Opening sales statements: start right – finish first – An STC Classic


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Opening sales statements – a popular topic of conversation especially with new sales people. We often have new sales reps asking, “How should I open?” “What should I say?” “How can I grab the buyer’s attention?” “Can you give me a few good phrases that always work?”

Much has been written about opening statements … create immediate interest for further discussion and make it compelling are two of the most frequent heard recommendations. Those points are certainly good ones and are worth getting right.

But there is a little more to the story.  Two important points are very often missing when talking about opening statements – Limits and Clarity.  To gain some insights about these considerations we can turn to the art of “writing” for two lessons on crafting opening statements.

Limits. In writing, openings are exercises in limits.  You can’t make the reader love the story in the first paragraph, but you can lose the reader.  You can’t tell the reader everything all at once – and sales reps can’t include everything in an opening statement, either. Surely every syllable counts in an opening sales statement so sales reps must decide what to say initially and what to withhold until later.  Some folks spend too much time opening – disregarding that the customer’s time is valuable.

Clarity. A good written opening paragraph possesses clarity; it does a good job being clear about a single important point.  Some writers overload an opening passage to excite the reader. Actually, nothing is more confusing then too much, too quick – and that’s what happens when overloading a written passage.

When it comes to selling, the best way to achieve clarity in the opening statement is rehearse it.   After honing your opening statement, rehearse it out loud – verbal practice almost always leads to a clearer and more effective opening statements.

One overarching rule to remember is – one size does not fit all.  Opening statements must be targeted to each individual and to each call.  It does the new sales rep no favors simply to provide them a list of  “great” opening statements – something to memorize and keep at the ready.  Opening statements require pre-call planning just like the rest of the call.

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Janet Spirer
For more than 30 years Janet Spirer has worked with the Fortune 1000 to craft sales training programs that make a difference. Working with market leaders Janet has learned that today's great sales force significantly differs from yesterday. So, Sales Momentum offers firms effective sales training programs affordably priced. Janet is the co-author of Parlez-Vous Business, to help sales people have smart business conversations with customers and the Sales Training Connection.


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