What do songs, stories, and cold calls all have in common? Simple; the first few seconds determine whether you want to hear the rest or not. In those opening moments, you’re either blown off your socks with intrigue or it’s on to the next one. Heck, you’re probably contemplating whether to continue reading this article as we speak!
The sad truth (and biggest handicap for sales teams) is that we’re living in an ever hectic world where it’s ‘get to the point or shut up already’. Prospects just don’t have the time to listen; especially not to random strangers on the other end of the line. Knowing this, how do you work around the handicap and take the sales ball all the way to the end zone?
Slow down there cowboy, you need to get the ball rolling first before you can even think of making a sale. Research shows that the way you open your call not only influences the prospects moods, but also impacts the overall sales conversion success rate significantly. If you can’t grab their focus or intrigue within 5-10 seconds, your pitch will fall on deaf ears with zero chance of making a sale. After analyzing thousands of sales calls, Veloxy gives you 5 of the greatest cold call openers that work 7 out of 10 times.
1: Sound Check
“Hi, can you hear me ok?”
This is kind of a trick opening line that plays on the curious nature of the human mind. Even if your prospect wouldn’t normally consider engaging with cold callers, this opener forces them to say yes while making them curious on what it is they need to be hearing okay. What’s more, the fact that you don’t immediately put your listener on the defensive makes them more likely to hear you out.
But while you can expect almost everyone to answer yes, this opener tends to get mixed reactions. A large number of prospects may hang up after the second line once they find out who you are and what you want. Try to follow up the opener with a pitch worthy of all the curiosity and intrigue you just sowed. Otherwise, a lot of people are going to feel really swindled.
2: Overly Excited Approach
“Top of the morning!” or “Happy Tuesday!”
In case you hadn’t noticed, most customer care and cold calls tend to be somewhat mechanical for lack of a better word. If you were to describe most of these calls, happy would not be among your descriptive vocabulary. Words like boring, miserable, and scripted on the other hand…
Let’s just say it’s always a nice change of pace to hear someone on the other end of the phone who isn’t bored or miserable. If you can come off as happy and excited about the day (and even the cold call itself), your attitude is sure to be contagious. Get your prospects excited and they’ll be more attentive and engaged with your pitch. Even if you don’t make the sale, at least you’ll have created a lasting impression on the prospect.
3: Friendly Narcissistic Appeal
“How’ve you been?… “I was hoping you could help us out over here.”
Asking a prospect how they’ve been makes them feel like an old friend, even without any prior contact having taken place. And since most people are generally polite, they’ll be inclined to listen if they think they know you. Well, that is at least until they realize you’re a complete stranger – and a cursed salesman nonetheless! Needless to say, your prospect will put their defenses up at this point.
This is when you pull out the kiss ass/pleading appeal phase of the approach. Truth is, we’re all a bit narcissistic and love to feel important. So if someone asks for help, people tend to at least listen first even if they don’t intend to go out of their way to help. Your prospects will be more willing to listen and engage if they feel like they are contributing to a greater/noble cause (time wise that is).
4: Considerate Salesman Approach
“Did I catch you at a bad time?”
At some point, making cold calls is like playing a game of chess. You have to anticipate the opponent’s moves in advance, and adapt your game play accordingly. Hence the question ‘is this a bad time.’ Not only does asking the question acknowledge that your prospects are busy, it shows you are considerate of their time and don’t intend to take up much of it. It also gives your prospects the power to put your down early. Now, this may seem counterintuitive since it puts their defenses up to max, but it also renders them null and void. Think of it as sacrificing your bishop to draw out the queen.
The main strategy here is this – you know they’ll say yes because for strangers, it’s always a bad time. When they say yes, make sure you tell them you’ll be real quick and give them the short, fast version of your pitch. If they’re really insistent that it’s a bad time, wrap it up before they get angry and thank them. You can always follow up later. Either way, this approach stops you from wasting your time on uninterested parties and focus on the wet fry.
5: Pattern Interrupt Hypnosis
If you’re making several hundred cold calls to strangers every day, it helps to know a bit about the human mind. For instance, did you know that the average person has up to 50,000 thoughts a day? Even more interesting (to us) is, over 90% of these thoughts are the same – it makes total sense! After all, we tend to follow the same routine every day following the same thought pattern. So, how does this help you sell?
Among many other hypnosis techniques, pattern interrupt relies on disrupting these thought patterns in a number of ways to achieve hypnosis. The main idea here is that by interrupting someone’s regular thought patterns, you can leave them open to suggestion and program them to respond in a certain way. Flashback to all those half handshake half fist pumps you’ve had in your life. You went in for a handshake, saw a fist, so you made one. Your partner also came in for the pump, saw an open palm, and conformed – hence the back and forth open and clench that makes a simple handshake seem like advanced algebra.
Pattern interrupt can also be effectively applied to cold calls as well. One of the popular techniques called blocking involves interrupting a person mid sentence or not responding appropriately to communication cues. You could also apply Milton H. Erickson’s verbal ambiguity hypnotic techniques where you ask a senselessly profound question that just puts a prospects thinking process completely on hold.(For more details, check out Veloxy’s Savvy Salesman’s Hypnosis Handbook.)
6: The Honest Abe Approach
“Hello, we’ve never met or spoken before.”
Looking back at all the psychological antics and strategic frolics we’ve pulled, this seems like a very counterintuitive approach to take. After all, why would any prospect want to speak to a random person they’ve never even spoken to before? But if you really think about it, aren’t all prospect relationships built on trust?
If you can establish a sense of trust and honesty early on, you’ll be starting off with a solid gold approach which will be best for business in the long run. In an industry where salespeople are using intrigue, conniving, and all forms of trickery to nab prospects (guilty as charged), total honesty comes as a complete breath of fresh air. If you approach your prospects dead on without any angles or agendas, 9 out of 10 people will be more than willing to hear you out. What more, prospects will find it easier to reciprocate the honesty for better or worse.
Out of all the above cold call opening lines, the honesty approach seems to have the highest conversion rates. However, an equally large percentage of prospects were also converted into customers by a mixture of all the other approaches. It’s safe to say that no single line will work for everyone.
It’s up to you to customize your opener and tweak your pitch according to the prospect you’re calling. If you’re still struggling with low conversion rates, you can also check out our article on turning cold calls into warm leads. It’ll show you how to use Veloxy inbox to sieve out and warm up interested parties to a call. If your prospect is already expecting your call, then the opener won’t really matter a lot, will it?