Cold-Calling Script: Make a Call That Works
Here’s a classic, and classically effective, cold-calling script—along with some essential advice for making it work.
This is part of a package on cold calling. Read the next post: Why Your Cold Calls Aren’t Working.
While there are other (and usually more effective) ways to generate sales leads, many companies still depend on cold calling. I’ve covered cold calls before, but here’s a great cold-calling script from one of the world’s top experts on cold calling, Keith Rosen, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cold Calling.
This script was created by a cost-reduction company for use with C-level executives and can easily be adapted to virtually any product or service.
By the way, the most important part of this post is the final word of warning—so be sure to read all the way to the bottom.
Here’s the script, with explanations of each element:
Hi, John. Jim here from Acme Cost Control.
Identify yourself immediately, or the contact will hang up on you.
Did I catch you at an OK time?
This question demonstrates respect for the person’s time and an understanding that your phone call is not the only thing on his or her plate for the day. You may feel that asking this question sets you up to hear a no, but don’t worry: Whether someone says yes or no or «No, but go ahead,» the next statement makes the response entirely moot.
John, I’m sure you’re busy and I want to respect your time, so I’ll be brief.
This statement still allows you to continue regardless of how the person initially responded to you, rather than scheduling another time to call. This is a good thing, because you’ve finally got a prospect on the phone, so the last thing you want to do is hang up and attempt to catch him or her again.
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.
The purpose of these sentences is to create a compelling reason for the person on the other end to continue the conversation. Note that you’ve said nothing about how the benefit was achieved. At this point, the customer doesn’t care about your specific product; the customer only wants to know what to expect if the conversation continues.
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.
This eliminates a potentially adversarial posture, lowers the person’s resistance, and brings down his or her guard. It lets customers know you’re not trying to force down their throat something they may not need or may not be ready for.
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.
This statement opens up a dialogue so you can get permission from the prospect to have a preliminary conversation.
Would you be comfortable spending just a few minutes with me on the phone now, if I stick to this timetable?
This establishes a timeline, letting the prospect know that you’re taking accountability for the length of the call, that you respect the person’s time and won’t keep him or her on the phone.
Once you have gotten permission to continue, you now have a prospective customer engaged in a conversation with you—and you can then determine whether there’s a good fit.
Remember: Have a Conversation
One final, important note: Do not read the script, under any circumstances. Instead, practice the script as written, and then practice it from memory—so that the words emerge naturally, as if you just thought of them, the moment you began speaking.
This is what great stage actors do. They rehearse until the words are «part of them»—then, when they speak lines they’ve spoken on stage 100 or even 1,000 times before, each performance seems fresh and exciting.
Also, when you ask a question as part of the conversation, stop and actually listen to the customer. Don’t plow through like a carnival pitchman. This is about having a conversation, not about getting the words out of your mouth.
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7 Customizable Sales Scripts For Handling Objections Over the Phone
During my time as an SDR, I’ve focused on developing listening skills that help me spot, internalize, and process sales objections as opposed to using scripted, reactive responses meant to lessen the unpredictability.
Being able to quickly internalize objections helps you maintain a natural flow in conversations rather than breaking things up with an “If prospect says X, then say Y” canned response. Using scripted, robotic answers signals to your prospect that you do not truly understand their needs and will result in a hang up.
The key to handling sales objections over the phone is keeping these scripts in the back of your mind, but not actually using them verbatim. Listening to your prospects, accepting moments when you get roughed up, and learning from mistakes will help you develop a finer understanding of selling situations and the logic behind them.
Here are a few scripts I have at the ready for common sales objections.
Objection Handling Scripts
1. «I’m not interested.»
File this one under “invalid reason.” Usually this is more of an emotional response to pesky salespeople taking up precious time. When you hear this, the prospect is dismissive, and probably did not listen to what was being said. A very terse objection, this one can be the most difficult objection for newer SDRs to overcome.
However, you have a good reason for calling the prospect and you already know exactly why the prospect should be interested. Ask questions to understand why the prospect is objecting while maintaining your composure.
Example script: «Thank you Mrs. Prospect. I understand why you may feel that this is not of any interest to you; however, I can assure you that director at CLIENT X told me the exact same thing and now he is using our solution to do W, X, and Y. I understand that improving W, X, and Y are important KPIs for you and your business as well — can you share with me why improving these metrics is not of any interest to you at this time?»
Asking this question gets the prospect to think about your product and/or value proposition in the context of their business and role and also helps you move beyond the initial resistance —usually into another objection. While it may seem undesirable to move from “not interested” to yet another sales objection, these secondary objections are usually more rational and less knee-jerk.
Pro tip: Speak slowly and clearly. Sometimes the prospect is not interested because he literally has no idea what you said. Also, “not interested” is just another way of saying “I don’t want to listen.” Sometimes people will not want to listen to you, and that’s okay.
2. «We don’t have budget.»
If the prospect has never been in contact with your company and claims they cannot afford your solution, this is just another way of brushing you off.
The more reasonable budget objection occurs when the prospect is working with a boot-strap budget where every penny of the year is already accounted for (“Management slashed my budget in half — I honestly couldn’t buy your product even if I wanted to”). Sometimes, the prospect will say this to brush you off, but in most instances, it is a genuine concern.
It is up to the SDR’s discretion, keen judgment, and instincts to determine if the prospect is being sincere. In this situation, it helps to keep in mind that your solution’s ROI could very well lead to a bigger budget for the prospect in the long run.
Example script: «Thank you for the insight, Mr. Prospect. I understand why you may be hesitant to open up some budget for a solution you have no experience with. The reason I am calling you however is to open up some initial dialogue. CLIENTS X and Y implemented our tool to solve Z and K and I understand these are also problems for your business. Even if you do not purchase our solution, it would be prudent for us to connect and discuss the benefits for you when budget does open up.»
Another type of budget objection results from the prospect having already evaluated the solution through previous meetings and concluding that it was not worth the cost. If this just happened, it will prove very difficult to convince the prospect that you have an additional value proposition outside of a sizeable discount. If a few months have passed, be sure to reference new clients, product updates, or use cases to demonstrate added value.
Example script: «Ms. Prospect, since the last time we connected, we have improved our solution’s UX and expanded integration offerings. These updates are the reason CLIENT X just signed with us last month to increase T and R. Since you mentioned T and R as problems the last time we spoke, it would be great to reconnect and discuss the added value these improvements offer your business.»
3. «We already use something for that.»
While it may be tempting to try and overcome this objection by attacking or devaluing the prospect’s current solution, all too often the people we are speaking to are the same people responsible for completing the project we hope to replace. In these instances, implying
that you somehow know better than your prospects or being outright rude is a bad idea.
I recommend affirming the value of your prospect’s solution and offering additional value. Think about it: If the prospect is already in the market for your services, it is his duty and in his best interest to be absolutely sure that the current solution is in fact ideal for the business.
Example script: «I’m glad to hear that you are already working with a provider — this confirms that you see the value in using such a solution to increase X and Y. I am calling you because in addition to increasing X and Y, we’ve worked with companies like CLIENT X to boost Z as
4. «It’s not a good time.»
This objection comes up because the prospect is preoccupied with other responsibilities and cannot envision making your proposed project a priority. Whatever reason your prospect gives for not being able to evaluate your solution now, there are still ways to add value on the other side of their objection.
Script example #1:
Prospect: “We are too busy preparing for the holiday season right now.”
SDR: “That’s great — we can help you improve your checkout flow and guarantee smoother customer experiences during the busy season.”
Script example #2:
Prospect: “We are waiting for the new manager to start, and we’ll call you then. Asking a new hire to abruptly switch solutions after he starts can hamper productivity.”
SDR: “Buying now will help the manager develop familiarity with our solution and guarantees productivity.”
Script example #3:
Prospect: “We are too busy implementing SOLUTION V.”
SDR: “Great, clients like X and Y found that SOLUTION V works better when it operates in tandem with ours. Acting now will ensure you can capture this added value immediately.”
When it comes to timing objections, there’s usually a way to frame acting now vs. later as an opportunity for the prospect to get more done in the long run.
Want to learn more? Check out our ultimate guide to objection handling here.
Originally published May 29, 2018 12:37:00 PM, updated May 29 2018
Writing An Effective Prospecting Sales Script
Why A Sales Process?
The Killer Sales App
Vol. 1 Bill Caskey: Jeff…
2010 Top 10 Sales Articles…
Many people think they can just «wing it» or they «know what they want to say.» On the telephone, however, you have 10 seconds to grab and hold your prospect’s attention and frequently you don’t get a second chance.
Ten seconds goes by very quickly.
Your first impression has to be strong enough to carry you through the rest of your pitch. «Winging it» is risky and just generally doesn’t work, and «knowing what you want to say» without having actually crafted your message and practiced it can easily turn into «gee, I didn’t say that very well. «
Like the Girl Scouts, it is better to be prepared. Good telephone sales and prospecting call scripts, well-thought-out presentations that says what you want to say, precisely and succinctly, yet that still gives you room to maneuver, is one of the keys to a successful telephone pitch. This is about communication and about being prepared. In writing your prospecting script you are crafting a message and focusing your message to your prospect. Your goal with a call script is for your prospect to hear you and for your prospect to get «hooked.»
So what makes a good prospecting sales script?
Write your script the way you talk—and get to the point!
Written language and spoken language are very different. If your script is in written language you will sound phony. Real people do not speak with capital letters at the start of sentences and periods at the end. People actually speak more in phrases or fragments, with pauses, sometimes improper grammar and the occasional ah or um. It is imperative that you sound real, so if you are having a difficult time with this, try talking into a tape recorder, then playing it back and writing down what you say.
Don’t bother asking your prospect «how are you today?» or «may I have a moment of your time?» or anything else. Start by asking for your prospect by name. Then greet your prospect by name. Next, introduce yourself. «My name is (your name goes here), my company is (your company name goes here)» or «My name is (your name goes here), I’m with (your company name goes here).»
Then you want a sound bite to further introduce yourself. A sound bite is one sentence that expresses simply and succinctly what you do (or what is your product or service). Example: Wendy Weiss teaches people to get what they want over the telephone.
Your sound bite, or the following line, should position you as the expert—someone (company, product or service) who stands out from the pack. If you do this well you will preempt the objection: «I can’t meet with every salesperson who calls.»
You will not be «every salesperson who calls.» To do this, you cannot say the same things that everyone else is saying-so be creative! When I started my business there were many others providing similar services representing companies, making calls and setting new business appointments for sales representatives. Generally these people worked in-house, were not particularly well paid and were called telemarketers. Even this early in my career I knew I was not a telemarketer. I decided I was a Marketing Consultant Specializing in New Business Development. This put me in a different category altogether. I was the expert, the outside consultant hired to help develop new business.
Find a way to set yourself up as the expert. You can use phrases like «we specialize in. » or «our reputation is. » «we are known for. » You can also name-drop credentials to help this positioning. Mention clients or customers in similar businesses as your prospect. This does two things: it lets your prospect know that you are familiar with their industry and it will also make your prospect feel safer if they have not heard of you before. In addition, if someone has referred you, this is a good place to drop his or her name.
Next is the heart of many telephone sales scripts. Describe your product or service, pointing out relevant benefits.
Remember-your prospects are interested in benefits. Remember also your prospects will buy for their reasons, not yours. That is why it is important to do your research and have a sense of what your prospect may need and may be interested in.
Focus your message to your prospect and speak in their language. If your industry has a particular jargon—don’t they all?—use it. You cannot be the expert if you do not know the language. If, however, you are in an industry that has a jargon, but your prospect doesn’t know or use that jargon—speak plainly! Your intent here is communication. You want to be understood! This part of your call script does not need to be long and unwieldy—a few salient points will do. You can bolster this section with a success story, something you, your company or product did for a customer. How you saved them money, or saved them time or saved the day when they were in a tight spot. By inference, this will mean that you will do the same for your prospect. It is a terrific way of pointing out customer benefits without actually having to say «and the benefit to you, Ms. Prospect, is. » You might have several different success stories that you use depending on the type of lead on which you are working.
Your prospecting scripts are fluid. How your conversation with your prospect proceeds will determine what parts of your script you will use. So make sure to leave some maneuvering room in your call script so that if you need to change tactics, for example tell a different success story, you can easily do it. You make sure that you have maneuvering room by being prepared, knowing your customer benefits and knowing which customer benefits may interest a particular prospect. Also have several success stories that you can use depending on the point you are trying to make. And please, don’t be afraid to say the unexpected or to use humor.
Then the close. Here it is. Ask for what you want! All your hard work is worth nothing if you do not ask for what you want. Do not expect that your prospect will know what you want, or guess what you want, or offer what you want. It is your job to ask, clearly and precisely.
So, what do you want? Most would probably answer that you want to turn your prospect into your customer. You want your prospect to buy your product or service. That’s all true, but that comes later. What you want now is to get your «foot in the door.» You want to introduce yourself, your product and/or your company so that later the prospect can be induced to buy. If your prospect does not know you, is not familiar with your product or service, they will never buy it.
They have to know you exist before they will even consider making that purchase! Therefore what you want now is an appointment. At this moment you are not selling your product or your service, you are selling an appointment and only an appointment. You want the prospect to give you 10 to 15 minutes of their time, so that you can introduce yourself, your company, your product, your service—that is it! You are not asking her to buy anything or change anything that she does-only to meet with you. Ask for what you want!
If you think about the appointment in this manner, you will also realize that almost any objection to a meeting that your prospect may voice is then largely irrelevant. Perhaps your prospect already has a vendor that provides a similar product or service. So what. None of us can predict the future. The situation could change.
Besides, you’re not asking that she buy anything, you want to meet with her and introduce yourself. Period! Perhaps your prospect doesn’t use a similar product or service and says she has no need. She doesn’t need it; she will never need it. So what. None of us can predict the future, anything is possible, and one day perhaps she may.
Now I am not suggesting that you spend your time setting up meetings with people who do not need your product or service, but what I am saying is that the qualification is on your part, you actually need to decide if you want to meet this prospect. Is this prospect worth your time and energy?
Ask for an appointment—ask for a meeting. I generally like the word «meeting» better than «appointment.» It has more weight and substance. Say: «I would like to meet with you,» «I would like to introduce myself, my company, my product. » «I need 10 minutes of your time.» Be clear, be bold, be to the point. Give them some choices of times: «Is this Thursday good or would next Thursday be better?» It is easier for your prospect to choose between options, such as different dates, than to decide whether and if to schedule.
Once you have scheduled the meeting, make sure that you confirm the prospect’s name, title, and address. Also make sure she has your name, your company name and telephone number! Repeat the date and time of the meeting at least twice. You want to make sure that you are both talking about the same date. In addition, as you give your prospect your name etc. and when you repeat the meeting date and time use your voice to direct your prospect to write everything down. Speak s-l-o-w-l-y and distinctly at a pace that they can write. Your prospect will interpret this way of speaking as a direction to write. This way they too will have the meeting in their calendar and there should be no mix-ups.
Successful Prospecting Scripts
— Ask for the prospect by name.
— Say hello. «Hi! Ms. Prospect» or «Hi Jane.»
— Identify yourself and your company. «My name is ______. My company is _____.»
— Say what you do (sound bite). Position yourself as the expert. Use phrases like «we specialize in. » or «our reputation is. » «we are known for. » You can also do some name dropping of credentials here.
— Articulate benefits. Success stories are a terrific way to point out benefits.
— Ask for what you want-an introductory meeting. «I would like to meet with you. » «I would like to introduce myself, my company, my product. » «I need 10 minutes of your time.» «Is this Thursday good or would next Thursday be better?»
Keep asking for what you want!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted on June 28, 2007
About Wendy Weiss
Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling™, is an author, speaker, sales trainer, and sales coach. She is recognized as one of the leading authorities on lead generation, cold calling and new business development. Her clients include Avon Products, ADP, Sprint and thousands of entrepreneurs throughout the country.
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