The Absolute BEST B2B Tele-Prospecting Opening Statement… Ever!

Hands down, the best ‘go-to’ opener for cold calling is the  “Humble Opener.” Seriously! This is a VERY, VERY good opening statement template.

Highly effective, versatile, easy-to-learn AND easy-to-apply the humble is your ticket to better tele-prospecting results. Adapt this statement to your situation, practice it and deliver it well, and you’ll increase your presentation rate.   And that means more sales down the line. Period. End of story.

A bit of background: I stole this opening statement from a rep by the name of Rocky Mancini about 15 years ago. Initially, I wasn’t too fond of it. In fact, I thought it was a little wimpy and that it lacked a sense of ‘confidence.’   I was dead wrong. Prospects didn’t seem to react that way at all. In fact, their response was just the opposite. They were (and still are) extremely receptive to the tone and approach of the message.

Humble  Opening Examples

Below are three examples to illustrate the Humble approach. Take a look at each. Determine the common denominators. Kind in mind: how we READ versus how it SOUNDS are two different issues. You may want to read them aloud to appreciate their subtleties.

Example #1

“Anthony? This is Pat McCormick calling from XYZ Investments; we specialize in helping small business owners maximize their retirement portfolio.

Of course, Anthony, at this point in time I’m not certain if we can help minimize your tax exposure and maximize your investments but if I’ve caught you at a good time, I’d like to ask you a few questions, get a feel for your situation and see if it makes sense to chat further.

Let me ask you…”

Example #2

“Kerri, its Aaron Manusco calling from ABC Distributing.

Kerri, the reason for my call is to follow up on an e-mail I sent you yesterday introducing our new tele-account management program designed to streamline your ordering processing and reduce shipping costs.

I don’t if you’ve had a chance to review it in any detail but if I’ve caught you at a good time I’d like to ask you just a few quick questions to better understand your business and then, if it makes sense, explain the program and what it can do for you.

Let me ask…”

Example #3:

“Hi Pat, this Sandra Smythe from TS Consulting. I help companies use the telephone more effectively to sell and market their products.

Pat, I’m not sure if my services would be of benefit to your company but I’ve worked with other distributors helping them increase their contact rates and ultimately their sales.

If I’ve caught you at good time, I’d like to ask you a few quick questions to get a better feel for your situation and determine if it might be worth our while to chat further.

Let me ask….”

Analysis – 5 Reasons Why the Humble Works so Well!

First off, the Humble works because it is client focused not product focused. Notice it doesn’t pitch the product but rather seeks to determine if a need exists (“I’d like to ask you a few questions…) That in itself, puts the opener in a league of its own.

Secondly – and most importantly – the opener utilizes a powerful little ‘trigger’ phrase: “I don’t know…” or “I am not certain…” (Or variations on that theme). This is the very heart of the Humble Opener and it’s what makes it work. Delivered with honesty and conviction this phrase gets prospects to tune in and actually listen closely.

At first glance, it would seem this tentative remark would suggest that the telephone rep is uncertain about his/her product or service. However, the effect is quite the opposite. Prospects like it because it triggers the impression that the rep understands the prospect’s situation is unique and different. It implies there may not be an application for his product or service and if there is none, the rep will politely terminate the call. This ‘take away’ tactic makes the call that much more provocative and gets the prospect all the more curious.

One more thing: most telephone reps don’t approach the call in such a humble fashion and because of that the call is distinctive to the prospect. Most prospects are used to tele-reps spilling their guts or making grand promises of benefits. The Humble is different … so prospects tend to listen more closely rather than dismiss the call. They sense that this is not your run-of-the-mill “telemarketing” call.

Third, while the Humble does not ignore benefits, it presents them in a subtle manner. The opener dangles them but it doesn’t promise them. Benefits are used in the opener to communicate to the client what they might derive. The operative word is ‘might.’ It’s tantalizing, not bombastic. There is a genuine sense of candid honesty. Prospects are more apt to listen if only because they are curious as to why it might not work.

Fourth, another handy trigger phrase is “if I caught you at a good time.” The prospect senses the rep is polite and considerate about interrupting the moment. But if you look at it closely, the rep is not really asking if ‘now’ is a good time but rather is asking if he could ask a few questions. The way the phrase is worded is respectful and acknowledges the importance of time but it is really a request to ask some questions.

Finally, the rep doesn’t wait for a direct reply but rather asks the first question. It gets the client engaged and talking. This increases the chance of completing the call.


Sure, a prospect can still terminate the call and many will. But the Humble typically increases the ‘listen’ rate by about 35%-40%. That doesn’t mean sales will increase by that much but it does mean more prospects will listen more attentively rather that tuning out. And that’s where you get the competitive edge.

I am not certain how it will work for you but give it a try and let me know.

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4 Responses to The Absolute BEST B2B Tele-Prospecting Opening Statement… Ever!

  1. Just back from overseas travel… Let me how what happened with your team when they implemented the approach! Jim

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  2. I have been using a very similar approach, with one major difference, for well over 20 years. I call mainly into Fortune 2000 firms, speaking to potential prospects at the Director level and above, most often at the VP-level, but occasionally at the SVP or C-level, when I run into an irrational VP who’s efforts have created a mess. Yes, I do occasionally run into those folks, like a VP of Marketing I spoke to recently, who told me to buzz off when I offered a potential solution to his budget spiraling out of control with no real measurable return! When his boss asked me if I had spoken to his VP, I said I most certainly did. The bosses next question — What is he doing about this? Long story short, irrational executives are expendable and valuable solutions are perfectly acceptable in the hands of prudent decision-makers.

    When done right, this approach sets you up (along with asking the right questions) for the prospect to work with you in solving a challenge or accomplishing an organizational goal. That’s the whole point of sales. Yes?

    The approach works extremely well with both assistants and the actual prospect. I wouldn’t think of using any other approach. I approach the assistant the exact same way I approach the prospect. Remember, they are a decision maker as well. They make the most important decision of all, whether or not to give you access and to what degree! The key — you have to be genuine and offer something of value targeted to the right prospect, or at least framed to allow the prospect or assistant to point you in the right direction.

    This means you have to be able to adapt the approach, depending on the target prospect and the precise reason you are calling on that particular person.

    Do your research first and this approach will serve you very well!

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  3. Ken, Excellent comments and insights. (And I too, have run into the ‘irrational’ executive from time to time!)

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