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A secret sales tip: Practice your opening statement and lead in question

Thursday, 13 June 2013 | By Taskmaster

Over the long weekend, Old Taskmaster trundled through a few local stores tasked with finding a birthday gift. Truth be told, it was a good excuse to do a little shopping.


Co-incidentally, one of the few advantages of real life stores over their online counterparts is for situations when you don’t know exactly what it is you want to buy. On the other hand, if you already know what you’re after, the likes of Google and eBay are brilliant at tracking down the best price.


The thing that struck Old Taskmaster as somewhat peculiar was that at almost every single store, the greeting was the same.


That is, assuming the staff weren’t sitting behind – or worse on top of – the counter talking to friends while drinking an extra-large sour cherry Slurpee, utterly oblivious to the potential paying customers walking in and then out of their store. But that’s a tale for another day.


High-end retailers were visited during this little shopping expedition.


So were little $2 stores filled with unlicensed merchandise, highly toxic toys and miscellaneous flammable garbage imported from China. The kind of store that springs up like a weed from a cracked footpath when a former tenant ‘forgets’ to pay the rent for a few months. In every case, the story was always the same.


“Hi, how can I help you?” the shop assistants say.


The thing about sales is that first impressions matter. Whether you’re interacting with a potential customer for the first time in store or in their office for a first sales meeting, starting off with a good opening statement and lead-in question (OSLIQ) is essential.


Your opening statement should be a single sentence introduction to your business and greeting. Like an elevator pitch, basically, but even more pithy.


Your lead-in question should be a yes or no question to gain the customer’s approval to continue the sales conversation. If your potential customer says yes to your lead-in question, it’s time to progress to your discovery questions. More information about that stage of the sales conversation here.


How big a difference can a good OSLIQ make to your business? Consider how you would react to these two hypothetical stores.


The shopkeeper in store one says, “Hi, how can I help you?”


The shopkeeper in store two starts with an opening statement, saying “Welcome to Crystal Palace antiques, I’m Ruby the horologist”. This is followed up with the lead-in question, “If you like, I can guide you through some of our collection?”


Store one is lazy. It’s generic. It probably has an owner who wonders why s/he no longer sells $300 vases when the exact same vase can be had for a tenth the price on the internet. Dagnabbit, must be because that darn GST is too low!


Store two begins presenting its premium value proposition from the very first sentence. A guided tour of antique timepieces by a horology expert who has the time of day for customers? Like the old grandfather clock in the shop window, this gets a big tick as a premium experience!


Well, Old Taskmaster says this: It’s time to work on your OSLIQ! If you don’t have one, create one! If you do have one, refine it! Then practice it and put it into action!


Get it done – today!