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Cold calling isn’t dead.
If you’re here reading this, you already know that. But it’s still a tough gig. Cold callers have gained a bad reputation over the years, which makes it even more important to know what works! You can’t randomly call anyone and sell your product or service to them anymore.
Today, you look at data, choose prospects accordingly, and call them at a decent hour. But in spite of all the research, people still won’t answer calls, decline meetings, or even hang up on you. So, what makes for a great cold call? It’s those first 20-30 seconds. If you get their attention then, they might stay and listen to you for longer or at least agree to a meeting for later.
You also have to keep in mind that yours is not the first cold call they’ve attended. Take a look at the following example of a cold call opening line script.
Cold Caller: “Hi, is this Antony?”
Prospect: “Yes, this is Antony. How may I help you?”
Cold Caller: “Hi Antony, this is Taylor from XXX company. We’re a software company that aims to work with companies like yours to streamline their sales. So far, our customers have achieved a 30 percent success in their outbound sales. Would you be willing to answer a few questions on your current outbound sales numbers and your process in general? I guarantee you that I will provide you an affordable solution… ”
Prospect: **Hangs up!**
Why did that happen? Simply because the cold caller had no empathy whatsoever. Imagine someone just randomly calls you and goes on and on about some company you’ve never even heard of before. You’d want to just say ‘bye’ immediately!
The best cold calling methods include establishing a connection with your prospect, showing empathy that they might be busy, asking them for permission to continue with the call, and then starting your pitch.
Flyn Penoyer, Inside Sales Trainer and Strategist at Penoyer Communications says, “Before you start your “sales call”, it is critically important that you have the prospect in communication with you. He or she must be “interested in talking.”
This is where the need for a good cold call opening lines arises. And that’s why you’re here! So let’s get started. In this article, we’ll be talking about some of the best cold call opening lines you can use with your prospects. We’ll also be covering openers that you should stay away from so that you don’t scare your prospects away.
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1. “I hope I’m not catching you at a bad time!”
This is one of the best cold call opening lines that SDRs swear by. You can use variations of it too - “I hope I’m catching you at a good time!”. The idea is to keep it positive and get a conversation with them! If you do, you’re one of the lucky few. Once you get the green light, the ball’s in your court. And they won’t be able to bail out even if they don’t want to listen to you.
But chances are that they’re busy or just getting into a meeting, because let’s face it, they usually are! So, how do you continue the conversation if they’re in a hurry to hang up the phone? Take a look at the cold call script below.
Cold Caller: “Hey Catherine, this is Nick calling from ABC Company. I hope I’m not catching you at a bad time!”
Prospect: “Hey Nick! Actually, I was just about to get into a meeting. Could we talk later?”
Cold Caller: “Absolutely. But I just need 30 seconds to tell you all about how (value proposition pitch about what they need). Is that something you’ll be interested in?”
And then a brief conversation ensues. Of course, even the best cold calling tips might not get you a meeting, but this one’s a hit with most SDRs and sales folks, so it should be on your list!
“Hey Catherine, this is Nick calling from ABC Company. Do you have a minute?”
It’s time you accept that they’re never going to have time for you. So, don’t use a line that gives them an opening to say no to you. Plus, it’s always more than a minute, isn’t it? Unless you’re one of those super humans who’ve nailed their pitch to 30 seconds.
2. “I’m sure you’re in the middle of something.”
When you cold call a prospect, you’re a stranger who is interrupting their day. That’s not news to you, right? But that’s why this makes a great cold call opener! When you start with this, not only do you show that you’re considerate, you also acknowledge that they’re busy. It’s all about empathy. You’re not barging in!
Here’s how this cold call might go:
Cold Caller: “Hey Paul! It’s Ankit from ABC Company. I’m sure you’re in the middle of something.” **Pause**
Prospect: “Well, yes. I have a meeting in about 5 minutes from now.”
Cold Caller: “Got it! I just need half a minute to talk about….”
You see that pause? That’s very important when it comes to cold calling. It gives the prospect time to ease down and respond to you. Cold calling is all about how you say it.
“Hey Paul! It’s Ankit from ABC Company. I’m sorry if I’m catching you out of the blue here. I just need a minute.”
What’s wrong here? Apologizing. Doing that right at the beginning of a cold call makes you sound unimportant. Your time is as important as theirs. Instead use this variation, “Hey Paul! It’s Ankit from ABC Company. I know I’m catching you out of the blue. But I just need a minute!”. That has a better ring to it, don’t you think?
3. “I was hoping you could help me for a moment?”
Getting people’s time is more difficult than receiving help from them. When you ask your prospect to help, they’ll most likely say yes. At least most humans have a biological urge to do so. Why? Well, because it makes them feel good about themselves!
And that’s why this is one of the best cold call opening lines. The psychology behind this really works! Take a look at how you can use this line:
Cold Caller: “Hi Anita. This is Anna from ABC Company. I was hoping you could help me for a moment?”
At this point, they’re curious about who you are and what you have to say. That’s why they’re most likely to say, “Yes, sure. Tell me!”. And that’s your in! They’re all ready to listen to you.
So, your next move is to thank them and explain the reason for your cold call. Here is how that’ll go.
Cold Caller: “Thank you! I really appreciate this. **Pause** Yeah, so listen. The reason I’m calling is…”
Why the ‘so listen’? The best cold calling tips will tell you to use words that are subtle commands. This will clear their head and make them hear you out.
“Hi Anita. This is Anna from ABC Company. Do you think you can help me with XYZ?”
Now, this leaves them with an opening to say no because you’ve already explained why you’re calling. That’s why, if you look at some of the best cold call opening lines, they’ll have shorter sentences and pauses at the right places.
Instead, you can say what Morgan J Ingram, Director of Sales Execution and Evolution, JBarrows Sales Training, says - “Hi Anita. This is Morgan from JBarrows. Thank you for taking my call.”. And then you pause!
4. “Hey, how are you?"
What makes a great cold call? A warm and considerate greeting. This has been used by sales people all over! It brings a sense of familiarity to your conversation and makes the prospect feel at ease. Plus most people are likely to listen to your pitch when they know you. This is the first step towards that.
It also establishes you in charge of the phone conversation. Here is what the cold call can go like:
Cold Caller: “Hi Jennifer. I’m Rohit calling from ABC company. How are you?” **Pause**
Prospect: “I’m good. Having a long day! How are you?”
Cold Caller: “Same here! I’m good too. So listen, I’m calling to…”
And then you dive right into it. You can use so many other variations for this cold call opener. “How are you doing?”, “How have you been?”, “How is it going?”, and more. Anything that’ll warm up your cold call!
“Hi Jennifer. I’m Rohit calling from ABC company. Hope you’re having a great week!”
Everyone has long working days. This won’t go down well as a cold call opening line with someone who’s having a bad day. Stick to using the earlier mentioned variations because it’s more considerate. This gives your prospect the space they need to respond to you, so they won’t be hostile.
5. “Hi, we’ve never spoken before."
Really? This cold call line works? Well, yes! It may seem like an unconventional way to start a conversation, but this really is one of the best cold call opening lines. But why would a prospect respond to someone they’ve never spoken to before? Simply because they’re curious! Wouldn’t you be too?
Many sales folks swear by this because it gets people to talk. Here’s what this conversation would sound like:
Cold Caller: “Hi Amy. This is Jonathan from ABC Company. We’ve never spoken before.” **Pause**
Prospect: “Hey Jonathan, tell me?”
Cold Caller: “So listen, the reason I’m calling… Is this something you’d be interested in?”
It’s unusual and unexpected but it gets you the response you’re looking for and that’s what counts! The pause here makes them think and ask you why you’re calling. That’s all you need to make your pitch because now they’re invested in this.
“Hi Amy. This is Jonathan from ABC Company. We’ve never spoken before but I want to tell you about our product...”
Why not? Well for one, because you didn’t ask them for permission to talk about it. And two, you don’t leave them with any time to process that they’ve just gotten a call from a random stranger. It’s just not considerate enough and they might hang up on you!
You can try this instead as another variation:
“Hi, Amy. This is Jonathan from ABC Company. We don’t know each other.”
This should get you a similar response from the prospect. After all, we humans are a cautious kind.
Best Practices for Cold Call Opening Lines
The best cold call opening lines are simple and considerate. But it definitely isn’t enough. Cold calling is more than just what you say. What do you do if someone says ‘no, thanks’ in the first five seconds of the conversation? We don’t want that to happen now, do we?
That’s why knowing how to begin your cold call is very crucial. And here we’re talking about the tone, the time, and the research! These are what keeps your prospect on the other end of the line. Read on to know more about the best cold calling practices you should use!
1. Names hold power
First names have a way of making conversations friendly. When you use your entire name or just your last name, it makes the conversation formal.
You lose out on a sense of personalization and familiarity. Introduce yourself with your first name, which is usually easier to pronounce and remember. They’ll want to discuss further simply because they’ll feel like they know you.
At the same time, using the prospect’s first name grabs their attention, so they’ll listen to you. Bonus tip - Practice the right pronunciation of your prospect’s name. You really don’t want to get that wrong. If you’re unsure, ask them ‘Am I saying it right?’, so that they don’t take offense. Always better to be sure!
2. Tonality is key
Sometimes even the best cold call opening lines won’t give you a positive response, so the best you can do is have a better second line and a brief pitch to pique their interest. You also have to keep in mind your tonality!
Talk to your prospect like you might talk to a new friend you made at a party. If you sound like you’re reading a script, they’re very likely to hang up on you. Focus on being empathetic and approachable.
3. International calls get picked
Here’s something you can do even before making that cold call - get an international number. If you get a call right now from an unknown number from abroad, chances are that you’ll actually pick up. Simply because you’re curious! They will be too. So, get an international number now!
4. The shorter, the better
This goes without saying, no? Most human beings can instantly recognize cold calls. The first response is to hang up in a hurry or say, “I’m not interested.” That’s why keeping it brief is one of the best cold-calling techniques.
Make your pitch to the point, and speak calmly and clearly, before your prospect runs out of patience. Repeat after us: Keep. It. To. The. Point.
5. Competition is always interesting
No, we’re not telling you to take advantage of your prospect’s rivalry with their competition. But we kind of are! Most rival organizations face similar problems, so it’s highly likely that your prospect is having the same issue that their rival did or does. Bringing this up subtly into the conversation, especially if you’ve worked with their competition, can prove to be a game-changer!
Cold Caller: “Hey Sarah, this is Aamir from ABC Company. How are you?” **Pause**
Prospect: “I’m good. Having a long day! How are you?”
Cold Caller: “I’m good too! I was just going through your company’s LinkedIn and was wondering if you guys are using anything to solve the XYZ problem? I bring this up because I’ve worked with ‘competitor company’, and they were facing this too till very recently…”
This is bound to pique their interest immediately and they’ll want to know if you have a solution for the mentioned issue. It’s all about how subtle you can be!
6. Scripts make good backups
Some of the best cold calling scripts can fail you but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one. It’s a smart move to have one ready just in case you go blank.
Objection handling is important so make sure you consider the rebuttals your prospect might throw at you. If they have a question, you should have an answer ready.
7. Social studying is necessary
What makes a great cold call today? Personalization. And that comes from your research on the prospect’s company, their needs, and a little bit of social media information.
“I noticed on your LinkedIn company page that one of your big projects this year is…” That’ll get them talking immediately. So, you’re not just selling your product. You’re showing interest in what they want. That’s a win-win situation right there.
Master the Top Cold Call Opening Lines for Guaranteed Success!
Of course, there are many other best cold call opening lines, but these are tried and tested! So, use them and let us know how it goes. If you have a fun cold calling story, feel free to tell us that too. We’re all ears! In the meantime, share this blog with other cold callers that you know. You never know which line might close you a deal!
PS: If cold calls are your thing, check out Call of Fame by Outplay - a real-life cold call playlist that has recordings from some of the best sales folks in the SaaS industry. New episodes are released every Wednesday. Happy listening!
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