Talking to New Customers: 5 Ice-Breaking Conversation Starters

When it comes to making sales, much is based on the art of conversation and on making real connections. The problem for many is finding ways to start conversations. That is, going beyond the basic self-introduction and moving on to something that will create an opening that leads to a meaningful conversation.

Icebreakers can turn acquaintances into customers.
Icebreakers can turn acquaintances into customers.

Without this type of connection, there is little chance that the salesperson will enjoy the benefits hoped for. After all, the point is not to see how many people can be added to a list of acquaintances and potential customers, the goal is to turn these people into customers.

Make it About Them

One of the basic rules of thumb is to keep the focus on the other person. For instance, the salesperson should have some information about the business the individual is in and, therefore, some things that are important to him/her.

This provides a certain insight that makes it easier for the salesperson to show a genuine interest in the other person’s business. In this way, it is much easier to truly connect and develop a rapport with the potential customer.

When it comes down to it, people like to do business with people who understand them; they like to feel they have friends in the business. The best way to be that friend is to be authentic in working to help potential clients and customers.

Easy Icebreakers

With these things in mind, there are some easy conversation starters that can be used to break the ice when meeting new and potential customers. The salesperson should also remember that part of the meeting process is working to find out if the potential customer really can use the help that is available, and if he or she has the ability (including the authority as well as the funding) to buy what is being offered.

The idea is to ask questions that will provide in-depth answers, or at least provide responses that allow the salesperson to make educated guesses. The icebreaker should open up a conversation and help set the stage for some bonding or connecting to occur. In addition, the questions asked should be geared to elicit detailed responses that will help the asker learn more about the responder.

Use icebreakers to turn a meeting into a long-term and profitable business relationship.
Use icebreakers to turn a meeting into a long-term and profitable business relationship.

Of course, every meeting should begin with an introduction. This should include a smile, eye contact, and a handshake. This introduction may be followed by something as simple as a comment about the weather or the traffic, but it should ease into a few ice-breaking questions.

Icebreaker #1: Tell me about your (organization, business, product, re-organization, etc.).

Ideally the salesperson will already have some basic information about the topic. That will enable him/her to show the potential client that some homework has been done. This demonstrates a concern and dedication. It also allows the salesperson to show empathy to any problems. Plus, it provides an opportunity to hear the prospect’s priorities.

Icebreaker #2:  What is working well for your (organization, business, product, re-organization, etc.)?

This information helps the salesperson understand what the potential client will appreciate in a solution. It helps him/her conceptualize things from the potential customer’s perspective.

Icebreaker #3: What isn’t working well for your (organization, business, product, re-organization, etc.)?

Like Icebreaker #2, this question provides lots of information for the salesperson. It allows him/her to provide workable solutions that can be presented at a later time.

Icebreaker #4: What other options or solutions have been considered?

The response to this question will provide keen insights into the probabilities of working with the client. The salesperson may already be familiar with competing alternatives or will at least have an opportunity to do research about other options before the next meeting with this prospect.

Icebreaker #5: Do you or the executive staff have specific budget considerations?

Obviously, learning about budget concerns is important for both the salesperson and the potential customer. This empowers the salesperson to project the support from the executive level and other related issues.

Why Icebreakers Are Important

The reality is, the initial meeting with prospects is only the beginning. The use of well-planned icebreakers will allow salespersons to connect with potential customers.


Debbie Allen is a full-time online marketer and writer who enjoys writing about home and garden issues, the ever-changing price of gold, self-development, and more.

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