If you fail to engage the customer, and develop trust, in the first five minutes of the sales conversation, the call will be a bust.

You must accomplish three milestones in the first five minutes

  1. Get the customer engaged in the conversation
  • You don’t engage the customer by talking
  • You engage the customer by getting them to talk about what is important to them
  • When the customer is engaged they are open to sharing information with you and considering what they might need to change
  • When you are talking, customers are bored because you are talking about you and customers want to talk about themselves.

Seek first to understand then to be understood.”
Saint Francis of Assisi

  1. Establish the conversation around business needs not product needs
  • You control where the conversation goes by the questions you ask
  • If the conversation is about product needs the sale will be about who has the minimum acceptable product at the lowest price
  • If the conversation is about the customer’s business – challenges they face and where they want to take their business – you have the opportunity to demonstrate how your solution will help the customer be successful
  • “Seek first to understand then to be understood.” St. Francis of Assisi


  1. Begin to build trust
  • Stephen Covey says that trust is the outcome of demonstrating character and competency. How do you do that in five minutes?
  • You don’t – but you can increase or decrease trust in the first 5 minutes
  • Focusing the conversation on the customer’s needs rather than your product demonstrates you care about what is important to them (Character)
  • Asking intelligent questions about their business – not about their need for your product – demonstrates that you know their business and marketplace (Competence)


How do you do it?

Start the call with a PIB

  • Purpose-Invitation-Benefit
  • State the business Purpose for the meeting
  • Invite the customer to share their thoughts with you before you present your information
  • Explain the Benefit of them speaking first



Purpose – “I have the information you asked me to bring.”

Invitation – “Before I go over it with you, can you share with me what prompted you to look for a way to automate this process?”

Benefit of them talking first – “That way I can focus on the information that will be most helpful to you.”


  • Make your invitation question broadly open to start a great conversation
  • Remember to provide the benefit of the customer talking first. They expect you to do the talking and have to see value to themselves before they will open up and share with you.


This is not a sales technique.  It is what anyone must do before they can help someone else.  If this isn’t your goal, this approach isn’t for you.