How to Start a Sales Conversation with a Prospect

BY Jessica Helinski
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Do you know how to talk to prospects? You might even be asking yourself how to start a sales conversation over the phone. If you have never given it much thought, it’s definitely time to come up with a standard practice of how to start a sales conversation. Your first exchange with a prospect must be both memorable and engaging, so it’s important to make those words count. “Most salespeople wing the initial components of a sales conversation, but prospects will decide in the first seven seconds whether they want to continue a conversation with you,” writes sales blogger Marc Wayshak. 

Wayshak wants sales reps to be more conscious of their first sales conversations with new prospects. So, he shares seven best practices for those initial conversations.

How to Start a Sales Conversation with a Prospect

Start off the sales conversation by showing your expertise in your industry. You want to wow the prospect right away and make him or her want to hear more about what you have to offer. You can accomplish this by beginning the conversation with some valuable insight that relates to the prospect. Mention what’s going on in their industry or provide some other relevant bit of information that instantly sparks their interest. That's how to start a sales conversation with a prospect! This approach will also make you more credible.

How to Talk to Prospects About Common Marketplace Challenges

Next, you need to point out common challenges the prospect may be facing. Now that you know how to start a sales conversation with a prospect and have their attention, bring up common marketplace challenges. Make sure that the challenges are relevant to the prospect’s business and are problems that your company can solve. In thinking about how to start a sales conversation, you might remember that businesses in the industry are struggling to comply with a new standard. Fortunately, your company has a solution to the problem. “Come up with some issues, jot them down, then begin incorporating them into those early conversations. By sharing a few of the challenges that I’m seeing in the marketplace and then engaging the prospect, I immediately pull the prospect into the conversation while at the same time showing that I know what I’m talking about, and showing that I am focused on providing value,” Wayshak explains.

Ask Questions During Your Sales Conversation

Then, engage the prospect with a question. Asking questions will keep the conversation with your prospect going. The question can be as simple as asking, “Are you noticing this, too?” after you point out current industry issues. You will not only learn more about the prospect, you will keep them talking. Listen carefully because the more information you collect, the better you'll understand their wants and needs. And then you can formulate a game plan for how you can weave the miracle solution your product or service can provide into the sales conversation.

Wayshak shares a couple of other tips on how to start a sales conversation with a prospect that can be found in his article. This advice also works if you need to know how to start a sales conversation over the phone. By simply incorporating his suggestions into your outreach to prospective clients, you can immediately grab the prospect’s interest, establish yourself as a knowledgeable expert in your mutual industry of interest and learn about the specifics of his or her business and its needs. So, before you approach that next prospect in your sales funnel, make sure your first words work for you!