Achieving Ice Breaker Excellence
How will you stimulate their interest?2/15/2022 | Joel Schaffer, MAS, The Take Away
I opened the business section of the NYT (2-13-22) and there was a headline for the story…
“Desperately Seeking Ice Breakers”
Seems this person was asking for rock solid ice breakers as he or she had a new job and was working
from home and using the phone to generate business with HR managers.
This is a perfect question to ask in our industry. What is a great icebreaker? So, for a change, just maybe
you will post something after reading this and share your thoughts. Don’t worry, there are millions of
businesses and I doubt your words will come back to haunt you through a competitor.
As I said, there is no such thing as AN/ONE elevator speech. In that we do so much for so many different
parts of the private and public sector world, one pitch will not do it in the elevator or as an ice breaker.
No question, cold call or warm call, the phone is the gateway to sales growth. Getting to speak to the
contact is easier than knocking on doors, but there are still obstacles in the way and gatekeepers.
I did 15 years of interactive telephone workshops (PPAI may still have a recorded version). They are
aged, but not irrelevant. Upon the prospect picking up the phone, you have no more that 10-15 seconds
to get that person to continue the call and gain their interest. So, whatever you do, whatever I write, the
only way for you to achieve ice breaker excellence is to write It, or them, down, memorize the content
and then practice, practice, practice. Added to that is the what if section of your personal ice breaker
training. I had the top 10 what ifs in my seminars. Like… what if you are told I already have a vendor.
What if someone says “I don’t need any”. What if someone says, “My cousin is in the business”. What if
they say it is not my job?
Before any call, you need to think about your objective. That’s simple - to get an appointment, a certain
follow up call date, or get a referral. Second level success is when a customer says send me an email, a
catalog, etc. etc.
The first words out of your mouth are called the overture. It is like the overture at a musical. It reveals a
bit of what is ahead, if you listen to the performance. In that overture, you have to do a lot, a real lot.
One – You have to introduce yourself and company with a smile in your talk and in a warm and friendly
way. You must put forward a value proposition that will stimulate the prospect’s interest in continuing
the conversation. You know how quickly you tune out to telemarketers. There is no one value
proposition either. It will be different for sales managers, HR managers, safety directors, etc.
Beware…never articulate any products you are selling. This is not good. It opens up rejection and paints
an image of you immediately as a merchant of stuff.
Two – From your value proposition, you should present a deliverable and, as best you can, why you
believe you can deliver on what you said.
Three – You do need to subtly patronize the prospect because a bit of flattery will increase your chances
Four – You need to create open ended questions that draw the prospect in within a brief period of time.
Five – Sooner or later, if the prospect starts to talk to you, they are going to ask…what do you do? This
needs a well-crafted answer. Never list the kind of things you do. In your bag is “stuff”. I equate it with
pills the doctor has in a bag. However, you, like a doctor, evaluate the situation, identify the problem,
identify the needs and then, with the use of “stuff” and perhaps other treatments, recommend a course
My favorite is a flattering line build on a supposition. Bill, while we have never met, I am certain you are
the type of businessperson who is focused on increasing sales and, most of all, profits. You will get buy
in. This statement, guised as a question, is the conversation opener. With his or her agreement, your
value statement and possible deliverable follows. Here’s another… Bill, what if I can lower your
experiential factor by 15-20%, would you like to take a brief look at how we can lower your accident
Sally, everything I read tells me the nightmare HR is having in employee retention and hiring. How can
we help you improve this area and make your department a shining star?
My column is called The Take Away… I think you can take away a lot of reinforcement and
recommendations but , this time, how about adding your best icebreaker and becoming a mentor to
Joel D. Schaffer, MAS is CEO and Founder of Soundline, LLC, the pioneering supplier to the promotional products industry of audio products. Joel has 48 years of promotional product industry experience and proudly heralds “I was a distributor.” He has been on the advisory panel of the business and marketing department of St. John’s University in New York and is a frequent speaker at Rutgers Graduate School of Business. He is an industry Advocate and has appeared before the American Bankers Association, American Marketing Association, National Premium Sales Executives, American Booksellers Association and several other major groups. He has been a management consultant to organizations such as The College Board and helped many suppliers enter this industry. He is a frequent contributor to PPB and Counselor magazines. He has facilitated over 200 classes sharing his industry knowledge nationwide. He is known for his cutting humor and enthusiasm in presenting provocative and motivating programs. He is the only person to have received both the Marvin Spike Industry Lifetime Achievement Award (2002) and PPAI’s Distinguished Service Award (2011). He is a past director of PPAI and has chaired several PPAI committees and task forces. He is a past Chair of the SAAGNY Foundation, Past President of SAAGNY and a SAAGNY Hall of Fame member. He was cited by ASI as one of the 50 most influential people in the industry.
Used with permission from PromoCorner