June 3, 2022

#46 - Starting a sales call: Making the first 5 minutes count

The best way to have a great sales call is to start by having a great sales call. At the beginning... in the first five minutes. Because first impressions matter. And establishing credibility and rapport and momentum all matter.

In this long-ish (12 whole minutes!) episode, Brendan and Bob talk about how to get your sales call started. With actionable tips, examples, and goofy asides. We hope you like it!

The best way to have a great sales call is to start by having a great sales call. At the beginning... in the first five minutes. Because first impressions matter. And establishing credibility and rapport and momentum all matter.

In this long-ish (12 whole minutes!) episode, Brendan and Bob talk about how to get your sales call started. With actionable tips, examples, and goofy asides. We hope you like it!

To learn more about B2B sales and get regular updates, sales tips, templates and other resources, sign up for Brendan's newsletter here. And to purchase Sales Craft: Proven Tips, Practices and Ideas to Advance your Sales Success, click here.


If you'd like to learn more about what we do, then please visit:


 Okay. In this episode of Let's Chat Sales, we're going to get kind of meta and talk specifically about the first couple of minutes of a sales call. 

And how to get it started because so much of the success in the sales call is in the first couple of minutes. So we'll  dive into that. 

And again, as always, if you like this, do the like and subscribe thing and let's get started.  

Hey, Bob, it is another edition... another episode... I keep saying it... whatever the hell this thing is,  it's just, Let's Chat Sales. 

It's Let's Chat Sales, and it's a thought experiment. 

And today I wanted to talk about, yeah, yeah.

I want to talk about human construct. W, uh, anyway, uh, let I wouldn't talk about how you get the call started. 

You've booked a call. I really want to talk about the first couple of minutes when things get started.

So the first thing I think the thing that's really important is... to be on time.

That just, that takes so much of the pressure off. If you show 

up. What does on time mean to you, 

I'm curious. 

If you have a call at two o'clock in the afternoon, you are on the call and waiting at two o'clock. 

Not five minutes early?

These days five minutes is probably a little ridiculous... unless it's a presentation.

If you're doing some formal presentation, then yeah. But you want to allow for the fact that it may be a different, uh, Video conferencing service. 

You know where every time you have to load a new one, that's that could be three or four minutes. So you gotta be kind of careful,...

But, uh, you want to be on the call ... if you have a call at two o'clock you to be on at two o'clock. You're waiting for them to get on... and you're ready at two, which means you've done your preparation.

So you start the call. 

And you've eliminated 


Yeah. You don't have any distractions. Right. 

I had a call yesterday was someone in there. They had dogs that were just barking all the way through the discussion. And it was impossible to hear.

You know what that's normal these days . Isn't that weird? It's completely normal.

I've had, I've had customers that with their cat on the table.

It's off-putting, though.

It is what it is. You just roll with it. You know, I, my dogs, every now and then they'll go nuts for the typically  the mail delivery person, but otherwise, um, so, so you have to be ready.

So the first secret to getting a call started right, is, is being prepared ahead of time, even just for a few minutes.

You know, these are standard stuff we talk about all the time. What are the objectives you want? What are the two main objectives you want to accomplish on this call?

What are the main objectives that you think your customer wants to accomplish? 

What are their expectations for the call? That helps you a lot. And so then what? Then... how do you, how do you break the ice? What do you do? 

I usually just talk about if it's a zoom call or a video call, I'll talk about something in their background.

Yeah, like literally physical background. Like... oh, I like that picture. Tell me about that picture.

I will also just ask people... hey, so what's gone well for you today and usually I get... wow, that's an interesting question. 

Let me think about, well, I guess it's really great that my kids got themselves off without my help. 

Oh, wow. Congratulations. That must feel great as a parent. From there, then we'll transition to it. So I'm trying to build that human connection right off the bat, because ultimately that's what matters. 

Yeah. So how do you do that?

  For me, it's, um, I go to humor, you know.

That works well.

Right? Yeah. 

If you're good at it and we'll save that for another episode, but do you talk about  the weather or do you talk about something topical...

uh, I think the secret for me is I want to get them talking. So in the first minute or two... oftentimes there's a lull. 

You're waiting for people, waiting for people to show up or get ready. And so... I think that one of the secret things is to ask a question that is not a yes / no answer. 

An open-ended question about something... and then get them talking.

And that sort of forces them to take the conversation in a certain direction... and then you go along.

You know, it's kind of funny.  I just mentioned humor. Improv... You know, I'm thinking about this right now...

improv would be a really good background for someone in sales, you know, just because to be able to figure out how to follow up on a lead. How to follow up on a conversation. How to build on something.


I actually took a two hour class in improv. It was really, it was very interesting and also very complicated. Yeah. There's a lot going on there that when you watch on TV or when you see it at a place it doesn't show how hard it is. 

Yeah. So what else?            

 I'll ask them a question about the agenda, maybe.


I often ask, if this were a successful call, what would it look like at the end? 

Really? You asked that? Or that's how you, that seems very.  

I don't,  I might dress it up a little softer, but that's the gist of it. 

Yeah. I'd say I'm much more kind of casual that way.

 Like... so we got an agenda, so here's what I got on the agenda. We're talking about this, right? Who are we waiting on? I'm like... who else are we waiting on? 

You're doing a lot of large group sales calls, right? 

Large group. Give me a lot of people in the call at the same time?


Most of mine are one-on-one. Yeah. 

Uh, I do a little, both. I do like three or four. There'll be three or four people on a call sometimes. And so you're waiting around for someone.

So there's this, there's that awkward moment where you're trying to figure out how to... I'll sometimes start with what I just was working on.

Oh, I just got off this... And I was talking about this.  These days and, well, this is a separate conversation we'll have to have is, the economy. 

I'll ask them ... how is the market? What are things like? What's your market looking like. Like what do you make of the latest things with interest rates?

Are they going to affect you? Or some thing that gets them even a little bit off balance that they didn't expect me to talk about. Didn't we're going to talk about interest rates... and then it  causes them to pour an 

Entrepreneur in Residence. So you're a learned, man.

We mortals don't have the time to keep track of the nuances of the interest rates. 

It's just, it's, it's a 

proactive on that. I'm more reactive. 

But the point I'm trying to make is ... it's a question that kind of puts them... it's a little unexpected, which causes two things to happen.

One is they have to pause because they didn't see it coming. And hopefully it's interesting. 

And if it's interesting, it gets a response. And it tells you, it probably tells you a lot about who you're talking to. Right?

Because we have to think about... oh,  that's an interesting question. This isn't some jamoke, you know. He's, he's thinking about it.

Like, and especially if you can come back and say... here's why I asked. Right? 

If they, if they're stumped, you come back with... here's why I asked, because I'm seeing this happen in the market. 

And I was just wondering what your perspective was and, and then all of a sudden... 

they're looking at you and thinking... oh, this isn't some sales guy, right.

He's thinking about this... from a business standpoint. And I think one of the things you want to do in the first couple of minutes is put them at ease that you're not a salesperson... 

in the sense that, in that cliche traditional sense that... oh, he's pushy.

He's trying to... 

the usual start ...okay, I'm glad you're all here. Let me explain to you what I do and why it's so important to your company. Yeah. 

And by the way, that's a great point. When someone says... 

Thank you... I've been waiting all these weeks to get to one. 

You've had several, I write them down, you know, you know?

So no, but here's the point is that at the start of these calls, there's oftentimes this... all right, let's everybody introduce themselves, right? That happens. Oh, man. Right. Um, for 

those of you listening, Brendan, just 

so it's just, uh... listen, fight the urge to give someone a long-winded rendition of your CV.

People go on and they'll go on. I did this, I did this. Nobody cares. 

That's what LinkedIn is for. 

Right. Either one you're going to end up boring the crap out of them. Right. And two, they're going to look at you and think... oh, he's a pompous ass. 

Well, I don't care. I don't care that you hung the moon. I don't care.

Unless you're, unless you landed on the moon, don't talk about that. Right? Right. 

And then if you landed on the moon, you can just say... hey, I'm Neil Armstrong. Right? You don't have to see anymore.

Right. So, so just spare us the whole longwinded..., Hey, I've been in sales for a long time. That's where I say, like I'm in sales for a long time.

And here's my role. This is what I do. I'm customer relationship brown. I'm the chief customer relationship officer. W whatever. 

And then, boom... what do you do? And then if they give their whole CV,  my recommendation... feign interest. 

But most people like most people don't care. Right. And, and if you are going to see something about your background, make an interesting, like  introduce some failure... I did, this was a disaster, you know, now I'm doing healthcare, blah, blah, blah. Yep. 

No, I agree with that. And I also, if someone asks me for, you know, so tell us a little bit about yourself.

I will give them the highlights relative to the situation. Yeah. I won't tell my went to this college or that college, unless it's exactly on point. 


And that's also, I think Brendan, uh, prep that you do in terms of looking at someone's LinkedIn, bio, looking at their website, really understanding who and what they are before you get on that call.


It makes a difference. Yeah. 

 The other thing I think is helpful is... in the first couple of minutes, someone has to establish themselves as running the call. 

And if it's a large group and there's some alpha male or female from the other company, and they want to run things... you want to know that, right?

If you got some senior person than they're used to running things, then you got to figure that out. That's one important things. 

But in a lot of cases, you got people on the call and they may not know why they're on the call. Right? Correct. I got the invite.

Right. Uh, you know, um, I don't know why I'm here. 

Oh, well...

It beats doing my job for an hour. 

Right. So, right.  So at some point Very early on, you have to decide... this person is leading the call. 

Or... you're going to lead the call. Right. 

And it's a really uncomfortable call, uh, if nobody is running it. If there's nobody in charge.

Now, in some cases it's very collaborative and friendly and it's, and it turns into something that is, there's a certain chemistry... great!

But in a lot of cases, somebody needs to kind of orchestrate things and keep things on track.

And 90% of the time, it should be you. Because someone else is...

And watching the clock.

And watching the clock. We talk about that elsewhere, about the importance of like leaving time at the end, 

leaving a margin of time at the end to wrap things up, put a nice bow around it. So people aren't dropping off  mid conversation.

Oh, I gotta go. I got a hard stop, blah, blah, blah. 

So I think those are kind of important things to establish right in the first two or three minutes.

If you can get the call going right early on, then I think you have a much greater chance of success. 

But it's incumbent upon you because I don't think anybody else is going to do it. 

I've had calls where, if I start late, I'm already on my back foot. I'm already at a disadvantage. 

So it makes me nuts if I'm late. So I, I can't stand being late. If I am going to be late and I can text people beforehand, I'm going to tell them... hey, I'm running a few minutes late... because my dog ate my, my webcam.

It hasn't actually happened, but, um, uh, I would, I would recommend people not use that excuse. I didn't think so. Anyway, anything else? 

No, I just, I, did you hear that? I just dropped. I just dropped a, uh, a remote control on it. Battery spewed everywhere. 

And that's there. They're designed to do that. That's exactly how they're engineered.

Well, I've got a battery. That's now about eight feet away from me. Rolling. 

So I'm 

good. I think we covered a lot. I think if people have comments or if they want talk to us more about love to have that discussion, because I think it's really important topic. Yeah. 

Leave a comments in the doobley-doo right.

Or send us a note... and if there's something else we going to have on the show, if there's a topic we gotta be covering, let us know. 

Right. Because we're always eager to 

chat. That's what we do. We, that's what we do here. All right. 

All right. We take that around and beat it on.


do another one someday. What do you say? 

What the heck. See you Brendan. 

Uh, wrap that up. Uh, another episode of Let's Chat Sales, and I hope you found it helpful. It wasn't too bad, right? It was pretty good. Actually. I thought you pretty useful. Uh, but this one here is even better. So you're going to like this one.