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How to really break the ice on sales calls

When you walk into a prospect's office to meet for the first time, forget the small talk, sales columnist Geoffrey James advises. On Inc.com, he demolishes the usual icebreaker of offering a compliment on something in the person's office, such as a family photo.

"Almost everybody who comes into that office for the first time makes that exact same remark. So that icebreaker just makes you one of the crowd," he writes.

Making a comment about something in the news is also a waste, because it is irrelevant to the reason you're there.

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He urges you instead to offer a remark that shows you have thought about the prospect and the company. That can then be used as a segue to how you can help the firm. This means doing your research, but such a comment signals you are serious and intent on doing business.

For example, mention that you gleaned from Linked-in that the person used to work in the telecom industry, where alliances are common; use that to shift to the strategic alliance you want to propose. Or note that the company recently announced a reorganization and discuss how your firm can help reduce inventory.

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About the Author
Management columnist

Harvey Schachter is a Kingston, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online column, Power Points. More

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