Direct Sales Strategy: Icebreaker

February 22, 2017 | Direct Sales Icebreakers

from Tradeshow Basecamp™

Sales in “Five Easy Steps”

Tina Nicola, M.A.

Tina is the founder of and has been creating profitable marketing and exhibit strategies for startups, small businesses and nonprofits for over nineteen years. Her main goal is to broaden access to the techniques she has developed so anyone can benefit and improve exhibiting strategy, sales conversations and follow up.

Need a Direct Sales Strategy? Step 1: Icebreaker

Icebreakers aren’t just useful at parties. At many direct sales events, your job is to sell products to strangers. Before you can sell to them, you’ve got to get that stranger to stop!

An Icebreaker is the question or comment you will use to stop a potential customer.

An Icebreaker starts the sales conversation that gives you the opportunity to sell!

“Stopping traffic? Not my job!”

Think again! Yes, your Marketing team should prepare for your direct sales event with plenty of pre-event marketing. In an ideal world, that pre-marketing will result in a steady stream of customers heading to your exhibit area all day long.

The reality? In order to make the most of a direct sales event, you’ll still need to actively engage potential customers. That means starting conversations with strangers in a way that can lead to a sale.

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Be Active with Sales Icebreakers

If your goal is to sell at a direct sales event, you must plan an active exhibiting strategy. Being active rather than passive starts with the Icebreaker.

Active Sales Reps look like this 🙂

  • Stands at the edge of the company exhibit
  • Smiles often, looking open and friendly
  • Uses Icebreakers to stop and start a conversation with people passing by
  • Thinks of every Passerby as a potential customer

Passive Sales Reps look like this 🙁

  • Sits in the exhibit
  • Makes self look ‘busy’ by reading or looking at the computer
  • Waits to be spoken to before talking to a stranger, even one in the exhibit area
  • Assumes all potential customers will take the initiative to walk into the booth and ask a question.
  • Thinks using Icebreakers is ‘pushy’

Being passive will DESTROY your chance to have conversations that could lead to sales!

Sales Icebreakers Start with Open-Ended Questions

The best Icebreakers use open-ended questions. These are usually questions that begin with: Who? What? When? Why?

They are called open-ended questions because they require more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to answer.

In contrast, questions that begin with ‘Do’ or ‘Have’ or ‘Are’ can be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ These questions don’t get strangers to stop, if they get an answer at all!

The Psychology Behind Sales Icebreakers

Most people feel a subconscious obligation to respond to a question when they are asked one. However, in many cultures, questions like “How are you?” are simply used as greetings. When we hear these questions, we don’t truly feel they require a reply.

In contrast, an open-ended question demands a reply. A stranger will frequently stop or at least pause long enough to think of an appropriate reply.

That’s why questions like these are effective in starting conversations with a potential customer:

  • “What are you looking for at this event?”
  • “Who did you come with today?”
  • “When is the last time you tried a new salsa?”

Even when the the question is slightly awkward sounding (like the salsa one above), you are much more likely to get a stranger to stop and talk to you!

From Icebreaker to Step 2: Quick Intro

Once you’ve used a sales Icebreaker to draw a potential customer into conversation, it’s time for the Quick Intro!

A Direct Sales Beginner?
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1 thought on “Direct Sales Strategy: Icebreaker

  1. […] are open-ended questions that pressure passersby to stop and respond. Check out our article on breaking the ice for how to create great […]

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