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Favorite Openers

When making initial contact with a prospect do you have a favorite opener to 'gain the prospect's attention, holding interest, and secure approval to ask questions'? - by Houston
When I met people casually it sometimes becomes a prospecting moment that happens in an organic way notwithstanding my experience in listening and asking questions.

When I call a prospect what I say is a very concise statement about what I'm offering and if it's something the person wants or not. Sometimes there's a minute or so of conversation before that because of a unique situation.

My goal is not to gain the prospect's attention or do anything to hold it or secure approval to ask questions. The prospect will give me his/her attention and hold interest if my offer is what he/she wants. After that it's a matter of inquiry and seeing if there is a mutual reason for heading toward a finish - or beginning, if you will.

I also need to determine if the prospect is someone I can trust and not disqualify.

MitchM - by MitchM
You cannot know what their specific interest is. Therefore, opening with a specific benefit that a feature of your product or service might supply is a no-no, as it may be one of no or little interest to that prospect and lock you into; "I am not interested!"

This is hard or nearly impossible to recover from in an opening situation.

Professional prospectors use a general benefit statement (GBS) for this very reason. They need to have the chance to conduct a proper sales meeting to ask questions to uncover specific needs of interest to that prospect.

There is a completely different way to look at this; if you target a specific benefit that addresses one need, like weight loss, and the person is not interested, even though they may be slightly over weight, you may loose the opportunity to talk to them but what does the prospect loose? All this NEW AGE baloney misses out on this critical point ... if you blow it you would blow it for your prospect too!

Let's say, for sake of argument, that you are in the Health and Wellness industry (MLM) and what you could be showing them in terms of specific benefits from your products (not the opportunity) was one of the following;

Feature - Benefit

(A) Weight Loss - " ...you feel and look better!"
(B) Longevity - " ... believe it or not, you may actually live 15 years longer!
(C) Improved circulation - Diabetics; " ... you would not have to have your feet amputated!"

If you opened with the benefit for diabetics, and the prospect was not a diabetic, then you will have wasted their time. The same could be true for weight loss, if that person does not mind being 25 LBS overweight, then you may have wasted their opportunity - for instance to live longer!

Now, I used the Health and Wellness industry mostly for Mitch's benefit. Please understand, that I am not an expert in diabetes, life extension or the particular benefits of Mitch's products, just trying to put it in familiar terms without doing any research.

Applied to any B2B industry and the benefits to any business' these usually boil down to money or profit through various things like efficiency or reduced overhead. Many sales people think employee moral is a benefit, though it is actually an advantage that leads to increased profit, as happier people produce more (like through a profit sharing plan, for instance).

That is the trouble with this NEW AGE sales training. Some where along the line some sales people who became trainers got this notion that influence was bad, which is both a VALID and an INVALID statement (it can be used for both good and bad), so they recommend a selling system of avoiding influence. That is where you "just tell them what you got and they will be interested or not interested" ... concept comes from. However, in this insane desire to avoid selling, caused by a personal value system that tells them selling is bad, they forget that the prospect may be the big looser!

Incredibly, this same school goes on and on about the importance of telling the prospect everything in order not to get caught into inadvertently lying by omission, not realizing that once again the prospect's time was wasted!!!

How many times has a prospect been pissed off by a sales person because they had better things to do? So, they (NEW AGE SELLERS) start out by trying not to influence, to get away from the reputation of being sales people, and they end up pissing off the prospect anyway, furthering this notion that sales people are bad!!!

It would almost be laughable if it wasn't such a crying shame. Instead of inventing ridiculous notions about how to avoid being misleading, pushy, obnoxious, loud, slick, self centered or a seller who does not care, why not just learn to sell?

Great Opening lines include three things; an intro and a GBS plus a suggestion of an action plan, usually with choice (options). The action plan could be right then and there or an appointment but make no bones about it, unless you really understand selling, meaning you can engage a prospect, find out what they need without rambling on and can show them how the benefits of your product or service meet their needs, then you are wasting your prospect's opportunity to benefit.

YOU ARE DOING A DISSERVICE TO YOUR PROSPECT!

New age my a**, there is nothing new about learning how to treat people with class and dignity while you advise them during the decision making process so that they have every opportunity to buy what is right for them. Nothing at all. There is also nothing new about people who are involved in selling who either should not be in this industry, as they have not the talent for our performing art, or are too lazy to really master our profession.

If neither category existed, then there would not be a poor image of sales, New Age Trainers would not preach solutions to problems that do not exist (real pros do not need to be taught how not to influence, as they know how to sell) ... there would be no "people have changed and you better change to or else" type material even able to take root.

For the most part, the sales training industry is full of sales people who haven't the faintest idea what the real truth about our industry is!

Houston, no one can tell you what to say. It depends on the industry, the various benefits of your product or service and your own personality. I do not know if my answer helped, but there you are. - by Gold Calling
An outstanding post, GoldCalling! - by Skip Anderson
Appreciated comment Skip, people like you know that a mind is like a parachute, it works better when it is open.

It is odd how the NEW-AGE-rs clam up in the forum when what is evident is laid out in front of them and even more perplexing how a night of sleep can eradicate any thought that crossed their mind like a distant shooting star telling them to re-evaluate their values about sales and sales people and, in so doing, their perception of what selling is.

SALES MASTERS ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE VALUE THAT IS PART OF YOUR VALUE SYSTEM, WHICH IS THE PERCEPTION THAT THE WAY SELLING HAS BEEN DONE IS UNPROFESSIONAL. PEOPLE HAVE NOT CHANGED, IT WAS ALWAYS BAD TO SELL THAT WAY BUT THIS IS NOT WHAT THE GREATS TAUGHT!

We are responsible, with every fiber of our being, FOR SPREADING THE GOD FEARING WORD ABOUT HELPING PROSPECTS BUY (buying facilitation is Sharon Drew Morgan's phrase for this) and for teaching sales people to realize the reason for outside judgments having negatively influenced their value system ... !!!

Just because some writer says the way selling was done was unprofessional does not mean that every faction of the sales training industry was teaching or preaching that model, this is nothing more than a fallacy.

If anything sales training as an industry has gone backwards in the last 20 years. Actually sideways and backwards, that is how far off track most new age selling schools of thinking are! - by Gold Calling
@Gold Calling - That's what I was looking for. Grazie! - by Houston
Intro + G.B.S. + Action Plan = more success.

This is usually done over the phone Houston. Of course, you need to understand Socratic Choice, as that should be applied in the action plan. A simple example; "Would it be best to stop by your office to discuss that on Thursday afternoon or would Monday be better for you?"

The minor alternative is psychologically more effective in general, thus, for the times that it will matter, which you cannot predict, it should be practiced always. - by Gold Calling
Your thead, Houston, has caused me to get introspective and then jot down my openers and look at them from an objective view point.

What I've realized is that my openers vary from situation to situation especially when I'm prospecting a highly narrowed down niche or target market with a specific message or offer or question I want to ask.

I've also found working with the people I've recruited, that when we use a high degree of selectivity in knowing what/who we want to sell to and language our offer to that niche we very have a high degree of success potential.

MitchM - by MitchM
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