For better or worse, research has indicated that we make decisions or judgments about a person in the first seven seconds of an initial encounter. Given this brief window of opportunity, it is imperative for salespeople not to leave anything to chance when they initiate sales conversations.
In addition to using/utilizing knowledge, charm, and confidence, salespeople need to plan how they will open a sales call in order to capture a customer’s interest.
A simple, highly effective model is opening a sales call using the 3 Rs: Rapport, Reason, and Response.
First, salespeople need to establish rapport as a way of building or maintaining a positive relationship. Rapport increases openness by putting the customer in a relaxed and open frame of mind. Base rapport-building on what is of interest to the customer and what interests you about the account or that customer.
Additionally, rapport building should encourage a response from the customer so that you immediately draw them into the conversation. Including a question, for example, is one sure way to get that involvement started. The sooner you get the customer talking, the sooner you begin to build trust.
Next, the reason for the call is exactly what it implies – your reason for speaking with the customer. It should grab the customer’s attention. This is where your research will pay off. The reason should include:
- How the decision-maker may benefit from participating in the call
- A proposed agenda – what you want to do or accomplish during the call
The reason for the call is critical to the opener because it lets the decision-maker know what to expect and what they have to gain by meeting with you.
Finally, don’t forget to ask for a response. “How does that sound?” We ask the customer to respond to our reason for being there so that we can gauge their level of interest. This is also the time for the customer to add to the agenda, modify it, or even express a lack of interest. So don’t forget to listen!
Should you get a positive response from the customer, you have earned the right to ask additional questions and identify their priorities.
Although there’s no such thing as a seven-second sales call, if you don’t establish Rapport, state your Reason for the call, and elicit a Response, your call may not last all that much longer.
About David Jacoby
As a Managing Director at Sales Readiness Group, David helps large B2B sales organizations improve sales performance. Previously, David was a Principal at Linear Partners, a sales consulting firm providing sales strategy, sales operations, talent management, and interim management services to emerging growth companies. In the past, David has served as Vice President of Business Affairs of Xylo, Inc., where he was responsible for the Company's business development, sales operations, legal affairs, and financing activities.