Cold Calling Opening Lines

Cold Calling

I was running a sales training course last week where the attendees were making live cold/warm calls to prospective clients. One of the things that struck me is the influence that working in a team environment has because nearly every person had fallen into the same bad habit.

Cold Calling Habits

The habit was opening the call with a weak and meaningless statement that robbed them of their impact. This is not unusual within a company and I generally find that teams very often adopt one or more of the following weak terms:

  • “Hi John, you don’t know me” — There is nothing worse than this for  flagging up that this is a sales call and that you have  not prepared. You might equally say something like “Hi John, Its raining outside”
  • “I’m calling to introduce myself” — I once coached an IT sales person around using the telephone to set appointments. When we examined his last 10 calls it was clear he was upset about the  apparent lack of  success. After all 10 calls in and no appointments. I pointed out, however, that he was 100% successful. He had made 10 calls with the aim to introduce himself. He did and the other person thanked him and then left the call as quick as possible.

  • How are you? — Generally despised by everyone in every sales training I have ever given yet the most common offender. Unless you have an existing relationship with the person then do not use this line. You might be asking with complete sincerity but the other person is likely to think – “Here we go, another useless sales call” and then switch off.

What weak opening lines have you and your companies fallen into. Id love to hear from you.

To make the best possible approach when cold calling (or warm calling) use the 3 step formula ‘OVQ’

Cold Calling 3-Step Formula ‘OVQ’

O – Opening

Don’t be too clever here. Just aim for the quickest and most human connection possible while still developing a conversation. Try one or more of the following:

  • Hi, John Jones?  – Clear and straight to the point.
  • Hi there, I was wondering if you could help me? — Everyone likes to be asked to help, it’s part of the human psyche. The answer you get will also give you an idea about the type of person you are talking with. “Shoot, you’ve got 20 seconds” will tell you a lot about the day orthe  direct personality style of this recipient!
  • I’m not sure if this is relevant for you — This works really well for two main reasons. Firstly, from a psychological point of view most people will be engaged and will either listen to see if it is relevant or they will think “I’ll decide if it’s relevant, not you!”. Secondly, it is far removed from the typical cold calling approach where the person rings up and dives straight in with “Have I got a deal for you!”

V = Value Statement

This where you really earn your right to continue in the conversation. It is your polished, practiced and relevant statement of the value you think might be relevant to the person you are calling. You  can reference:

  • Money saving
  • Profit increases
  • Production Increases
  • Time saving although technically this will result in increased profit and/or money saving
  • A competitor
  • A legislation change
  • An industry problem or challenge

And many more…

 

A good value statement can make or break your calling effectiveness.  In the following example, a company had Marks and  Spencer as a client and wanted to introduce themselves to John Lewis. The value statement could go like this:

“We have just completed a project for Marks and Spencer  which reduced staff churn down from 29% to 18% which has saved them £500,000 in 6 months and is on track to do that every six months from now on in”

Q = Question

Modern day calling is about natural conversation and nothing makes this work better than good questions. This will finish of your brief introduction with a way to pass the communication batten to the other person. It might be something as simple as:

“How relevant is  <insert key value statement item here> to your organisation?”

So our example might go something like this:

“Hi Mr Jones, I wonder if you can help me?”

“I will try”

“We have just completed a project with Marks and Spencers which reduced their staff churn down from 29% to 18% which has saved them £500,000 in six months and is on track to do that every six months from now on in.”

“How relevant is staff churn in your business at the moment?”

This is short, to the point and demonstrates value, value, value. It also comes across very naturally and allows the person being called to engage in the conversation or not at an early stage.

Next time you make a call follow the OVQ process and see how easy cold calling is.

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Facebook comments:


  1. Hard to stop nodding here – this is as succinct as it gets when it comes to getting people to qualify themselves. Stripped down to basics (and fighting to keep it that way) is the only way to go on the phone these days. This demonstrates a short, effective way to get on with it, remain personable and keep meaningless waffle to a minimum. Nice one!

  2. Sales DNA says:

    Thanks for your comments shaun. From a professional practitioner that means a lot.

  3. Annie R.P. says:

    This is great, just exactly what most of us rookies need! thank you for sharing this.

  4. Shaun1990 says:

    After 6 weeks of constant strain at work trying to generate nothing into a sale i wasnt getting very far and considered a new career.

    After putting this into practise in 2 weeks ive quadrupeled my average call/sales ratio and im looking like the dogs bollicks at work, cheers mate.

  5. Sales DNA says:

    Fantastic news! Keep up the good work and let me know how you are getting on.

  6. Another great article! It is fantastic to see that some of the people commenting on here have benefitted from your advice.

    On the theme of cold calling, we like to teach sales people how they can “warm” the conversation up by following the 4 P’s for getting past the gatekeeper: Prep, Purpose, Process and Payoff.

    Prep.: Research the company or industry (pressures, pains and goals). Find out the gatekeeper’s name and target’s name, and be really enthusiastic (yep the old smile inside before you make the call!)

    Purpose: Start the conversation by explaining why you are making the call. Let the gatekeeper know who you are and who you would like to talk to – by name (of the target decision-maker).

    Process: Tell the gatekeeper what you would like to talk to the target about, including a quick line on your (researched) knowledge about the target company.

    Pay-off: How you can measurably help the target.

    If challenged …

    Restate the payoff with the same enthusiasm: Explain what tangible value you offer and (enthusiastically) ask to speak to your target for just two minutes.

  7. Sales DNA says:

    Thanks for the positive feedback Steve. Its always nice to know people read and find value in my articles.

  8. Jenny Parker says:

    Fantastic advice. I am going to use a lot what you have said in my calls this afternoon. I feel confident and know that I will get a good response based on the OVQ.

  9. Sales DNA says:

    Hi Jenny – Fantastic news! I would love to hear how you get on if you can find 5 minutes to come back and post. Cheers, Peter

  10. Jeremy says:

    Hey, this is article was very useful. I am soon to be taking up the mantle of calling for new business at the company I work for. Although I’m going to try and avoid cold calling specifically, this article has given me great pointers all the same. Thanks a lot mate!

  11. Lisa Quake says:

    Great information! Quick question…is it appropriate to ask if the prospect has a moment to talk? I find they respond well to this sign of respect.

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