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Common Questions and Answers
Your opening statement is the most important part of any cold call. Because if your opener doesn’t pique the prospect’s interest, she’ll probably just say “Not interested” and hang up before you can get any further. A really strong opener gives you plenty of room to maneuver during the rest of the call.
Cold call openers vary based on the prospect type (B2B or B2C), product type (high-value or high-volume), industry, territory, etc. The best place to start, therefore, is with the other members of your sales team. The next time you see one of the top performers making cold calls, ask if you can listen in for a few minutes. Then you can customize his techniques to fit your own style.
Successful openers share a few characteristics regardless of your specific situation. The goal of a cold call opener is to elicit the response “Tell me more” from the prospect. Once your listener gives you permission to continue, you can ask a qualifying question or two and then book an appointment, assuming that the lead is in fact qualified for your product.
One way to get the prospect interested is to include a strong benefit right in the opening line. Many successful cold callers use the following format:
“Hello, this is [your name] with [your company] and I’m calling to [increase/decrease] your [revenues/expenses] by 20%.”
By using an extremely big benefit right off the bat, you can pique the prospect’s interest. Be careful not to make the benefit TOO incredible or you’ll sound like a scam artist. Keep your claim big enough to be intriguing without making it so big that it sounds unbelievable.
Here’s an example from an actual cold calling script for real estate brokers that uses this strategy:
You: Would you like to save an additional $10,000 this year?
Them: Who is this?
You: My name is [your name] and I show people how to save an additional $10,000; would you like to learn how to do it?
Them: What’s this about?
You: It’s about saving an additional $10,000 this year; would you like to learn more about it?
Them: Is this some sort of scam?
You: No, I can show you how to save an additional $10,000 this year, it’s what I specialize in. Would you like to learn more?
Them: Who are you with?
You: I’m with [your company] and I specialize in showing clients how to save an additional….
If the “big benefit” opener doesn’t work with your calling style, you might be more comfortable with the informative approach. This cold calling strategy gets the prospect’s attention by presenting you as an expert who has critically important information to share with him. For example, you might say:
“Hi, my name is [your name] and I provide [product benefit, e.g. ‘financial security’ if you sell investment products]. As a [business owner, parent, mortician, etc.], this is really something you should know about.”
Another option is the consultative approach. It’s a close relative of the informative approach except that instead of presenting yourself as an expert, you present yourself as someone who wants to help the prospect. A cold call opener of this type might sound like this:
“Mr. Customer, my name is [your name], and I am your local [what you sell] representative. I have helped a lot of local businesses here in [your city] bring more customers into their stores. May I ask you a few questions to see how we can do the same for you?”
Always smile while you deliver your opening statement — believe it or not, prospects can hear the difference if you’re smiling. And don’t try to use a benefit statement that you don’t believe in, because your lack of confidence will be more obvious to listeners than you’d think.
About the author
My first sales position was a summer job selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I continued through a variety of sales jobs ranging from retail sales for a storage company to selling bank products for a Fortune 500 financial institution.
As a small business owner, I now focuses on selling for my own company, Tailored Content, a website content provider. I write on a wide range of topics but my primary focus is sales and how to sell effectively.