’s market and immediately builds trust between you. If you can show that you understand the trends in your prospect’s industry, you’ll open the door to a whole new level of connection between you. When a prospect thinks you’re going to provide them with valuable information, they’ll listen closely to what you have to say -- and that’s half the battle of any sales conversation.
When you start a sentence with, “Here’s what’s going on in your market right now…” you are showing the prospect your value right out the gate. Continue on to share your key observations about the prospect’s industry today, and you’ll have your prospect’s full attention for the rest of the talk.
2. 'Three challenges I see in your industry are...'
This next one is about sharing three common challenges that you see in the prospect’s marketplace. Pretty simple, right? Surprisingly few salespeople do this, and it’s an incredibly powerful conversation starter. Make sure that whatever challenges you bring up are ones that you know how to solve for your prospect.
Be sure to pick three challenges that are likely to be relevant to most, if not all, of your prospects, so you don’t alienate a potential customer at this early stage of the conversation. To make sure you start this conversation in an effective way, write down a few challenges and have them on hand when you make your next sales phone call.
3. 'What’s the toughest challenge you’re facing?'
This question is so simple, yet so powerful. It encourages your prospect to lay it all on the table: What’s the prospect’s biggest frustration right now? Moreover, it implies a follow up: How can you help them solve it? Don’t be afraid to just ask this question! You’ll be glad you did.
This straightforward conversation starter accomplishes many things at once. Your prospect will see you as an expert who knows what’s going on; you’ll engage the prospect further in a valuable conversation, and you’ll be ready to take that conversation closer to a closed deal by focusing on the key challenges they’re facing.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.