Opening is as important as closing.

Opening is as important as closing.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

On a sales call your professionalism is the first thing a customer or prospect sees. Then comes that all important first line.

Your delivery, sincerity and creativity set the tone for the rest of the conversation. It also determines how the prospect listens. If you get attention and respect, you are likely to keep it throughout. If not, you’re likely to leave empty handed.

If you’re on the phone, the opening line is even more important. It’s all you’ve got. You can’t say look at my nice suit. It’s just words.

It is critical to understand that if a prospect doesn’t know you, the only thing on his mind is what do you want. The faster you get to the point the better.

Are there standard, stock lines you can use? Sure there are. But if your line and delivery are insincere or poorly delivered, you will be as successful in sales as you are in your local nightclub trying to attract the opposite sex. Turned down.

Opening is as important as closing if you can’t get past the gatekeeper, you can never get to try for the prize. If you can’t impress the prospect you won’t get the contract. And if you aren’t perceived as professional, sincere and competent, it will soon reflect in your weekly paycheck.

Opening lines on a cold call (in person):

  1. Can you help me?

This is by far the most effective way to start a conversation. People love to help, and don’t feel on guard against a salesperson. Remember, the object is to get the prospect to listen. “Can you help me” almost commands the other person to pay attention. Other lines that are effective are…

  1. I’d like to leave (or mail) you a brochure about (type of product or service), who should I leave it for?
  2. I’d like to leave some information for the person who decides about (type of product or service), who would that be?

In either #2 or #3, if you leave information, writing a personal note to the decider on the back of your business card goes a long way towards getting through on the follow up call.

Cold call (on the phone)


  • GET TO THE POINT FAST (state your purpose within the first two sentences).
  • Smile when you talk.
  • Give your name and company.
  • Make it short and sweet.
  • Try to be somewhat humorous.
  • Offer or ask for help.
  • State that you have important information.

For many years I have said “Hi my name is Jeffrey, my company is BuyGitomer and you don’t know me from a sack of potatoes,” and then make my request. I can tell by their reaction (laugh or no laugh) who I’m dealing with.

Avoid sales-sounding lines like great weather isn’t it, or the dreaded how are you today, or any lengthy description about you or your company before you get to the point.

Phone follow up

Use the same rules for cold phone calling and select from below…

  1. I’ve been thinking about what you do.
  2. I’ve got the answer to your question.
  3. I’ve got some important information that will impact your business.

A majority of salespeople make the fatal mistake of asking “did you get the information I sent you?” If the prospect says “no,” what do you say now genius? You can fumble about how you sent it three days ago, and how you can’t understand how that could have happened, but it’s lame, sounds defensive, and you have ruined any chances of making a positive call.

Try saying this instead. “I’m calling about the information I sent. It wasn’t completely self explanatory, and I’d like an opportunity to discuss it with you personally for about 510 minutes.”

If you want to gain some immediate benefit from reading this article today, make a list of the opening lines you use in your business, revise them, analyze them closely, and compare them to those of your coworkers. Try out your revised lines tomorrow. The results will surprise (and help) you.

Good or bad, your opening line will immediately establish an impression.
It sets the tone for the sale.


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