First impressions are everything.
This saying is common for a reason: It’s true—especially in cold calling. When you cold call a prospect, you need to ensure you nail the relationship from the get-go. If you don’t, you will not get another chance to impress them. So, what are the best cold call scripts and opening lines, and how can you use them most effectively?
I will walk you through my top four cold call opening line options. For each, I’ll give you a template for the language you might use and explore why this approach works in cold calling.
The Best Cold Call Opening Lines and Why You Need Them
Let me kick things off by countering an objection that has been hashed out in thinkpiece posts a hundred times over the past decade: Is cold calling dead?
Not only is cold calling still alive, but it’s only becoming more effective over time. As more sales reps and teams pivot to automated emails and LinkedIn messages, cold calling gains more and more power to cut through the noise.
I’m not saying you should abandon social selling, email, and other forms of outreach, but cold calling should be part of every sales rep’s toolkit. Along with cold calling, you should be prepared to leave strong voicemail messages and follow up with text messages to encourage prospects to take your next call.
RELATED: Cold Calling vs Warm Calling
When you get a cold prospect on the phone, you need to work fast to demonstrate that talking to you is going to be worth their time. If you don’t have a strong opener, you’ll lose the sale before you even start.
I make it a point to take every cold call I receive. This way, I can see what sales reps are being taught and trained. Here are some of the worst cold call opening lines I’ve heard over and over again:
- “Is now a good time?”
It’s never a good time to have your time wasted—if the prospect can’t see how you’ll provide value to them, the answer will be “no.”
- “Did I catch you at a bad time?”
Like the last approach, this opener leaves doubt in your prospect’s mind as to whether or not you’re worth their time. Planting the idea that this is a bad time in their mind also sets the call up for a negative tone.
- “Cute” or funny openers
Rather than trying to be a comedian, you want to sound like an authority and an expert. If you want to be a trusted advisor, act like one.
With those in mind, let’s look at four opening lines that will help you book more meetings and win more deals.
1. The Referral Opening
The first option for a cold call opening line that works is to open with a referral. This is, of course, only an option in the instance where you’ve received a recommendation to reach out to this prospect from an existing client.
Let’s take a look at a sample script using this approach:
“Good Morning [PROSPECT], My name is Anthony Iannarino calling from The Sales Blog. I’m reaching out because while working with [REFERRAL] at [REFERRAL COMPANY] I learned that you may like some assistance with [PAIN POINT]. Is this a good time to discuss how the solution that worked for [REFERRAL] might work for your business?”
Why does this approach work? First off, establishing a common contact helps to set you up as a friend-of-a-friend rather than a stranger, which gives your relationship with your prospect more solid footing.
Additionally, starting off by quoting a success story tied to a contact your prospect knows gives you credibility right off the bat. What’s stronger than opening by providing tangible proof that your solution has already worked for a company just like theirs?
2. The Immediate Value Opening
If you’ve been in the sales industry long, you are familiar with value-based selling. In this sales approach, you focus on helping your prospect learn something new about themselves and their challenges. Then, you act as an adviser, working with your prospect to guide them toward the solution most likely to address those challenges and help them achieve their goals.
You lead with value from the first breath in a value-based selling approach to cold calling. Let’s see what that looks like in action:
“Hello [PROSPECT], this is Anthony Iannarino with The Sales Blog. I’m calling to see if your team is tired of [PAIN POINT]? My solution [SOLUTION] might be able to help your team by [SOLUTION SPECIFICS]. Is now a good time to discuss?”
This opening line works because you’re demonstrating upfront that you understand the pains your prospect experiences. Additionally, by establishing how you have the key to solving their challenges, you reduce the risk of spending time in conversation with you. In other words, you’ve proved that a conversation with you will be worth their time and engagement.
3. The FOMO Opening
For those who are unfamiliar, FOMO is a common acronym that stands for “fear of missing out.” In this approach, you’ll kick off your call by establishing what your prospect will miss out on if they do not book a meeting with you.
Here’s a sample script for this type of opening line:
“Good Morning [PROSPECT], My name is Anthony Iannarino with The Sales Blog. I’m calling to ask you for a meeting to share with you what we have learned working in your industry. We have a number of insights that have allowed us to overcome some of the challenges that overcome some of the new challenges you guys have been experiencing. What do you look like this Thursday afternoon for a 30 minute meeting to share what we’ve learned?”
The secret to this approach is tailoring the approach to the prospect’s company and showing just what they stand to lose if they don’t explore your solution. If you can establish that you hold the secret to solving their pain points, you’ll find success with this opener.
4. The Trading Value Opening
The final approach you can use to cold call opening lines is my own proprietary method. I believe salespeople need to be willing and prepared to trade value for the meeting they’re trying to book. Your prospects’ time has value—what are you willing to offer them in return for giving you some of that precious time?
Here’s a script you can use to try trading value in cold calls for yourself:
“Good morning [PROSPECT]. This is Anthony Iannarino with The Sales Blog. I am calling you today to ask you for a twenty-minute meeting where I can share with you an executive briefing about four trends that will have the most significant impact on manufacturers in the next eighteen to twenty-four months.”
This trading-value opening line works because it sets clear expectations for the call, establishing how much time you expect and what the prospect will receive in return. By promising to share more valuable information than the time commitment you’re asking for in return, you’ll increase your likelihood of booking a meeting.
In my experience, reps tend to go from booking one meeting for every ten calls to booking four meetings for every ten calls when they switch to this opener.
Beyond the Best Cold Call Opening Lines: Nailing The Whole Call
A strong opening line is critical to nailing your cold calls. However, if you can’t advance the conversation—and the sale—after the opening, you’ll find yourself floundering on your cold calls. That’s why you must learn to master every part of the cold calling process.
My free resource, the Cold Calling Mastery eBook, is designed to help sales reps of all skill levels and experience levels gain the language and confidence they need to crush their cold calls and obliterate their sales targets.
Download the Cold Calling Mastery eBook today to see how you can step up your cold calling game!