Quiz: What's the Best Icebreaker?

Last Updated Sep 28, 2009 4:58 PM EDT

Scenario: You've just started an on-site sales call with a C-level customer executive. The handshake and greeting was cordial enough, but as you sit down, you sense a certain coldness. It's crucially important that you establish rapport with this decision-maker. Failure means you'll miss your quarterly quota. You need to break the ice, fast. Here are your options:
  • Comment on a knickknack. Notice what's prominently displayed in his office -- a family photo, a souvenir -- and make a thoughtful, respectful remark about it.
  • Ask him about his career. Most people like talking about themselves, so inquiring about something in the executive's past experience will definitely warm him up.
  • Mention a shared cultural event. You know that he follows local the sports teams. Talking about the big win (or bemoaning the big loss) shows that you're on his team.
  • Jump into the sales call. He's probably a cold fish who doesn't want you wasting his time. The best way to get him on your side is to get to the point as quickly as possible.

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