For those who make frequent sales calls, it can be hard to stay creative--especially if you make dozens of calls per day. You might fall into the habit of making the same opening remarks, such as explaining who you are and what your company does. Bad idea. Break out of the rut by using one of these more creative approaches.

1. Repeat the customer's name as a question.

I'm convinced the best salespeople who make frequent calls have a way of adding emphasis when they speak so that the person answering the phone listens more intently. One example? Dana Abramson, the president of Achieve Results Training, told me how she tends to state the name of the person she is calling as a question, and I can imagine she's raising her voice a little (in a good way) to accent her introduction. It's easy to forget this quick step. "You're accomplishing two things," she says. "You're verifying that you're speaking to the correct person, and most importantly, you are appealing to their ego. We all like to hear our name spoken. It makes us feel important."

2. Comment about the state.

I love the idea Brandon Howard at Toner Emporium sent me. He makes frequent calls, and he usually looks up the state for the person he's calling first. He says he might ask, if he calls Florida, about how things are going down in paradise. I can imagine a few other tricks, like commenting about how the Gophers are doing if you call someone in Minnesota. I've had people call and ask me about the cold weather in my area. It tells me they at least looked up the address in my signature line before making the "cold" call.

3. Ask a very direct question.

Time is precious, so make the most of it. Ben Yennie, the vice president of sales at Taal, an app that helps with the hiring process, told me he tends to ask a direct question when he first starts a call as a way to direct the conversation. To me, that helps the person you are calling know you mean business and won't waste time with idle chitchat. "For us, the pain point is taking some of the strain out of the hiring process," he says. "I ask if often they know within the first two minutes of an interview if the client would be a fit. Most times it's pretty often, and they're interested and want to find out more."