As a writer, I know all about the importance of great hooks.
A good hook is imperative for holding your audience's attention, and ultimately convincing your audience that you're worth hearing out.
In sales, it's no different.
A good sales hook can prevent your prospect from hanging up the phone, or deleting your email entirely. And a great sales hook can start your entire conversation off on the right foot.
Here, we asked six sales reps their tips for creating a convincing sales hook to turn prospects into customers. But first … what is a sales hook?
(If you already know what a sales hook is, and how to create one, feel free to skip to the section where we highlight HubSpot sales reps' real-life examples.)
What is a sales hook?
A sales hook is the same thing as a sales pitch. Essentially, a sales hook (or pitch) is a condensed sales presentation that gets the conversation started regarding what your business is, as well as your product or services' main benefits.
A sales hook should be a quick, 1-2 minute rundown of how your product or service can help your prospect. A concise, persuasive sales hook opens the door to longer conversations down the line.
Also considered an 'elevator pitch', your sales hook can be delivered via email, over the phone, or in person. However, your strategy will need to shift depending on the platform you use to communicate with the prospect. An in-person hook sounds different than an email hook.
Next, let's explore how you can create a sales hook.
5 Tips for Creating a Sales Hook, According to HubSpot Sales Reps
1. Do your customer research.
To create a sales hook, you'll want to start by researching the customer — including their unique challenges, pain points, and needs.
HubSpot Sales Manager Alex Santangelo recommends speaking in the prospect's language.
"For instance," Santangelo says, "If you're speaking to a customer in the B2C e-commerce space, you don't want to use language that reflects a B2B buyer's typical goals — instead, you'll want to talk about how your product will help reduce customer acquisition costs (CAC) and increase customer lifetime value — concepts that are specifically top-of-mind for an e-commerce buyer."
Consider, for instance, what your prospects' goals are — and then work backwards. What potential challenges could inhibit your prospect from reaching their goals? What are they missing in their current strategy? How can you save them time or money?
Doing your research includes getting creative about figuring out your prospect's situation. For instance, let's say you're pitching a social media tool. For starters, you'll want to take a look at your prospect's existing social media content, and seek out areas for improvement. Then use this information to guide your hook.
In this example, a good hook might be: "I noticed your brand is active on LinkedIn and Facebook, but hasn't taken advantage of Instagram. A competitor I've worked with in your industry saw 37% audience growth and 12% increase in sales as a result of implementing a strong Instagram influencer strategy using our social media tool. Want to know more?"
Brian Pickett, a mid-market sales rep at HubSpot, agrees that conducting adequate research ahead of your hook is critical for success.
As Pickett puts it, "I often see new sales reps pitch a product before they have gathered enough information from the prospective buyer. My advice is to truly understand who you are speaking with, what metrics they care about, how things are done today, and where your product can help them specifically."
Pickett adds, "Once you have this information, it's important to craft your sales hook around the details they shared with you while using their language, not your own. A good sales hook is not one-size-fits-all but crafted around the prospect and their needs, goals, and desires."
2. Figure out the customer's pain points.
As any psychologist will tell you: The pain of losing is twice as powerful as the pleasure of gaining.
Which is why your hook doesn't need to focus on the benefits of your product or service. Instead, it should focus on your prospect's pain points — and how you can solve for them.
If you're unsure how to learn a customer's pain points, you're in luck — we've written a whole post about that.
A customer's pain points might include positioning pain points (i.e. "No one knows who our company is"), financial pain points ("Revenue is up, but profitability is low"), or process pain points ("Customer churn is high because our service department is inundated and can't keep up").
Figuring out your customer's biggest pain points is vital for creating a narrative in which your product or service becomes a necessity to your customer's success or long-term growth. Of course, you don't want to lie and pretend your product is a solution if it isn't one. If you identify a prospect's pain point and recognize your product isn't a good solution for their needs, that's a strong sign you'll want to move on and find prospects that are a better fit.
3. Ask a question as your sales hook.
Associate Inbound Growth Specialist Dan Taft recommends creating a hook that starts with a question.
"As someone who came from a restaurant background and jumped into this B2B sales world cold, something that helped me immensely was to put myself in the shoes of the person I am selling to — for instance, rather than using bland subject lines like 'HubSpot intro', I'd try something like 'growth strategy' or 'revenue targets 2022', to help connect with folks on topics they care about."
Additionally, Taft recommends making educated guesses on what your prospect's challenge might be, and then addressing that challenge through a question.
As an example, he says, "You could say something like, 'How many hours does it take you a week to create reports?' It's great when you get a response like, 'Way too long' back."
HubSpot Growth Specialist Jack Chascin also encourages reps to consider how they might tailor their hooks towards the prospect in a way that encourages a positive response.
"For instance," Chascin says, "if I'm targeting a manufacturing company I want to make sure I'm sharing relevant information that resonates with the pain points my solution can solve for in that industry."
Chascin says, "If I'm in the prospects shoes, I'd be a lot more apt to respond to someone who I believe has taken the time to try and understand me and my role than someone who is reaching out to me as just another prospect."
4. Practice active listening skills.
Giving an effective hook isn't about making a statement and walking away — instead, it's about spending more time listening to the prospect than you spend speaking.
Tori Rotermund, a Principal Account Executive at HubSpot, told me one tip she gives new sales reps is to ensure their sales hook lines up with what the prospect wants to accomplish — something you'll only figure out by listening.
As Rotermund puts it, "Active listening and asking the right questions are critical to understanding 1) if and how we can help, and 2) articulating it to the customer in a way that gets them excited and makes them feel confident in your solution."
Sales reps who practice active listening should focus on what the customer is actually saying, rather than waiting until they're done talking to launch into a pre-planned pitch. Active listening is a four-part process and requires you to listen, confirm you heard the customer correctly, ask relevant follow-up questions, and let the customer guide the conversation.
5. Make it personal and have some fun with it.
HubSpot Sales BDR Amber Brown-Hospedale told me she would encourage new reps to have fun with their sales hook.
Brown-Hospedale says, "This is your first impression in connecting with someone. Make it personal, but also have fun as if you were going out for coffee, or hanging out after work."
She adds, "There was one prospect I was reaching out to and I realized in addition to sales and marketing, her storytelling interests involved theatre, as well. So, I wrote: 'Is there a particular day this week or next that works best to put time on the calendar? If nothing else, as a former theatre major we can block some time off in your day to come up with our own soliloquies of the season? Hah!'"
Brown-Hospedale told me the prospect soon followed up, said "LOL", and booked time with her. Adding a personal touch shows the prospect you've done your research, and it will ideally also make them smile.
These prospects are people, after all, with a myriad of interests and hobbies outside of work — figure out how to connect with them on a personal level, and you'll find it easier to gain their trust and establish a strong relationship from the beginning.
If you're pressed for time, consider implementing a tool like Icebreaker, which sends you articles already curated by your own internal teams to effectively re-engage the prospect and elicit a response.
Additionally, equipping your sales reps with a tool like Co-Pilot, which curates personalized conversation starters related to local weather, local and company-specific headlines, or local holidays, could go a long way towards increasing the personalization of your outreach efforts.
Next, let's dive into three real-life examples, used by HubSpot sales reps to effectively land deals.
Effective Sales Hook Examples
1. The hook that highlights the sales rep's industry experience.
"Hey there, thanks for taking a moment to speak with me. A lot of companies I've been speaking to within your industry have been struggling to attract new customers, and have also had difficulty getting existing customers to renew. I'm curious if that's similar to what your experiencing?"
Why this works: This is an effective hook because it highlights the rep's experience with the prospect's specific industry — something that immediately signifies the rep's ability to help solve for the prospects' unique challenges. It also ends with a question that will enable the prospect to speak about his or her challenges, which will help the rep tailor their approach.
2. The hook that demonstrates gaps in the prospect's current internal processes.
"Company prides itself on offering omni-channel growth software that improves service levels and reduces operational costs. Do you feel you inherited a growth platform that does the same for you?"
Why this works: The first line — "Company prides itself on offering omni-channel growth software that improves service levels and reduces operational costs" — was copy-and-pasted from the front page of the company's website, and used to highlight the irony that the company touted certain product benefits to their customers, but didn't receive the same benefits from their own internal software. This hook works because it proves the sales rep has done their research on the prospect and feels well-equipped to point out any gaps in their current strategy.
3. The hook that identifies the prospect's pain points.
"Hey [name]. I hope that you and your family are safe, healthy and well during these unprecedented times.
I wanted to reach out with a short video to outline some reasons [my product] could be a strong fit for your team. [My product] can consolidate all the different solutions you're using (for instance, I saw you're using [product A] for marketing and [product B] for social media management). By consolidating all that into one suite, you'll have a 360 degree view of all your contacts and customers in a central database.
You'll then be able to take all that information and leverage it for more effective and targeted ad campaigns.
If this is timely for you, happy to have a conversation about other ways [my product] can help you increase conversions and decrease customer churn. If not, happy to be a resource for you in the future."
Why this works: This is an effective hook because the sales rep took the time to identify the prospect's pain points — namely, having a messy system with various products that don't necessarily fit together seamlessly. Focus on how your product or service can make your prospect's life easier, and you'll have an effective hook.
Ultimately, learning how to create effective hooks is a matter of trial and error. As you test out new hooks, take note of which ones prove most effective for continuing the conversation with prospects. Using these tips and examples as inspiration, you're well on your way to creating strong hooks that attract new customers for the long-haul.