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What to say after "Hello"? Sales skills for an inbound world.

Sarah McIntyre About The Author

Thu, Oct 10, 2013

What to say after helloThis is a guest post by Rick Roberge. Rick is a trusted advisor and coach to sales rock stars and small business owners around the world, a columnist at Sold Magazine and the primary author of Sales Rock Stars and RainMakers Selling in the 21st Century and TheRainMakerMaker blogs.

Some salespeople have the ability to instantly develop rapport. They talk about the weather, sports, the neighborhood, mutual friends, golf. They seem to have the innate ability to know what the other person wants to talk about or they're just plain lucky! The rest of us fake a confident, "Hello." and hope that the prospect replies with, "Are you calling to take my order?"

Let me offer a few suggestions for when that doesn't happen. I have three general rules.

  1. Ask questions conversationally.
  2. Use what you know.
  3. Make it about them.


What do you know? You have a mutual friend. How do they know the friend? What did the friend say that suggested we should talk? How did you get talking about that?

People that fill out website forms

What do you know? They found your website. How did they find your website? What did they type in the search box? Why is that important?

If you're asking questions on your form, ask about the questions, but don't ask, "Can I answer any questions about _______?) Rather, if your form asks, "What's your biggest problem with _________, A, B or C?" If they pick A, ask, "I see that you indicated that A was your biggest problem. Can I assume that everything is perfect with B & C?" You can also ask, "Is that a new development or has it always been that way?" "Do you know why?"

I mean, seriously, don't you want to know the answers to these questions?

Curious Social Media Followers

I have people follow me on Twitter and look at my LinkedIn profile every day. Here's what I know. Although these people may not have been referred to me or filled out a form on my website, they did notice me and I'm curious to know why. I also know that there's a pretty good possibility that they're too shy to call me directly. So, I want to open the door for them. I Tweet them "@theirname Hi, I noticed the follow. How did you find me?" If they favorite one of my tweets, I tweet, "@theirname Thanks for the favorite, what are you famous for?" Always ask a question. Always make it about them. When someone looks at my LinkedIn profile, I send them an InMail, "I noticed that you looked at my profile on LinkedIn. What brought you by?" Many people reply to these questions that they were referred, or they noticed a comment or a post that I wrote. It's the beginning of a conversation. Ask why it caught their interest or if they agreed. BTW, if people don't reply to my first reach out, I sometimes (based on how busy I am) forward my original message and add, "No reply?" or "Did I do something?"

I hope this helps. My experience is that some people dislike talking with salespeople, but crave human contact. If you like this article, you may also like My Best Sales Questions or How to Close Inbound Leads.

If you'd like to learn more about using LinkedIn for lead generation, our eBook LinkedIn the Inbound way provides some practical tips for sales people who may be unsure where to begin.

If you're free on October 15th, I'll be speaking at this webinar on how to convert inbound leads.

Unbound growth webinar