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How to Shape The First 10 Seconds of a Sales Call

By: Teresa Weirich

March 22, 2018

You’ve heard all the sayings: “you have one shot to make a first impression”, “the first 10 seconds of an interview can get you the job (or not)”, “and it only takes 10 seconds to become famous.”

While all of those sayings may be true, the first 10 seconds of a sales call can literally make or break your company’s future and perhaps more immediately, it’s revenue. A company’s sales professionals and SDR team members send hundreds of emails and leave multiple voicemails all leading up to that one big moment: the one time the decision maker actually answers and gives that team member just a few seconds of their time. During that short little window, the sales professionals needs to cut through the noise, share something valuable—something that will keep them on the phone just a little longer, and, hopefully, something that will get them to say “yes” to a next step.

But those first 10 seconds of a phone call can be downright paralyzing. Sales leaders may not realize that many of their team members freeze in those first few imperative seconds: they second guess their scripts, they forget to ask the important questions, they treat the individual as if they’re a different persona, or they face an objection they haven’t had before. A single call can go a hundred different ways which, in and of itself, can either be exhilarating or terrifying (or more than likely a combination of both) for the sales professional handling the call. In this article, we’ll share a few ways that your sales team—whether seasoned enterprise sales professionals or SDRs just starting out—can benefit from having great conversations every single time.

Consider The Audience And Tailor The Message Accordingly

It can be tempting to use the same script with the same message over and over, regardless of the prospect’s title, their company’s industry, or a variety of other factors. But just because a sales script has been proven successful for one particular persona or use case doesn’t mean that it should be used on a rinse and repeat basis without modification—especially if the product or solution at hand is complex or enterprise-focused. Even before a sales professional or SDR picks up the phone, they should know who they’ll be speaking with, what their title is, and have at least a good idea of what the company does and what industry it’s in so that the message can be tailored with a:

  • Customer case study or example (we’ll get to that later)
  • Unique value prop that resonates with that individual
  • Mention of the industry or role and its challenge(s)

Keep The Talk Track Brief And Simple

The more content that a sales professional tries to cover on a first call with a prospect, the less will be remembered. Even if a particular solution can solve 20 different problems, it does no good to address all of those situations in a first touch point. It’s a good idea to choose 1 or 2 key use cases or outcomes and hone in on those without mention of other benefits. It can be tempting to try and keep a prospect on a first call for as long as possible, but short and sweet is the recipe for success—providing just enough information to pique the interest of the prospect. The goal, after all, is simple: get them to agree to a discovery call as a next step so the sales professional can learn more about the company’s challenges and goals and tailor the demo or conversation accordingly.

In addition to keeping the content short and sweet (a handful of sentences at most), it’s key to engage the prospect and ask them a question or two to get them clicking with the pain points or challenges that the solution will solve. The more a prospect can commiserate with others that have the same challenges, the more likely they are to agree to a next step.

Share a Similar Customer Example

Nothing gets a prospect engaged faster than hearing an idol company mentioned as a successful customer of the product or solution at hand—especially if they’re in the same industry. The best sales professionals can uncover a pain point, gain validation input from the prospect, and then share a case study or customer example that relates directly to the conversation. Essentially, it’s like engaging with a really enticing story:

  • Capture the reader’s attention (or in this case, the prospect)
  • Uncover the plot teaser and the antagonist (the situation and problem at hand)
  • Give a glimpse of hope (a customer example)
  • Keep them engaged (ask for a follow-up meeting)

When a prospective customer feels is if they’re part of the story, it makes it easier for them to envision a product or solution working for them. The key is to tell them story in a fluid way that comes off as genuine rather than seeming like the sales professional is reading from a script or fumbling through notes to try to identify just the right customer example.

Use Guided-Selling to Keep The Conversation On Track—No Matter What

The overwhelming feeling that often plagues sales professionals when they first get a prospect on a call stems from having too many notes or documents or messaging cues to refer back to. When they’re on a live call with a prospect, it’s simply unrealistic for them to fumble through their various notes or documents and asking them to memorize messaging word for word isn’t feasible when it changes every few weeks—and can come off as disingenuous and fake.

What if there was a better way? What if a solution existed that could guide your sales team down the right conversation path in real-time, making sure that they tailor the message to the right persona, share the right case studies, and handle objections in the most appropriate way?

Many sales leaders have turned to a guided-selling solution that acts as a co-pilot for their teams. These solutions help sales professionals take the intimidation out of picking up the phone and let them excel at what they do best: building relationships and using their highly valuable sales skills to become the prospect’s trusted advisor throughout the entire sales process—beginning with that all-important first call.


  • Teresa Weirich's Headshot
    Teresa Weirich

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