Cold calling can be a cruel job. Constant rejection and stress wear down even the strongest minded sales reps. Not only it hits our physical and mental health, with around 77% of people experiencing physical symptoms caused by stress and 73% regularly suffering from psychological symptoms induced by stress, it also curtails productivity by 10%. Perhaps that’s why sales managers are determined to teach their reps to use cold calling scripts to ease off the anxiety.
Cold calling scripts are not the law that you need to abide no matter what; they are guidelines supposed to take you from the first hello to arranging payment. In line with a well-defined sales process, cold calling scripts can help sales reps to streamline the sale.
However, the shocker is that almost half of all sales teams don’t have a playbook, despite two-thirds of companies that have a defined sales process in place reporting a 50% higher win rate.
In light of this stress-inducing sales madness, we took it upon ourselves to:
- Write a sales script ebook to give our community a trusted guide to cold calling (you can find it below);
- And collect some of the best tips and cold calling script examples from the industry’s stars.
So here we go!
Who is this? Or how to raise curiosity
After saying hello, you only get a few seconds to raise a prospect’s curiosity and capture their attention. If they are not curious about who you are and why you’re calling, it means your conversation is over before it even started. The prospect might linger on the other end of the line for some time, but only until they come up with a good objection or excuse to hang up. Not the best start.
One of the methods to raise curiosity used by salespeople is to offer a commitment-free next step, such as asking for permission to continue talking or ensuring the prospect can talk at the time of your call.
Here’s one of the classic, and apparently, also classically effective cold-calling scripts developed by the world’s top expert on cold calling – Keith Rosen:
Hi, John. Jim here from Acme Cost Control. Did I catch you at an OK time? John, I’m sure you’re busy and I want to respect your time, so I’ll be brief. The reason for my call is this. We just saved Universal Transport an additional $12 million in shipping costs, so I thought it was important enough to let you know since every company has an obligation to their customers and shareholders to reduce expenses. Now, you may be wondering if we can do this for you, too. Well, depending on what you’re currently doing, I don’t know if you have a need for our services. But with your permission, let’s talk for a few minutes to determine if there is anything we’re doing that you could benefit from. Would you be comfortable spending just a few minutes with me on the phone now, if I stick to this timetable?
Knowing who you’re calling is crucial, but so is placing your call in a context. If the only reason for your call is that a prospect happens to be on your to-call list that day, you’re just another intrusive salesman with nothing interesting to say. Instead, leverage social media channels, media coverage, new hire announcements and news updates to find a valid reason for your call and determine which of your prospects are ripe for engaging at that particular moment.
Have you stumbled upon some compelling events or game-changing business moves that make your product a must-have in the current climate? Use that information to kick-off a conversation and explain the purpose of your call. To save time and energy, invest in tools, such as LinkedIn or Mention to automate the discovery of good context for prospects sitting in your pipeline or wider network.
Ask smart questions
Research should be a no-excuse kind of pre-call ritual that you adopt from day one. Gathering the most important information about a prospect, digging out juicy details and staying on top of company-related news will help you ensure your calls deliver value and maintain prospect’s attention. If you’re reaching out to someone with zero or little knowledge of who they are, what they do and how you can be of service, you’ll hit a dead end after the first three sentences of your elevator pitch.
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The more research you do, the “smarter” your questions will get. By asking very specific, personalized questions you will demonstrate to your prospects that you took the time to track all this information down and really understand their situation. Smart questions will progress the conversation further; trying to wing it will only create distractions, wasting your prospect’s and your own time. And there’s one thing the modern society is truly obsessed with – using their time efficiently.
Don’t give your prospects the reason to hang up on you by failing to get your research game on point. Know who you’re calling, why you’re calling and what the ideal closing scenario looks like.
Here is another cold calling script from Keith Rosen:
Hi________ (state their name)?
(Your name)___________ here from _____________(Company name). Do you have a quick minute?
Great! ________, I’m sure you are a busy person and want to respect your time, so I’ll be brief. The reason for my call is this. We specialize in (working with small business owners, salespeople, managers, etc.) so that you/they can: state your compelling reason – (the end result of the benefit you offer).
Well, Mr./Mrs… Smith, depending on what you are currently doing, I don’t know whether you have a need or an interest in our services. But with your permission, I was hoping to ask you a few questions and see if there is anything we are doing that you could benefit from. Would you be comfortable spending just a few minutes with me if I stick to my timetable?
Then ask a few clever questions to establish prospect’s pain points:
- If you could create the ideal solution for (XXX), what about your current product/service would you like to improve or change.
- If you could magically eliminate three of your biggest problems, headaches or stresses what would they be?
- How do these challenges affect you/your business (bottom line)?
Summarize and Confirm:
- “For my own understanding, what you are truly saying is… (Recap what the prospect shared with you; their problems, challenges, and objectives.) Is that accurate/correct?
- Would it be safe to say that if there was a way for you to… (Restate their biggest obstacle. For example, “to overcome the challenge/obstacle/problem of..”; Restate their most important goal or objective they shared with you.) Would it be worth exploring/discussing in more detail?
Schedule Next Step:
“Then let’s get together for (state timeline. Ex: twenty minutes) to see if there’s a fit. I will answer your questions, share with you several options as well as demonstrate how our product/service will specifically address your challenges/objectives. Mr./Mrs.________, do you have your calendar handy? What day would be good for you, towards the beginning or the end of the week?
“Do mornings or afternoons work better for you?”
Once you determine the meeting time, continue with:
“Fantastic. I’m looking forward to meeting with you on ____at ____.
(Confirm all decision-makers.)
Thanks. Have a great day!”
Learn about prospect’s needs. Define if they’re a fit.
No matter whether it’s a cold call, an email or a face-to-face conversation, the most important box a sales rep needs to tick is qualifying. Is there a need for your product? It could be tempting to start pitching once you feel you’ve hit it off with the prospect, but the most successful people manage to shift their mindset away from ‘making the sale’ towards whether a good fit exists or not.
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At this stage, a common mistake that sales reps make is asking a very general question like “Do you want to grow your business” that simply neither confirms nor refutes the prospect’s need for or interest in the product. Avoiding the qualifying questions leads to wasted time and energy on both sides. The aim here should always be to check if there’s a fit and not try to persuade or force the prospect into continuing the conversation.
In no particular order, some of the most powerful questions used to qualify prospects can include:
- What happens if you do nothing about the problem?
- If you had to point to something not working so well, what current challenge do you have that you’d like to resolve?
- Why isn’t this particular technology/service/product/situation/issue working for you right now?
- Many of our clients are reporting problems with areas A, B, and C. How are these areas affecting you? What do you think about them?
- If you were to make this happen, what would it mean for you personally?
Here’s another cold calling script from James K. Kim that you can use to boost your sales:
Hi, [Prospect’s name], this is [Your name] with [Your company]. How’s your [Today’s day] going?
(note: I’ve found that ‘How’s your Tuesday (or whatever day it is you’re calling) going?” gets a more positive response from cold calling prospects than the standard ‘How are you?’ I’m not sure why, but it just is.)
Listen, [Prospect’s name], I know you probably get a ton of calls so I’ll make this quick.
In a nutshell, we help companies to [state the problem or hot button issue you solve, e.g. reduce costs, raise revenues, save time, make it easier, etc.].
We do this by [how you solve the problem], making it [benefits for customer].
[Prospect’s name], would you be open to the idea of just seeing how this works?
Great, quick question [Prospect’s name]: who else is involved in the decision making process for something like this?
And what do they usually do in this kind of situation? Does it make sense to you to have them see this as well?
How will you make a decision if we’re a good fit?
Great, [Prospect’s name]. It sounds like it could be a good fit. How does your calendar look for [day] at [time] your time?
Test close: discover price sensitivity and decision timeline
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One of the rules of the Ari Galper’s cold calling model “Unlock The Game” is to behave with dignity and stop chasing prospects. It’s a little sad that a rule like this should be reinforced, but it reminds us that, time and time again, salespeople fail because they approach cold calling as a mechanical, lifeless task rather than a human conversation. If you get to the point of the conversation where the pain points and challenges your prospect is facing have been established, you see a clear fit and believe your product can actually solve a problem, testing a soft close can be a good idea.
Pitches that lead to a soft sale typically rely on questions that present two attractive options and can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. “Would you be looking at June or July to start the implementation?”, “Is Tuesday or Friday a better day for a meeting?”, “The Basic plan is $40 per month and the Premium with access to X features is $60 a month. Which one would work better for you?” are good examples of setting the prospect up for a soft sale. This approach opens up a much more relaxed, tension-free space for a conversation, unlike hard-sell questions like “Would you like to start with the Basic plan?”.
Check out this cold calling script from Jamie Masters, who found that natural-sounding scripts are the only ones that work:
“Mr. Prospect, have I caught you at an ok time?” If they say yes:
“Great, thank you. I would like to take 2 minutes to tell you why I called. If at the end of 2 minutes you have any questions, I’d love to answer them. If not, you can just let me go. Okay?”
“Ok, great. The reason I called is because I read through your website and I know you are recruiting sales staff. It can be a challenge to, number one FIND the right people and two to KEEP them on board once you have them. Because of our experience (using our proprietary software) and the skill of the people we hire to do all preliminary screening, we have a slightly better than a 90% success rate – helping our clients hire sales staff who become top tier producers within the first year. And as you can well guess successful salespeople tend to stay put for a long while.”
“Do you currently have a system in place that gains you the salesforce you need to meet your company’s demand?”
“Yes, we do.”
“That is great, the only way we’ll ever be able to help you is if we can assist you in doing that better.”
“No, we do not.”
“Honestly, that’s not unusual, we hear that an awful lot. It seems like we might have a lot to talk about. How would you like to set up a call for next week to see if it makes sense for us to work together?” (pause)
[We use a lot twice in the above exchange to make it seem more real – less scripted]
“Great, I have most afternoons available to chat. What day is good for you?”
Schedule next steps
The rule of thumb when trying to get the next steps confirmed is to be prepared to ask at least three times. In his book “New Sales. Simplified.” Mike Weinberg explains that prospects are automatically wired to say no. So you must learn to shake it off and not give up after the first try. You must continue to prove value and keep the dialogue open; when the opportunity emerges, and you see a clear problem-solution fit, ask again. This approach can make a lot of sales reps extremely uncomfortable, but it’s proven to get excellent results.
“Do you have 20 minutes later this week to see if this could be a good fit?” or a more elaborate “Great. It sounds like there could be a perfect fit. Do you have time on Wednesday or Thursday around 10 a.m. to discuss all your questions?” will help you move the conversation forward without being too pushy.
Remember, if they say no, ask again. But better.
Don’t let the stress get the better of you. Cold calling can be a little uncomfortable until you break the ice, but in the end, it’s just a conversation with another human being. You’re not trying to persuade, force or trick your prospect into buying anything. What you’re doing is helping them find a solution that will propel their business while also winning at your job.
Make the best of our cold calling script ebook and all the expert tips we managed to incorporate there and go get them!
However, the cold call is just the beginning and is followed by multiple other steps.