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How To Kill Your Cold Call With Your Opening Words

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Marketing Director

Why does making a cold call feel so much like asking a person out on a date for the first time? It’s the same nervousness that comes with the gravity of what you’re about to ask, the same fear of rejection, and the same doubt about whether your opening words are going to spell doom or success for your chances of this relationship working out.

Let’s help you with those opening lines.

Don’t take what we’re about to advise as the absolute best, fail-safe strategy that could ever be devised. This advice comes from industry experts, but few opening lines will get a thumbs up for every single veteran cold caller out there. 

In other words, spend some time pondering these suggestions. Then test out the ones that make the most sense based on your own experiences.

Don’t start with ‘How are you doing today?’

Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes. 

“How are you doing today?” is a perfectly natural thing to hear from someone you know, but when a stranger asks you that over the phone, it can instantly clue you into knowing you’re talking to a salesperson. Why? Because you’ve heard it too many times from the mouths of unfamiliar people.

Avoid tired, old-school sales openers

The cynicism of prospects is ever-evolving. Even a fantastic line fed to you by a successful salesperson at a motivational talk back in 2007 will eventually come out of the mouths of too many cold callers before you, ruining it for a generation. 

Always be on the quest for new openers to replace the ones you’ve gotten a little too reliant on.

Avoid opening with ‘I know you’re busy’

You want to empathize with your prospect, and you know they’re busy, so what’s the harm in acknowledging it? 

It’s unnecessary. Everyone is busy, and sounding apologetic for calling them diminishes the gravity of who you are and what you have to offer. 

Of course they’re busy. They’re going-out-of-their-minds busy, and you’re interrupting their day. But, it’s important that you’re doing so because you’re offering them something that will make their overstretched lives a little less hectic. In fact, your goal in the end is to make them glad you interrupted their day.

Avoid saying ‘I’ve been calling people in your area’

You know what you’re telling prospects when you open with: “I’ve been calling people in your area”? 

You’re telling them they’re not special. They’re just a name on a list. Your prospect wants to feel like they’re the only person you called that day.

Also avoid the similar phrase: “I was just going through my records…”

Avoid opening with ‘I’m not going to try to sell you anything today’

Don’t try to assure your prospect with the opening line, “I’m not going to try to sell you anything today.”

First, it’s dishonest, and that’s a bad way to start off a potential long-term relationship. Plus, even if you’re simply trying to get them to book an appointment, you’re still selling them that appointment.

Second, it’s not believable. It’s about as reassuring as a nurse coming at you with a 6-inch needle and insisting, “You won’t feel a thing.”

Avoid asking ‘Do you have a minute?’

In general, try to stay away from asking prospects, “Do you have a minute?” They may have taken a moment to answer their phone, but they could already be regretting doing so. They don’t have a minute. You don’t have a minute. You’ve got to pique their interest within seconds.

Consider not asking the prospect if they saw the email you sent

If you sent your prospect a cold email first (that they haven’t replied to), it may be tempting to ask them during a cold call if they saw your email. It’s not a terrible thing to do. Your email — if they read it — may have warmed them up.

The danger in relying on that line, though, is that it puts you in the mindset of depending on that email to make the sale rather than relying on your cold call — at this very moment — to make the sale. 

No matter how much that email may have warmed the prospect up, if they haven’t booked an appointment yet, you still need to work as hard on this cold call as any other one.

Avoid immediately telling your prospect how you’re going to solve their problems

You know your prospect has problems to solve. They know they have problems to solve. Why not cut to the chase and open with that?

Because pointing out someone’s problems the moment you meet them puts them on the defensive. Most people are willing to listen, but you have to gain their respect first. Do that first on the call, then address the issues.

Avoid talking like a salesperson

This one is really hard. It’s like telling a celebrity to act like a nobody when they’re walking down the red carpet.

Instead, envision yourself as a doctor who is there to help the patient diagnose and solve a problem. Study how a good, caring doctor talks and take on that persona for yourself.

Never ask upfront, ‘Are you the decision maker?’

The moment you get a voice on the other end of the phone, it’s helpful to know if you’ve reached the boss or their gatekeeper. But it’s important to never ask someone upfront if they are the decision maker.

Why? Because, according to industry experts, 90% of people will say “yes” because it makes them feel better to be thought of as a decision maker. Or they know you’re a salesperson, and they’re crafty enough to be using you to get a price quote that they can leverage with a competitor.

Treat every person with the respect you would give a decision maker, and you’ll find out soon enough if you’ve reached the right person or if they’re going to pass you up the line.

Do you want to learn more cold calling strategies? Or would you rather hire a team of experts to do it for you? Visit to learn more.

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