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Opening Statements

Opening Statements: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

For the past 26 years I’ve worked on the phones as a qualifier, broker, sales associate, sales manager, director of sales, V.P. of sales, owner of various companies, inside sales consultant – you get the idea.

I’ve worked with, monitored and heard thousands of sales reps over the years, and I’ve heard it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Here, for your reading enjoyment and education, are my all time, Top 5 classic opening statements:

First, the ugly:

    1. When I was an investment broker in the 80’s, I worked with a woman, Barbara, who was one of the top brokers in our five office broker dealer network. It was always hard to get through to prospects at their offices, but she had a way of almost always getting through. While I do not recommend it, it sure worked for her back then:Gatekeeper: “ABC company, can I help you?”

      B: “Yes, I need to talk to Jim, please.”

      G: “Can I tell him who’s calling?”

      B: “Yes, tell him Barbara is holding.”

      G: “Will he know what this call is about?”

      B: “He sure will. Tell him it’s about what he left at my apartment last night – he’ll know. I’ll hold while you put me through.”

      Oh, the good old days… ? Ugly for sure, but effective back then!

Next, the bad:

    1. There are so many BAD ways of opening a call it’s hard to choose, but here are two that people still use (believe it or not) that they need to stop using now!Prospect: “Hi this is Bob, can I help you?” Rep, (either): “Oh hi, this is Brad Johnson with the XYZ company, have you ever heard of us?” Or,

      “Oh hi, this is Brad Johnson with the XYZ company, do you have a few minutes for me now?”

      Obviously, you’re starting the call off with a ‘no’ response (“No, I’ve never heard of you.”) or you’re giving your prospect an immediate opportunity to get rid of you – (“No, I don’t have time, good bye!”).

      Seriously, if you’re using either of those, stop it today…

    2. The other bad way to open a call is to try to trick the gatekeeper to put you through. Again, believe it or not, many sales reps still do this:G: “Can I tell him who’s calling?”

      Rep: “Yeah, tell him it’s Brad.”

      G: “Does he know you?”

      Rep: “Yep, we’ve spoken before.” Or,

      G: “Can I tell him what this call is about?”

      Rep: “Yeah. He asked me to keep in touch with him.” Or, “I’m calling him back.”

      Both of these responses are blatant lies, but it’s amazing how reps justify them with, “Well he gets a lot of calls; he won’t remember,” or “Well, I make a lot of calls, and I did call him 2 months ago.” (Of course they never reached him, but that doesn’t stop them!)

      If you’re using any of the above trick methods, please stop it immediately. There is a better way…

Now the good

  1. I was consulting with a company a few years ago when I received a cold call that was so honest, so refreshing, that I recruited the guy on the spot. Here’s how it went:Me: “Hi this is Mike, how can I help you?”

    Rep: “Hi Mike, this is Carlos Avalar with the XYZ company. Mike we have never spoken before and I don’t mean to barge into your day, but I represent a company and a product that I think could be very beneficial to you.

    It has to do with your lead tracking system, and all my clients are happy they took a moment to listen. Can I run a few details by you now to see it there’s a fit?”

    Wow. Now that was different – honest, respectful, and it contained a value statement for me. I listened…

  2. The best way to get through a gatekeeper is to use this statement:G: “XYZ company, can I help you?”

    Me: “Yes please, please tell Bob that Mike Brooks with Mr. Inside is holding please.”

    Use please three times – it will change your career, believe it. And once you get through:

    “Hi Bob, this is Mike Brooks with Mr. Inside Sales, how’s your (Tuesday or day of the week) going so far?” [Listen carefully here to how and what your prospect says!]

    “Bob, I know you’re busy so I’ll be brief….I see you visited my Inside Sales Training website, and I wanted to find out what kind of help you were looking for in regards to your inside sales team?”

    Now, obviously, I’m calling back a warm lead. Here’s how you handle a cold one:

    “Bob, I know you’re busy so I’ll make this brief. I got your name from (name your lead source – paper, association, list, etc.) and I see you manage an inside sales team. Now we’ve not spoken before but I’ve sat in your chair for many years and I understand many of the challenges you’re probably facing right now.

    “Let me ask you – if I could give you some free resources that would help your team sell more and avoid rejection, would you be interested in downloading them today?”

Now, those people who blow me off are not buyers, and those who listen and respond are potential clients. It’s as simple as that.

Compare your own openings with those in this article (and adapt yours to fit the last two). Where do you or your sales team stand in regards to the good, the bad and the ugly?

About the author

Do you have an underperforming inside sales team? Talk to Mike to see how he can help you and your team reach your revenue goals. To learn more about Mike, visit his website: