Top 6 Effective Opening Lines for Cold Calls

By: Kathy Enriquez-Nguyen
March 5, 2024

Openers can either have doors open or doors slammed on your face. It’s the initial statement or question you use to start a conversation with a prospect you haven’t met before. It acts as your first impression and also sets the tone for the call.

Let’s be real though, there’s no such thing as a perfect opener. But we do have a top 6 that we love to use and want to share with you! Before we start, we want to be clear that it is about finding what works best for you. Remember, how you say things is more important than knowing a bajillion openers. It’s like a comedian telling a joke, the punchline matters, but the delivery is what gets the laughs. So go ahead and pick one of ours to start practicing!

#6. Be Upfront

Prospects get pitch-slapped all the time. They get bombarded by cold outreaches all day long so the last thing they want is you coming in with another pitch. So how do you break away from that? Easy, by being honest! People like honesty and it will set you apart from the crowd.

You can straight up tell them it’s a cold call and ask if they have a minute. If they do, show you respect their time as well by saying what you have to say in a minute. Just like if you were to walk into a party and admit you weren’t invited but you did bring the best snacks!

Hi [Kate], my name is [Michael], and this is actually a cold call. Would you give me a minute? I promise to be brief.

#5. Ask How They’re Doing

A recent study conducted by Gong shows how you can increase your chance of success by 10% when starting your call with a "Hey, how have you been?". This can make the call feel less like a sales pitch and more like a chat between pals. As for us, we prefer the normal, very casual tone of "How are you?" or "What's going on?" because, yes, with ‘how have you been,’ you might grab their attention faster, but you can lose their trust just as quickly when they figure out you were pretending that you knew each other from before. But give both a shot and see which works best for you!

The key thing to remember when asking this is to be human, have fun and watch your tone. Don’t sound like a drone, say it how you would to a friend. Sure, you may get the “I’m busy” brush off, but sometimes you can get a great conversation started. Just be genuine!

Hey [Dave], how are you doing today?

#4. Mention Their Competitors

When it comes to competition, whether it be sports or games, it’s the same with business, nobody likes coming in second. Keep in mind that this approach isn’t about spreading gossip or making anyone look bad, it’s about showing that you understand their market.

You can mention what their competitors are up to and how you have the solution to help them achieve the same. Unless they already figured out the solution and are working on it, it will potentially pique their interest.

Hey [Alex], this is [Michael] with [SellMeThisPen]. I noticed your competitor X is achieving X, Y and Z, and I wanted to share some ideas with you and help you achieve the same. Would you like to have a quick conversation around this, or you prefer to hang up? Either way, I respect your decision.

#3. Say They Don’t Know You

Honesty is refreshing! Especially nowadays, where everyone is being inundated with ads and people trying to sell them something. It just works better if you are transparent with your prospects and straight up say they don’t know you. It also gets their attention by using an interesting and different approach. Plus, you may give them enough of a reason to trust you to have a quick conversation.  

Think of it this way, if you were on the other side, how would you want to be treated if someone called you out of the blue? Perhaps with honesty, right? Just like everything else in life, treat others how you want to be treated.

Hey [Anna], this is [Michael] from [SellMeThisPen], and we've never chatted before. The reason for my call is I wanted to share an unusual but effective idea that might potentially help your team save a lot of time on onboarding. Feel free to say no, but does this sound interesting to you at all?

#2. Give a Compliment

In a world where everyone is too busy to pay attention to others, giving a compliment can go a long way and even light up their day. As for cold calling, it shows that you care enough to do some research and that you’re not just another cold caller. Keep in mind that you don’t need to do a massive amount of research before the call because let’s be honest here, connect rates are really low these days. Some of your prospects won’t even pick up the phone. But for those targeted prospects, a little bit of homework can make a difference.

After introducing yourself, you can start with “I saw your recent post about individual sales coaching and I really loved it!”. Feel free to elaborate some more as to why you love it, and how it can benefit you, then pause and SAY NOTHING ELSE. Do not pitch and let your prospect speak. Typically, they’ll end up asking who it is you are again, this is your chance to jump into why you’re calling. Whether or not you succeeded, you still made someone’s day with your compliment.

Hi [Dave], my name is [Michael], and I've been following you on LinkedIn for quite some time now. I saw your recent post about [individual sales coaching], and I really loved it. The reason I'm saying this is that, as a seller myself, I know nothing can help me more than getting coached on areas of improvement.

#1. Ask for 30 Seconds

Last but not least, here is our absolute favorite opener to use, ask for 30 seconds. Let’s face it, time is precious, it’s something that we can never get back once it’s gone. So, why not just be direct? “Would you give me 30 seconds to tell you why I called you or do you prefer to hang up?” is a great way to acknowledge you value your prospect’s time. You may hear others suggest using odd numbers like 27 or 35 seconds for attention. We think this should not matter, just pick a number that works for you or that you like and stick with it.

30 seconds isn’t a lot of time for someone to spare, it’s a small request that is doable. Kind of like asking someone to hold the elevator for you, it only takes a few seconds. They may even want to challenge you to get what you have to say in 30 seconds since no one likes listening to a 5-minute long pitch ( hope you don't do this, right? 😁). Compressing what you have to say in 30 seconds will really show that you stuck to your guns and show you respect their time.

Hi [Gayle], this is [Michael], and you're not expecting my call. Would you give me 30 seconds to tell you why I called you specifically, or you prefer to hang up? Either way, I respect your decision.

Always Give Your Prospects A Choice

In every one of these examples, it’s important to always give your prospects a chance to say no to you. It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Behavioral scientists Nicolas Gueguen and Alexandre Pascual studied how to overcome reactance. In the study, the researchers dressed as panhandlers and asked for money. When they ended their request with “you’re free to accept or refuse”, reactance was reduced and donations increased by 400%!

In any situation, people will appreciate the option. It shows you respect their decision, and hey, respect goes a long way.

Cold calling doesn’t have to be a dreaded task. Turn up your rizz, paired with an opener that works for you and you can turn those cold calls into warm calls. Plus, if you’re using our AI roleplay software, it will help you practice until you’re comfortable and without getting judged. Remember, it’s never just about selling, it’s about connecting with your prospect and the industry.

Happy calling! 📞😄

Be well prepared for any sales conversation.