How do you make an opening whether it’s for an email or a phone call that makes the person at other end want to hear you? The simple answer is – shift your focus from yourself (sales) to the person you are reaching out to.

The truth is that nobody likes to field cold emails or calls. But with the more effective and intelligent opening, you can at least get them to listen. Here’s how.

Never dive right in

It is understandable that you want to get to the point and explain why you are writing or calling. But an opening line focused on selling point is likely a turnoff to the other person.

Begin with your audience

Rather than opening with a focus on your reader or listener, try to make it personal so they will feel you really are talking to them instead delivering a general pitch.

Mention a mutual interest

You should begin you email, “Good morning”, Dave. The reason I’m writing this email to you because I saw your website and after reviewing your services I thought you might be interested to know what we have to offer since you do web development and we have something good for you.

Refer to a shared contact

Our working lives are built on relationships so if there is a network connection you share, you should point that out to the stranger you are reaching out to – you will seem a little less unfamiliar. Suppose you are the head of consulting business and you are calling a potential CEO client, then you might begin: “Good morning, Katy. I am calling because Barbara White told me you have an ambitious speaking agenda, and she thought you would be interested in how many firm might support you”. These mutual ties can often get your foot in the door.

Show you know something about them

Suppose you are a CEO of web design agency and you receive an email like, “I know your company offer a creative design services and I am fascinated by the quality of work you have delivered to your clients.” I am sure you are at least going to open the email and go through it because someone knows what you do and he/she knows about your services.

Convey respect or appreciation for what they’ve achieved

Suppose you are contacting a web design agency then first go through their website and check their past work. Appreciate their work if they have done a remarkable job in terms of concept design and quality code. People love to hear about their work and expect genuine comments about their work. So before you begin, make sure you have sufficient information about what they have achieved.

Say what’s in it for them

Suppose you are searching for a job and want to talk with the head of HR about opportunities. Cold pitching about job opportunities is always a crapshoot but you stand the best chance with an opening like, “I know your firm hires some of the best talent around, and I wonder if you’d be interested in the strong communications experience I’d bring.” I tried this approach early in my career when I cold-called the HR chief for a large telecom company; it landed me a job.

The way you open will determine how things conclude. So always start by referring directly to your listener or reader–their needs, interests, and priorities. Yes, that may mean getting to your point a moment or two later, but it’s the only way you’ll be granted the opportunity to do so in the first place.