Tag Archives: opening statements

12 Tips For Handling “Runaway” Talkers (Part I)

Runaway talkers are customers  who will talk your ear off.  I don’t mean those who chat two or three minutes but those that go on and on and on.

The Cost of a Runaway Talker

Of course, the real dilemma is that runaway talkers ARE customers – sometimes VERY good customers- and we don’t want to terminate the call and risk their discontent and possibly lose their business.  Consequently most telephone based sales reps ‘suffer’ through it and accept it as a necessary part of business.

But long winded talkers come with a cost.  They cost you time, money and opportunity.  Every moment you spend in idle chatter is moment you could have spent on new business development,  other customer calls, projects, paperwork, the whole gamut.  Runaway talkers can cause frustration and anxiety when you get behind on tasks and activities.  They can cause resentment if you have to work overtime or you miss a deadline or fall short on your objectives.

So it is important that you know how to diplomatically manage a runaway talker and get back to work.  Here are six tips to get you started.

Tip #1: Plan Your Call Before You Call

All calls should be planned but with runaway talkers you need to take a few extra moments to plot the approach to your call.  Determine the objectives of the calls. Prepare questions to keep the call on track. Expect their conversational segues and review the tactics below so that you can turn to them if and when needed.

Tip #2:  Use an Opening Statement that Conveys Time Sensitivity

Use your opening statement to establish a focus and a time limit up front before the talker begins to ramble. He or she will still talk but at least you’ve created a pre-text for concluding the call when the time comes. Here some good opening templates:

                “Gina, it’s _________ from __________. Gina, just a very, very quick call to check on ________.

This opening uses ‘very’ twice and is delivered with a faster than normal pace.  The idea is to create a sense of urgency; like you’re juggling a half dozen tasks, and that THIS call is going to be very quick.  Your words and tone reveal that to your client. Here’ another:

“Hey Mark, _______ it’s _________ calling from  ________. Mark, I have 3 quick reasons for my call today before I have to rush off.”

This opener alerts the listener to your agenda (3 reasons).  Again, the word ‘quick’ is tossed in for good measure.  The idea is that you have some specific things to accomplish and you’ve laid out the plan.  Speed up the pace of your voice. Here’s one more:

“Ron,  it’s ________ calling from ________ I wanted to touch bases before I leave for my 9:30 meeting in about 7-8 minutes.”

In this case, your caller knows your precise availability. The meeting is your excuse to terminate the call if necessary and since they were warned about it, it is easier to interrupt without feeling rude.

Tip #3: Do NOT Volunteer any Extraneous Information

Be careful to avoid the rapport building questions that will take you down endless verbal trails.  The  trouble with most runaway talkers is that they are generally very nice people.  When you say, “How was your weekend?” they dive right in, open up and tell you EVERYTHING about their weekend from Friday at 5:00 till Sunday at 10:00.

Similarly, when you say, “Hey, how ‘bout those Flyers over the Penguins?” you’re asking for long winded trouble.  If you have time, go ahead and ask but if it’s a busy day, avoid mundane questions.

Tip #4:  Limit YOUR Responses

If you’re asked about ‘those Flyers’ give a one line reply to acknowledge the remark and then move to a question to refocus the call.  “Yes, it was quite a game.  By the way Ron, did you get that proposal I sent you about the next implementation phase?”   Don’t make a remark about Sydney Crosby’s on ice behavior unless you want to chat about hockey for the next 18 minutes.

Tips #5:  Minimize Your Use of Open Ended Questions

Open ended questions are generally very good for selling situations.  With runaway talkers it can be their ticket to chatsville.  This is not to say you should not use open ended questions but rather minimize their use.

Tip #6:  Maximize Your Use of Close Ended Questions

In Tip #4, the rep asked a runaway talker a close ended question: did you get the proposal? It narrows the focus and reduces the client’s chance to open up.  Very quickly, follow up with another close ended question such as, “Were the quantities correct?”  “Was the price in range?”, “Would you like to proceed?”  Questions like these may seem a  bit abrupt but that’s what is often necessary.

NOTE: Runaway talkers can still open up and ramble on even if you ask a close ended question but using close ended questions helps reduce the tendency and helps channel the direction of the call.

In the next article you’ll find six more tactics to politely ‘manage and direct’ talkative clients and get you back to work.

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The Absolute BEST B2B Tele-Prospecting Opening Statement… Ever!

Hands down, the best ‘go-to’ opener for cold calling is the  “Humble Opener.” Seriously! This is a VERY, VERY good opening statement template.

Highly effective, versatile, easy-to-learn AND easy-to-apply the humble is your ticket to better tele-prospecting results. Adapt this statement to your situation, practice it and deliver it well, and you’ll increase your presentation rate.   And that means more sales down the line. Period. End of story.

A bit of background: I stole this opening statement from a rep by the name of Rocky Mancini about 15 years ago. Initially, I wasn’t too fond of it. In fact, I thought it was a little wimpy and that it lacked a sense of ‘confidence.’   I was dead wrong. Prospects didn’t seem to react that way at all. In fact, their response was just the opposite. They were (and still are) extremely receptive to the tone and approach of the message.

Humble  Opening Examples

Below are three examples to illustrate the Humble approach. Take a look at each. Determine the common denominators. Kind in mind: how we READ versus how it SOUNDS are two different issues. You may want to read them aloud to appreciate their subtleties.

Example #1

“Anthony? This is Pat McCormick calling from XYZ Investments; we specialize in helping small business owners maximize their retirement portfolio.

Of course, Anthony, at this point in time I’m not certain if we can help minimize your tax exposure and maximize your investments but if I’ve caught you at a good time, I’d like to ask you a few questions, get a feel for your situation and see if it makes sense to chat further.

Let me ask you…”

Example #2

“Kerri, its Aaron Manusco calling from ABC Distributing.

Kerri, the reason for my call is to follow up on an e-mail I sent you yesterday introducing our new tele-account management program designed to streamline your ordering processing and reduce shipping costs.

I don’t if you’ve had a chance to review it in any detail but if I’ve caught you at a good time I’d like to ask you just a few quick questions to better understand your business and then, if it makes sense, explain the program and what it can do for you.

Let me ask…”

Example #3:

“Hi Pat, this Sandra Smythe from TS Consulting. I help companies use the telephone more effectively to sell and market their products.

Pat, I’m not sure if my services would be of benefit to your company but I’ve worked with other distributors helping them increase their contact rates and ultimately their sales.

If I’ve caught you at good time, I’d like to ask you a few quick questions to get a better feel for your situation and determine if it might be worth our while to chat further.

Let me ask….”

Analysis – 5 Reasons Why the Humble Works so Well!

First off, the Humble works because it is client focused not product focused. Notice it doesn’t pitch the product but rather seeks to determine if a need exists (“I’d like to ask you a few questions…) That in itself, puts the opener in a league of its own.

Secondly – and most importantly – the opener utilizes a powerful little ‘trigger’ phrase: “I don’t know…” or “I am not certain…” (Or variations on that theme). This is the very heart of the Humble Opener and it’s what makes it work. Delivered with honesty and conviction this phrase gets prospects to tune in and actually listen closely.

At first glance, it would seem this tentative remark would suggest that the telephone rep is uncertain about his/her product or service. However, the effect is quite the opposite. Prospects like it because it triggers the impression that the rep understands the prospect’s situation is unique and different. It implies there may not be an application for his product or service and if there is none, the rep will politely terminate the call. This ‘take away’ tactic makes the call that much more provocative and gets the prospect all the more curious.

One more thing: most telephone reps don’t approach the call in such a humble fashion and because of that the call is distinctive to the prospect. Most prospects are used to tele-reps spilling their guts or making grand promises of benefits. The Humble is different … so prospects tend to listen more closely rather than dismiss the call. They sense that this is not your run-of-the-mill “telemarketing” call.

Third, while the Humble does not ignore benefits, it presents them in a subtle manner. The opener dangles them but it doesn’t promise them. Benefits are used in the opener to communicate to the client what they might derive. The operative word is ‘might.’ It’s tantalizing, not bombastic. There is a genuine sense of candid honesty. Prospects are more apt to listen if only because they are curious as to why it might not work.

Fourth, another handy trigger phrase is “if I caught you at a good time.” The prospect senses the rep is polite and considerate about interrupting the moment. But if you look at it closely, the rep is not really asking if ‘now’ is a good time but rather is asking if he could ask a few questions. The way the phrase is worded is respectful and acknowledges the importance of time but it is really a request to ask some questions.

Finally, the rep doesn’t wait for a direct reply but rather asks the first question. It gets the client engaged and talking. This increases the chance of completing the call.


Sure, a prospect can still terminate the call and many will. But the Humble typically increases the ‘listen’ rate by about 35%-40%. That doesn’t mean sales will increase by that much but it does mean more prospects will listen more attentively rather that tuning out. And that’s where you get the competitive edge.

I am not certain how it will work for you but give it a try and let me know.

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Hidden Telephone Selling Gems – The 10 Best TelesalesMaster Articles of 2011

There’s over a hundred articles on this site. Pretty daunting, isn’t it? To make it easier for you, here are the 10 most popular articles on this site (and other sites!)

#1:  The ABCs of Tele-Sales – 26 Powerful Tips for Tele-Sales Success – In this article you’ll get even more links on variety of tele-sales skills and techniques.

#2:  7 Cold Call Opening Statements From Hell – If you don’t nail the cold call opener, you don’t have to worry about the rest of the call.  Here are 7 openers you want to avoid.

#3:  How to Leave a Killer Voice Mail Message (And Get Your Calls Returned) – Tired of a lack of response from your voice mail messages?  Try this one on for size.

#4:  How to Slay a Sales Slump in 15 Minutes or Less – We’ve all experienced a slump. This award winning article tells you how to manage it.

#5:  The 5 Voice Mail Messages From Hell -Are Your Guilty of One of These? – The reason why your voice mail messages aren’t being returned is probably because the messages are weak. Do you leave one of these messages?

#6:  8 Sales Questions You Can’t Live (and Sell) Without –  The key to telephone sales success is in the questions you ask.  Good questions mean good answers. Here are 8 good questions!

#7:  How Mr. Spock  Would Plan and Prepare for a Follow Up Call – This article not only provides you with practical tips but also a job aid that you can download and use to plan your next follow up call.

#8:  “I am not interested!”  Dealing with the Ultimate Brush Off Objection – We’ve all heard it and it’s a tough nut to crack.  This article provides a rather provocative strategy to dealing with it.

#9:  8 Tips on How to Make a Perfect Follow Up Call – By far and away, this has been the most read article I have ever written.  Thousands and thousands of hits around the world. Find out why.

#10: 5 Ways to Overcome the Dreaded “Let Me Think About It” Objection – Don’t be caught off guard when a prospect tosses out this objection.  Here are 5 ways to deal with it.

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1 Quick Question How to Overcome “Knee Jerk” Objections and Get the Prospect Talking

Are you frustrated with prospects that shut you down and brush you off after you’ve finished your opening statement?

You know the type of objection I am talking about: you barely utter your name and the prospect says, “We’re happy with our present supplier,” or “I’m in a meeting,” or “I am busy right now,” or “Just send me something in the mail,” or any number of other knee jerk objections. And just like that, the call is over.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  You can reduce the impact of knee jerk objections and speak to more decision makers if you apply a smart little technique called “1 Quick Question” (1QQ).

Knee Jerk Objections

As the name implies, a knee jerk objection is a reflexive objection that typically occurs at the beginning of a call. They occur because the prospect was not expecting your call and the automatic response is to toss out an objection.  They do so out of the compelling need to protect themselves “from being sold” and out of the desire to get rid of you as soon as possible. Most tele-sales reps oblige them by lamely mumbling an apology and hanging up. Sound familiar? Don’t be a victim.

How to Deal With the Knee Jerk

Three are three steps to dealing with the knee jerk type objections.

Step #1: Empathize

When you hear a knee jerk objection your first step is to empathize with the client. Say something like, “I understand,” or “I appreciate that.”  This does two things. First, it acknowledges the prospect’s objection. It shows you have listened to the remark and that you understand. Second, it buys you a second or two to collect your thoughts and respond.

Step #2: Ignore the Objection

Ignore what you hear. Don’t fall for the objection. It’s a mistruth. You know it’s a brush off and so does the prospect. Responding to the stated objection therefore a waste of time. So don’t honor it with a retort. Ignore it.

Step #3: Ask “1 Quick Question”

Apply the 1 Quick Question (1QQ) technique. The 1QQ is simply a way to forge ahead with the call before the prospect hangs up. It is extremely easy to apply. Here are some examples to give you a feel for how it works:

Example #1:

Prospect:         “I’m in a meeting right now!”

Rep:                “I understand completely. Just one quick question before I go…”

Example #2:

Prospect:         “I’m happy with our present supplier.”

Rep:               “I’m happy to hear that. Jeff, one quick question if you don’t mind…”

Example #3:

Prospect:         “We don’t need anything right now.”

Rep:                 “I appreciate that. Before I go one quick question.”

You can see the pattern. The rep empathizes but does not directly respond to the objection. Instead he uses the 1QQ technique. It works because the majority of prospects realize that they have been a bit dismissive and possibly rude. (This was their “knee jerk” response).  By politely asking ‘one quick question’, many prospects feel the need to soften up a bit and give you a quick answer before they terminate the call.

Now here’s the interesting thing. Depending on the nature of your question, one quick question often leads to two or three or more questions. Think of it as a wedge in the door. The better your question the greater the opportunity to get your prospect to open up further.

How to Create Your 1QQ

The key to making the 1QQ work for you is your question. Your first step to developing 1QQ is to identify a pain, a problem or a predicament that the prospect typically experiences and that you can solve.  You only have one shot at getting the wedge in the door so your question has to go directly to an issue that is significant to the average prospect.

Developing your 1QQ will take some time and thought but once you have it you’ll be able to use it with virtually every call. So think hard: what is the number one problem your clients experience?

For example, suppose you sell magazine subscriptions to educators that help the teachers plan their curriculum. The problem that many teachers experience is time and it takes to develop new, creative and effective class plans. Here’s one quick question that might work.

“Mr. Gunderson, one quick question before I go: do you find it frustrating and time consuming to prepare a daily curriculum for your classes?”

The second step is to have another question prepared. If possible create a question that quantifies the problem. For instance, if Gunderson does find it frustrating and time consuming to prepare a daily curriculum your next question might be:

“If I may, roughly how much time do you spend preparing…say, on a daily basis?”

By doing so, the prospect begins to see the magnitude of their problem and may get curious enough to let you continue.

The third step is to pursue your line of questioning, identify the need and proceed as you normally would.


The 1QQ technique gives you an edge by helping to create an opportunity. While not every client will answer your one quick question some will and that’s the strength of the technique.

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What’s Important to You is Not Important to Them

Here’s the thing: selling something is far more important to you than it is to your prospect or your client.  Think about this for a moment because it is rather profound and it often dictates your approach to a buyer.

Your job is to sell product, to make a commission, to achieve your objectives, to keep your boss happy. And so with single minded focus off you go into the world of tele-sales. I get that.

The trouble is, your client or prospect doesn’t get that. They don’t give a flyin’  fig.

They could care less about you. They don’t care about your quota. They couldn’t give two hoots if you are lagging behind in sales or leading the pack. They don’t give a damn if  your boss is on your back.  They simply don’t CARE.

They care about one thing and one thing only.


They care about their needs, wants, desires, goals aspirations, opportunities, problems, concerns, issues and worries. Can you blame them?

And therein lies the inevitable clash.

When you call a prospect and put your interests, needs and desires at the forefront there an immediate disconnect.  At a conscious or subconscious level, the prospect puts up a shield of indifference or annoyance because it is abundantly clear that the call is not about him or her, but about you. They see it. As clear as glass.

So here’s the point: make your call about them. Shape your call around them.

Before you pick up the phone, make absolutely certain that your opening statement focuses on the benefits a client can possibly achieve, not about your latest software upgrade or  your hot mutual fund or special offer on wiper blades.  When you engage your client, question them about their situation, their problems, their opportunities. DON”T tell, explain, pontificate, brag, lecture or preach about your products, your services, your unique selling proposition or your special offer.

This is SO simple yet it is ignored daily by tele-sales reps (and field reps) across the continent.

THINK before you dial. PLAN before you dial.

The make your call and make it about them.

Because that’s what’s important.

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The McCarthy Opener A Different Kind of Opening Statement

“What’s a good opening line when prospecting?”

Next to: “How do you get past voice mail?” this question is most often asked by sales reps who attend my training sessions.  Anyone in sales knows how difficult it is to capture a prospect’s fickle and fleeting attention especially if you sell “like” or “identical” products or services. And if you can’t grab their attention you are not going to sell them.

Here is an opening statement that has had some remarkable success and is something you might be able to adapt to your situation.

The McCarthy Opener

It’s called the McCarthy Opener because I stole it from Ryan McCarthy, a sales rep for Softchoice Corporation, a company that sells computer hardware and software. You can’t get a more “like” product than hardware and software. I have taken a few liberties in the example below, but the key components of Ryan’s approach are evident:

“Jim? This is Ryan McCarthy calling from Softchoice Corporation. We are a reseller of hardware and software technologies.

And Jim, believe me, I know you can get this kind of stuff at a lot of different places. But we really do things differently here at Softchoice to add value for our customers by helping them, among other things, develop strategies to mitigate legal risks associated with software purchasing.

If I have caught you at good time, I would like to ask you some questions and, if it makes senses to do so, provide you with a presentation that explains how Softchoice approaches the market.

How does that sound?”

Initial Reaction

When I first heard Ryan deliver this opening statement, my jaw hit the desk.  It seemed so flippant, so off the cuff that I had difficulty imaging that anyone would give him the time of day.  Well, I was dead wrong.  Ryan went three for three on getting clients to listen. He also used it as a voice mail message and got a response.  He explained that he had tested numerous opening statements and this one had the best hit rate.


After giving it some thought, it occurred to me that this opening statement works because it has the right mix of words that conjure up positive thoughts in the client’s mind. When you look at the opening statement you will see there are four distinct parts.

Part #1: Identification

Pretty standard here: Ryan introduces himself and his company. He also includes a very brief description of what Softchoice does. This is helpful for a prospect that may not be familiar with the company.

Part #2: The Hook

This is where the opening statement really excels.

Ryan’s hook begins when he says “…believe me, I know you can get this kind of stuff at a lot of different places.” The statement is absolutely refreshing and candid. No one expects a sales rep to be so forthright; so blatantly honest. Consequently, it catches the prospect off guard and because it does, the prospect is drawn further into the opening statement. He listens because he is intrigued. You can almost hear the prospect say, “Wow, that’s a line I haven’t heard before.”

Because the prospect is truly listening it makes the second part of the hook more effective. The second part of the hook is the benefit statement. Ryan refers to how Softchoice can help mitigate legal risk associated with the use of software licensing.  To an IT director at a business firm, this is a pertinent topic. (Ryan has other benefits that he can insert here as well).

Part #3:  Reason for the Call

The third part of the opening statement is the reason for the call.  Ryan’s reason for the call is to set up presentation call. It is NOT to sell, it is not to send a proposal, it is not to provide a quote and it not even to set up a face to face presentation.  For the prospect, the reason for the call is relatively harmless. In other words, there is no concern that he will be ‘pitched’ a product or a service. This helps drop the reserve that many prospect have with unknown vendors.

Ryan positions it effectively too. He uses the phrase “…if it makes sense.” This is an excellent choice of words.  Again, the prospect does not feel he is being “pitched.” He understands that he is not being cornered. The implication is that if it doesn’t make sense then the call will go no further.  The prospect is put at ease and is more receptive.

Part #4:  The Bridge to a Dialog

The last part of the opener is very ‘techniquey’ but very effective.  Using the phrase, “if I caught you at a good time…” Ryan shows respect for the prospect’s time but he inserts that thought with a request to ask a few questions. He sums it up by asking: “How does that sound?” What this statement really does is it stops Ryan from talking further and gets the prospect engaged in the dialog.

If the prospect says yes, the first ‘sale’ has been made. Ryan has sold the prospect on asking questions. At this stage, Ryan goes on to qualify the account and determines if a follow up presentation makes sense.

Speaking of presentations, Softchoice did their homework. They developed a compelling USP – unique selling proposition- and bundled it into an effective presentation. Obviously, for this opening statement you need to understand and develop your own unique selling proposition. You need to be able to articulate what makes you “different.” You don’t necessary have to have a Power Point presentation but you should certainly have a clear and concise message.


The McCarthy Openers works well in almost any industry or market. I have “borrowed” the template and tested it with several other clients.  It doesn’t work 100% of the time but it does get more people to listen further.  It works well because it is different and unique.  Prospects have become jaded with slick and cheesy openers. This opening statement cuts through the clutter because it is bold and brassy. It tells it like it is and prospects seem to respect it. Give it a try.

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Are you Guilty? The Top 7 Mistakes B2B Tele-Sales Reps Make

Using the telephone to prospect and sell is tough enough without making matters worse.  Here is a little of the Top 7 mistakes the most B2B tele-sales reps typically make.  Are you guilty?

1. Not Having a Clearly Defined Call Objective

When calling there are two objectives: the prime objective and secondary objectives. The prime objective is the #1 thing you want to accomplish on this particular call. And no, the primary objective is not always to get the sale. The sale maybe three calls down the line. Primary objectives could be such things as determining if budget is available, identify ALL the key decision makers, spending time getting to know the client on a personal level, learning more about the company.  Primary objectives are what you MUST accomplish. Finish this phrase: at the end of this call I want to ________.

Secondary objectives are things you would like to accomplish. If you don’t achieve them, no problem; perhaps some other time. Secondary objectives are ‘nice to haves’ but not necessary to have.

Knowing your objectives provides you with focus and concentration. They dictate your opening, questioning, presenting, objections handling and advancing at the sale. They make you work smarter, faster and more successful.

2. Winging it – Not Having a Plan

Winging it refers to picking up the phone and hoping you have achieve your primary objective (if you have one).  Planning a call means knowing having a decent opening statement that engages the client, having questions prepared, listing key points you want to make, noting an objections you might encounter and having a close or an advance. It takes less than thirty seconds.

3. Poor Opening Statement

Most opening statements are lame and typically, uninspiring. A good opening statement features a benefit that intrigues the prospect (or the existing customer) to tune in and listen a little longer. A good opener differentiates your call and increases your chances of achieving your call objectives.

4. Surrendering to Objections

Whether they come at the beginning of a call or at the end of a call, objections are part of tele-sales and should not come as a surprise. Yet many reps respond as though they have never heard someone say, “I’m busy right now,” or “E-mail me something” or “Call me next week” and simply surrender to the comment. Don’t quit so easily. Learn how to respond to the classic objections by using questioning to determine if the objection is legitimate or false.

5. Failing to Ruthlessly Qualify

Some reps are so dang glad they’ve reached a live person who is willing to talk to them that they immediately jump to the pitch or the offer. They babble like brooks and hope that something they’ve flung out there will stick. Smart reps use questions to determine key information and whether it is worth their time and effort to pursue. Ruthlessly qualify and determine such critcal information such as is there a legitimate need, who are the decision makers, is budget available, when would a decision occur or whatever else you need to continue the sales cycle.

6. Failure to Get Firm Commitment

Some tele-sales reps make the mistake of failing to get commitment to the next step of the sales cycle.  For instance, the client agrees to reviewing a proposal and the reps says, “Great, I’ll call you next week.” That’s vague. Getting commitment means two things: getting the client to agree to some sort of actions (a webinar, a tele-seminar, review a proposal, examine a quote etc.) and agreeing to a date and time for the next step.  For instance, “Okay Mike, I’ll sign you up for tomorrow’s webinar and what I’d like to do is recommend we set up Thursday morning to review your thoughts and determine the next steps if any. How does 9:15 look on your calendar for then?”

7. Not Being Persistent in Following Up

About 87% of tele-sales reps give up after one attempt at cold calling or follow up. About 97% give up after the second attempt. To avoid this mistake, you need to go beyond one or two follow ups. Think three, four or five follow ups spaces about three days apart. Use voice mail and e-mail. Be polite but be persistent.

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4 Simple Steps to Building a Perfect ESCALATOR – not Elevator- Speech

The trouble with a classic elevator speech is that in tele-sales no one has the time or the inclination to hear what you have to say.

Communicating by phone is different than face to face where a suspect or a prospect will grant you a few more moments if only to be courteous. On the phone it is simple and easy for a prospect to terminate the call and that’s one of the main reasons why you need an escalator speech.

An escalator speech is an abbreviated version of an elevator speech and it is absolutely vital in the world of B to B tele-sales. Whereas an elevator speech is based on the premise that you present what you do over the time it takes to travel a few floors up an elevator, the escalator speech is based on the premise that you  present what you do in the time it takes to travel only one floor.

Why Else You Need an Escalator Speech

Apart from the fact that the prospect can easily wriggle out of a phone conversation, you need an escalator speech because the average prospect can only absorb so much from an unsolicited call.  Too often, tele-sales reps try to cover all the bases of what they do and, at best, this confuses the prospect with clutter and at worst, it overwhelms them.

A good escalator speech is short, simplified, succinct and laser-like. In effect, it imprints a single core message that is more likely to be remembered by your prospect. If you do this you’ll have creates a competitive edge.

How to Craft a Good Escalator Speech

Step #1:  Identify Who You Work With

Define you target market.  If you sell to engineers or single moms or small business owners or IT directors or high school educators or whoever, say that up front.  This simple tip creates instant affinity. At a conscious or subconscious level your prospect understands that what you do relates personally to them.

What you DON’T want to do is say that you are a ‘sales rep,’ an investment advisor, a consultant, a business development rep, an account manager or whatever. That’s a title, not a description. Who cares and who remembers?

Step #2:  Relate What You Do Well to a Problem or an Opportunity

Weave in a motivator. You must  reference to a “pain” or “gain” or a problem or an opportunity that you can solve or help achieve.  You need to pick at a scab, so to speak. This will get their heads to turn.  You don’t have to heap it on; just make reference to the irritant or benefit.

Step #3: Use the WIDI or WWDI Template

Is order to bring absolute consistency in the delivery of your message (and to make it easier to learn) use one of these to phrase to help build your escalator speech:

WIDI – What I do is.
WWDI –What We do is.

Putting it all together here some simple examples:

“What I do is I work with engineers and architects who struggle to find the time to get their yearly accreditation.”

“What I do is I work with single moms who are worried about their retirement future.”

“What I do is I consult with chiropractors who are interested in growing the revenues and profitability of their practice.”

“What we do is work with small hardware stores who struggle to find affordable, every day products.”

“What I do is work with B to B distributors who struggle to use the phone to sell and market their products.”

“What we do is help hospitals manage product costs.”

Notice the brevity of each escalator speech. Sure you may do more. Heck, you may do a lot more! But no one is interested at the stage of the game. Play your strongest card. If you catch the client’s interest they’ll ask for additional information.

Step #4 Practice

You tired of hearing it but practice DOES make perfect. Practicing will make the words flow. It will make the speech sound natural and relaxed.  If you don’t practice you’ll be self conscious and you’ll stop using it.

Where to Use the Escalator Speech

You can use the escalator speech

  • opening statements after you identify the name of your company
  • as an introduction to your company in your presentation
  • as a heading on your e-mails, letters or faxes
  • on brochures
  • on business cards
  • at  networking events
  • virtually anywhere


Elevators speeches are important. An escalator speech can easily be expanded to an elevator speech when you are granted the time or the opportunity.  Use the escalator when time is important but also when you want to make a single, memorable impact.

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