The Art of Selling: The "ICR"
I was in sales for over 30 years. Today I am semi-retired and have found that writing articles like these is a great way to educate the public. I learned many tricks of the trade during those three decades and will try to pass on some over the course of several of these articles. The first deals with the very beginning of the sales approach. Assuming you’ve made an appointment to see the customer or are about to try to make a sale over the phone, you should start with an ICR, or “interest-generating observation.”
It’s the first thing you say after introducing yourself and your company. Often, it sets the mood for the entire structure of the sales call. Depending on what you are selling, the ICR can be very powerful. The following is a short list of typical ICRs that I and others have used quite effectively in the past:
- How would you like to save a lot of money today?
- I have an amazing new product to show you that could change your life.
- Do you know what most business owners neglect?
- What if I told you that today I have nothing to sell you?
- There is a secret marketing tool that only a few companies understand.
- Can you spare five minutes to win $10,000?
- I realized that your company is giving your biggest competitor an unfair advantage.
- Do you know where you are wasting money the fastest?
- I have something free to give you that you are probably paying for right now.
- Do you know which of your employees is costing you the most?
- I investigated your business and made a disturbing discovery.
- I have a way to prevent one of your biggest losses from happening.
- In fact, I’ll pay you for just one minute of your time.
- I just had an experience with a similar company that I would like to share.
- What is your biggest complaint about people like me?
- I heard from your accountant that you hate saving money. It is true?
- Would you rather go out of business this year or next?
That gives you a general idea of what the ICR does. It makes the person on the receiving end think and allows the sale to continue. It’s much better than saying, “I have something to sell you, are you listening?”
He was responsible for some pretty good sales in my time. It pays off especially when you’ve been delegated to an assistant or second-in-command. When that happened, he would casually comment, “It’s too bad you’re the one to break the bad news to your boss.” Now that statement would always get his attention. Of course they would want to know more. But he would say that he needed to talk to the decision maker in person because of the importance of the message or something.
The ICR is designed to promote the call and move towards a positive outcome. If you’re in sales, it should be the opening salvo of every call. And yes, feel free to use any of the ones I have listed.