Cold calling is an essential sales technique that requires a great deal of skill and finesse to master. The first few seconds of a cold call are crucial because they determine whether or not you'll be able to deliver your pitch at all.
In this article, we'll share some tips on how to create an effective cold call opening line and provide you with seven examples of proven opening lines.
Tips for crafting a great cold call opening line:
Get to the point:
The best cold call opening lines are short and sweet. Avoid wasting your prospect's time with a lengthy introduction or small talk.
Don't ask for permission:
Instead of asking if it's a good time to talk, assume that your prospect is available and jump straight into your pitch. This approach helps you maintain control of the conversation.
Be friendly and personable:
Show that you care about your prospect as an individual, not just as a potential customer. Use their name and try to connect with them on a personal level.
Here are seven cold call opening lines that have proven to be effective:
Mention the weather:
How’s that for a quintessentially British icebreaker? EngageTech SDR James Davies believes this opening line works because it’s so familiar. This opener naturally leads to further conversation and jokes that can quickly build rapport. This opener won’t work all the time, but give it a try the next time it’s gorgeous out or absolutely chucking it down.
Talking about the weather can be an excellent icebreaker, especially in the UK. It's a topic that everyone can relate to and can quickly lead to further conversation and rapport-building.
The early bird
If you’re calling prospects outside of traditional work hours, this opener is a great way to quickly find out whether prospects are free to chat without asking their permission. Acknowledge that you are calling early and say you hope they haven’t caught them in the middle of breakfast. This is much better than asking them something general like whether you’ve caught them at a bad time. The chances are also slim that you have actually caught them eating breakfast, so you don’t have to worry about getting rejected.
Holidays provide year-round talking points for our SDRs. From December through to January you have Christmas. March and April give you Easter and the summer months are perfect for asking about upcoming holidays. Each provides specific jumping-off points that you can use to get a conversation going. Asking about their holiday plans is also a great way to put your prospect in a good mood, get them talking and prove that you aren’t just there to give your pitch and leave.
Out yourself immediately
Greg Freeman, VP of sales at Minoro Data, likes to out himself as a cold caller as quickly as possible. He’ll make a joke about how he doesn’t like making them and the prospect doesn’t like giving them, but together they’ll get through it. In doing so, Greg catches prospects off guard and instantly lightens the mood. He has found that prospects are much more willing to hear him out when he’s friendly, funny and upfront about who he is and what he’s doing. Use this tactic and you’ll come across as a breath of fresh air in an industry where salespeople are notorious for using every trick in the book to get through to prospects and get them to listen.
Stroke their ego
Everyone likes to feel powerful. We’re all a little bit narcissistic. Play on that by asking your prospect for help before asking anything else. Typically, cold callers are the ones trying to help their prospects by pitching new solutions. Flipping the script in this way puts all the power in the hands of your prospect. More often than not, they’ll be glad to help.
So what do you ask them for help with? Well, if it’s a gatekeeper, you can ask for help getting through to your prospect. If it’s the prospect themselves, ask for advice on a topic or question them about an article they’ve recently written.
Finding something you have in common with your prospect is a great way to start a conversation and get the relationship off on the right foot. When you can personalise your interaction, you demonstrate that your prospect isn’t just a name and number to you. It also shows you’ve bothered to do your research and might not be running through a call list from top to bottom (even if you are).
Prospects like working with people they have some connection to, says Autoklose founder and CEO Shawn Finder. If you share a connection on Linkedin, went to the same university or grew up in the same area, brilliant. Even if you don’t share something this personal, you may still be able to mention an article your prospect has written online or a post they made on Linkedin.
You don’t have to go overboard. Even subtle personalisation like making it clear you know who they are, where they work and what they do can be enough. You called them for a reason, demonstrate why.
How have you been?
Want to know what statistically is the best cold call opening line of them all? According to Gong and their dataset of over 90,000 calls, it’s “how have you been?”
Gong’s Chris Orlob explains that asking people “how they have been” has a 6.6 times higher success rate than the baseline and that calls that opened with this question had a 10% success rate compared to the 1.5% baseline.
Orlob believes it works because it’s “a pattern interrupt”. Prospects don’t expect their cold caller to ask them how they are doing. It also ticks all the right boxes we mentioned at the start. It’s friendly, it’s short and it doesn’t ask for permission. Give it a go next time your on the phone and see if the data really does match reality.
In summary, a great cold call opening line is short, to the point, and friendly. It should capture your prospect's attention and create a relaxed, engaging atmosphere. Try out these seven proven opening lines during your next cold calling session, and see which ones work best for you.