Imagine getting a call in the middle of your workday from an unidentified number that starts: “Hi Bill – just calling to give you a short break from back-to-back Zoom meetings.” Short, empathetic and humorous openers like this are worth their weight in gold for an SDR.
Savvy SDRs know that the key to a successful cold call is to survive the first five seconds. A brilliant opening line can earn you additional precious seconds that you can use to create rapport and gain the trust to deliver your pitch.
RightBound’s “What’s Your Line” contest was an opportunity for SDRs to showcase some of their best lines – and they didn’t disappoint. Equally important, we gained some great insights into the psyche and competitive nature of SDRs.
Harnessing SDRs’ Competitive Spirit
“What’s Your Line?” was a contest to find the best opening line for a cold call. We set up a landing page and asked SDRs and sales professionals to submit their most epic cold call openers. First prize was a bluetooth headset and earbuds.
We knew that sales professionals are ultra-competitive. Their compensation depends on meeting quotas and targets, with bonuses based on performance. They’re wired to respond to challenges and are very motivated by contests and games. “What’s Your Line?” was designed to appeal to SDRs’ competitive instinct and their desire to win at all costs.
Our banners challenged them to prove they’ve got the goods and that their icebreakers are better and more original than their peers. Then we gave them the outlet to do just that. The prize was also nice, but the prestige and bragging rights from winning the contest was the real motivator.
Never Underestimate the Ingenuity of an SDR
We knew that SDRs were super tenacious and persistent when it came to cold calls, but we probably underestimated their creativity with respect to opening lines. They are truly magicians when it comes to hooking prospects and keeping them on the line.
A common thread among the openers we received was the use of humor and trying to create a mutual bond with the target off the bat. Many entries started with a joke, like “this is a cold call, but I promise it isn’t about life insurance or car warranties.” A great example of combining candor and humor was the line “we both hate cold calls, but my boss made me do it.”
We also saw that many SDRs from different companies use very similar pick up lines, which could be the result of people moving from company to company and sharing their bag of tricks.
Another fascinating thing we learned in follow-up conversations with SDRs is how they behave when receiving cold calls at home. Here we found an interesting split between those who almost always hang up on principle (i.e., the frustration venters) and those who usually give the caller at least a minute or two to deliver the pitch (i.e., the empathizers) and even offer some tips for improving their outreach on the next call.
The marketing/sales strategy behind “What’s Your Line?”
RightBound targets sales development professionals, so each contestant is by definition a super-qualified lead. In addition, the contest was a fun way to spread the word about RightBound, while also showing SDRs and their managers that we truly understand the rigors and challenges of their job.
Imagine a scenario where a RightBound SDR calls one of these leads to set up a meeting and uses the same opening line submitted by that lead in the contest. What are the chances they hang up? And if for some reason they try to get out of the call, our SDR could playfully suggest that perhaps they need to find a better icebreaker – which is the best icebreaker of all!
Choosing a Winner
Within a couple of weeks we received almost 200 submissions altogether, from which we chose four finalists, which were presented in a poll on LinkedIn. Voting was open for one week, and the winner was announced (no spoilers – you’ll have to go to our LinkedIn page to see the voting results!).
It was clear that SDRs invested a lot of time and effort in their submissions. Both the number and quality of submissions exceeded our expectations. Most contestants were from B2B companies in the high-tech sector. In addition to SDRs/BDRs, we also had several submissions from sales leaders. In fact, in follow-up conversations we learned that several SDRs heard about the contest from their bosses.
Steal These Jackhammer Icebreakers
Here are just a few of the highly original openers we received that demonstrate the creativity and humor that SDRs use to hook prospects at the beginning of a cold call.
“Here’s a joke: Two people get on the phone and they both agree upon product & price without further conversation. How are you today?” (Brent Mason, SDR, Impartner PRM Solutions)
“Hi Joe, this is Jamie from Order, I decided to just be a polar bear and break the ice with you!” (Jamie Fisher Koatzm SDR, Negotiatus)
“I know, I’m an interruption here. Mind if I grab 27 seconds and then I let you get back to the salt mines?” (Luke Frain, Sales Manager, Group Management Services)
Don’t be surprised to see epic one liners like these on new swag items in our sdrstuff.com free online store one day (they’re too good to pass up!).
Beyond One Liners
While most contestants submitted one-liners, some SDRs shared a complete (fictional) dialog between themselves and their targets, almost written like a screenplay. The dialog included notes and explanations, as well as directions about tone of voice and even “ring, ring” for the phone. The detailed instructions were at the level of “If they say x, then reply with Y” or “If they say ‘OK’, then you know you have a few more seconds.” This gave us a real insider’s view into the daily life of an SDR.