Do you struggle to find a really good, engaging opening line for a cold call? Does every cold call recommendation you see online seem over-the-top gimmicky? Have you ever thought one up, just to completely fumble your words and go back to your trusted (and extremely boring) “Hi, this is _____ calling from ____, do you have a moment?”
I spent an entire day trying the craziest opening lines for cold calls, and this is what actually worked. And, for your entertainment, I also included what really, really didn’t work.
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1. Overly Excited
“Happy Monday!” or whatever day of the week it is.
The Theory: It’s a nice change of pace to hear someone on the phone who isn’t miserable. So, if you seem excited about the day, it’ll be contagious, and other people will be excited with you. Then, they’ll be more engaged with your pitch.
In Practice: People HATED this. I mean, straight up hated it. I even had one guy who used to work in sales tell me that this was the most childish approach to cold calling he’d ever seen. He told me that if I were on his sales team, I’d no longer have a job. Harsh, but fair I guess.
2. The Switch-Up
“How is your day going today?”
The Theory: This is supposed to be a nice break from the typical “How are you?” It seems a bit more personal, and people are more likely to like you, meaning they’ll entertain your pitch for a bit.
In Practice: This is exactly the same as asking “How are you?” I was skeptical that it would actually elicit a different response, and rightfully so. People could sense from the very start that this was going to be the typical cold call that they weren’t interested in hearing at all. I got the, “Sorry Adam, I just don’t have time for this” on pretty much every call I tried making.
3. Being Considerate
“Did I catch you at a bad time?”
The Theory: The idea behind this is that you are acknowledging that they are busy, and that you are considerate of their time. And, if they say yes, it is a bad time, it gives you the opportunity to go into a quick version of your pitch. That way, you aren’t wasting anyone’s time, and you can follow-up if it does seem like a good fit.
In Practice: This did not go as planned most of the time. When you ask if you caught someone at a bad time, they say yes, and you continue to pitch your product, they are likely to get a little pissed off. Or, start cursing you out using phrases you’ve never even heard of. Which happened. Twice.
4. Stroking Their Ego
“I was hoping you could help me with something.”
The Theory: One fact of life is that people love to feel important. We are all a bit narcissistic. So, if you ask someone for help, they’re going to want to do so. Especially if they think they’re the only man or woman for the job.
In Practice: This was one of the good ones! People were much more willing to engage with me if they felt like they were helping and contributing to something. I’d highly recommend this, and even maybe add “I’m so glad I reached you.”
5. Just Catching Up
“How have you been?”
The Theory: Make your prospect feel like an old friend- even if you’ve never met them before. Most people aim to be fairly polite, and if they think they know you somehow they’ll likely listen to what you have to say (before realizing you’re a complete stranger).
In Practice: Almost everyone I called with this line picked up on the fact that they had no idea who I was the second they picked up the phone. In general, people don’t enjoy being deceived.
6. Sound Check
“Hi, can you hear me ok?”
The Theory: This will get your prospect to listen, even if they normally wouldn’t think to engage with a cold caller. Plus, they are likely to get caught off-guard and be more inclined to actually talk to you since they won’t be immediately on the defensive.
In Practice: This was the most mixed-results strategy. Virtually everyone answered the question as planned, but quite a few hung up immediately after the second line about who I was. I have hope for this one, and would love to test-run it a few more times to truly get it down.
7. The Honest Approach
“Hi, we’ve never spoken before.”
In Theory: This may seem like a crazy way to start a conversation. Why would anyone want to talk to some random dude they have never spoken to before? But, you really are starting yourself off on the right foot with this opening line. After all, prospect relationships are built on trust, and if you can establish that early on, you’ll be golden.
In Practice: It was like this opening line was sent to me straight from the sales gods themselves. About 90% of the people I called that actually picked up were more than willing to have a conversation with me following this line. Several even told me the line was genius, and a complete breath of fresh air.
By far, the honest approach obliterated the other 6 opening lines. I truly could not believe the response rate I was getting. I am definitely going to have my reps start using this line with each and every cold call they make.