7 Cold-Call Opening Statements From Hell – by Jim Domanski

When cold calling, the opening statement is THE most critical element to your success. If you don’t nail the opener and get the prospect’s attention, you needn’t worry about the rest of the call. In short, you can’t afford to make a mistake.

Regrettably, mistakes are made but the troubling fact is that the SAME mistakes are made repeatedly, every day, by thousands of sales reps.  Here are seven cold call opening statements that illustrate the typical blunders tele-prospectors make.  Are you guilty?

Example #1: “Hey Pete, How are you today?  This is Jane Seamore calling for H8 Enterprises. Have you heard of us?”

Two points here. First, “How are you today?” is insipid, trite and wastes precious time. Prospects don’t like it so don’t use it. Secondly, the hope is the prospect will say, “Why no, tell me more about your company because I have loads of time on my hands.” Of course, they don’t. They don’t have time for idle chit chat and irrelevant questions. Cut to the quick. Get to the point.

Example #2: “Katie? Henry Eighthly calling from Tower Transport Logistics in London.  Katie, the reason for my call is to follow up on an email I sent you on how we can reduce your long-halls shipping costs.  Did you get it?”

In this example, Henry just handed the prospect a bona fide objection on a silver platter. About 95% of the time the prospect will say “no” and ask you to send it again. They get rid of you in a New York minute and then they’ll avoid your call like the plague when you follow up. Never ask if they got something or read something.

Example #3: “Oh hi. Is this the safety manager? Good. I’m Justin Kovalev calling from Senator Safety products. We specialize in safety communications programs. Did I catch you at a good time?”

Notice, the rep did not use the prospect’s name. Using the name helps get the prospect’s attention. Not using a name screams that you haven’t done your homework. Next, nothing will stop a cold call faster than asking if you have caught them at a good time. Sure, it’s polite but it’s never a good time. They’re busy and you’ve given them a great way to blow you off. Instead, use this handy trigger phrase:  “If I have caught you at a good time, I’d like to ask you some questions to get a feel for your situation…”

Example #4: “Ms. Harris, my name is Mary Worth and I’m a financial adviser who works with single moms who struggle to plan their financial future.  Let me ask you, What are some of the personal challenges you’re experiencing when it comes to planning for your kids’ education?

Aw shucks, this started so well! The unique proposition statement is great. However, the following question is a real cold-call killer. Who in their right mind would open up to such an intimate and personal question in the OPENING statement? Never, ever make your first question something that is challenging, embarrassing, personal or awkward.  Sure, it’s a bold and enticing question but you haven’t earned the trust or the right to ask it at this moment. Start with an easy question to get a wedge in the door.

 Example #5:  “Hi, this is Mark Major from Mensa Medical. We specialize in a variety of hospital supplies.  I was wondering: What would it take to earn your business?”

This opener has been around since 1953. It was cheesy then and it is cheesy now. Translated, it is saying is this: “I don’t want to earn your business the old fashioned way through a needs analysis. I want you to make it easy for me, a stranger, and just tell me.” There is no attempt at rapport and there is certainly no benefit to the busy prospect.

Example #6:  “Antonio? My name is Brandon Mirovich calling from Vaststar Software.  We work with HR professionals helping them streamline their personnel review processes. Antonio, if I could show you a way to reduce the time it takes to write, conduct and complete a personnel review by 50%, would you take a moment to listen?”

This opener seems to offer a rich benefit. You’d think the prospect would be salivating. The trouble is, this opener has been overused for 27 years.  Every prospect has heard it at least seventeen or eighteen times in their career. And this has made them skeptical and cynical. High falutin’ promises and benefits are seen as slick and untrustworthy. So, when you offer your benefits, make them reasonable, not ridiculous.

Example #7:  “Dr. James, this is Tracie Hardie calling from Orbital Dental. We’re the dental specialists. Dr. James, we offer a wide range of  (insert a 600 word pitch) blah, blah, blah.”

Sadly, this is STILL the most common cold call opener: The telemarketing pitch. The idea is to vomit and spew out information and hope that something sticks. No one wants a monologue, sermon or speech. Your cold-call opener must have your full name, company name, a reason for the call, a benefit as to why they should listen further, and finally a question that gets a dialog going.

Cold calling doesn’t have to be a hellish experience. Give yourself an edge and make the process easier by avoiding these seven blunders.


Jim Domanski is president of Teleconcepts Consulting and for over 18 years has worked with B2B companies and individuals who struggle to use the telephone more effectively when selling and marketing their products and services.  The author of three books on B2B tele-sales, Jim has worked with clients big and small throughout the US, Canada and parts of Europe by providing consulting, training and coaching. Visit his weblog at www.telesalesmaster.com.