Here’s the deal: Having a cold calling script is crucial if you want to be successful at phone selling today.
But most salespeople out there are totally winging cold calls, just figuring it out as they go.
This is a huge mistake.
Cold calling without a script leads to haphazard, ineffective calls. In fact, having a rock-solid cold calling script is so transformative, it can improve the effectiveness of your cold calls a ten times over. Seriously.
If it helps, you can think of your cold calling script as more of a template or structure. Either way, you absolutely need to use one.
In this video, I’m going to show you exactly how to build a cold calling script—step by step. Check it out:
Cold Calling Script Summary:
Cold Calling Script Step #1: Don’t make a cold call.
You’re probably thinking, “Wait—isn’t this all about how to build a script for cold calls?” Yes, it is. But I’m not talking about the cold calls you’re probably familiar with.
Typical cold calls are freezing-cold calls made to random people on random days, with a random approach. These calls are very unlikely to be successful, no matter what script you use. But that doesn’t mean that cold calling is dead. Actually, it’s an incredibly effective tool today, as long as you revamp your process.
Your new process should replace freezing-cold calls with prospecting calls that are part of a campaign. What you want to do is follow a systematic prospecting campaign where calls are part of the process—but you’re also sending emails, making Linkedin requests, sending packages, sending letters, and leaving voicemails.
With this approach, calls are just one part of a customized, mapped-out prospecting campaign. So before you ever get on the phone with a prospect, they already have some idea of who you are. (I have a ton of other videos and articles on the truth about cold calling.) This is the first step to building your cold calling script: Stop making straight cold calls.
Cold Calling Script Step #2: You must have a script.
Before we jump into how to build a cold calling script, step by step, I want to explain why you absolutely need one. Whether you’re making an old-school cold call (which I hope you aren’t) or a warmed-up cold call as part of a prospecting campaign (which I hope you are) you need to have a script.
I’m talking from experience. I’ve made literally thousands of sales calls over the course of my career. Scripts are game-changing.
Now, creating a cold calling script doesn’t mean you script out every single word you’re going to say to every prospect. That would be impossible. Plus, some parts of your call must be personalized, of course.
But a great cold calling script will prompt you on the best ways to approach those points of personalization for each prospect, all while giving you a solid structure to follow so you don’t get lost or distracted when the prospect throws you a curveball.
You’ll feel so much stronger and more confident on the phone if you have a script in front of you to help you stay on track.
You’ll know exactly what to do if the prospect says something you didn’t expect. You won’t be thrown off—because you’ll have a contingency laid out for common objections. So, let’s dig into it.
Cold Calling Script Step #3: Pattern interrupt constantly.
A critical key to a successful cold calling script is that it goes against the grain. I call this “pattern interrupt” and it means interrupting the normal salesperson-prospect pattern that prospects have grown to dread.
Prospects have fine-tuned radar when it comes to avoiding sales calls and getting off the phone with salespeople. To slip under their radar and get them to have a real conversation with you, you need to constantly break the pattern they expect.
One great strategy is to start off your cold calling script with a greeting the prospect won’t expect. Most salespeople enthusiastically, cheerfully say, “Hey there! How are you doing today?!” Immediately, prospects clam up. (Wouldn’t you?)
Instead, use a soft, calm tone that doesn’t give away the fact that you’re a salesperson. Say something that breaks the pattern such as, “Hey, George, how have you been?”
The prospect will be caught off guard and might even think, “Wait, do I know this person?” The data shows that simply using the phrase “how have you been” is linked to a six times increase in the likelihood of actually setting the appointment.
Cold Calling Script Step #4: Quick opening.
Your cold calling script should have a very short opening. The first 20 seconds of the call are where a lot of salespeople get caught up and fail. This is the most important part of any cold call, hands down.
If your opening isn’t short and to the point, the call will be over before it even begins. Script out a quick and concise opening that simply engages the prospect in a conversation—that’s all! No jargon, junk, or filler that doesn’t actually mean anything.
Cold Calling Script Step #5: Show you did your homework.
Prospects hate boiler-plate cold calls, plain and simple. Calls without personalization prove that the salesperson has no idea who the prospect is—and doesn’t really care.
It’s important to show you did your homework. This doesn’t take a ton of time. All you have to do is use a tool such as LinkedIn Navigator or Google to find out a few basic pieces of information about each prospect before you pick up the phone.
What department are they in? How many people work at their company? Where is the prospect located? Where did they go to college? These little points of insight make a huge difference when it comes to cold calls.
Build a cold calling script that prompts you to fill in those little bits of personalized information prior to each call so you can show you did your homework.
Cold Calling Script Step #6: Note common challenges.
Common challenges are key to crafting a truly engaging cold calling script.
Your script should already have a quick, concise opening and a bit of personalization that shows you’ve done your homework. Now you need to mention some common challenges you see in the prospect’s industry space.
Here’s what this part might sound like, “George, typically with companies like yours, I’m seeing a lot of clients that are dealing with Challenge 1, Challenge 2, and Challenge 3. Do any of those ring true for you?”
Noting those common challenges puts the focus on the prospect and what they care about, as opposed to your product or service (which, by the way, they don’t care about).
Cold Calling Script Step #7: Engage the prospect.
So many salespeople miss the boat entirely when it comes to really engaging the prospect on cold calls. This is one area where a cold calling script can transform a conversation completely.
Without a script, salespeople tend to ramble, repeat themselves, talk about themselves and their companies, or just get nervous and have trouble shutting up—all habits that decidedly do NOT engage the prospect. A script is the perfect antidote to this.
Script out a list of engaging questions you can ask prospects on the call. Get them talking. Use your questions as a structure to lean on throughout the conversation, referring back to your script when you’re not sure what to say or you feel nervous.
The only way to truly engage prospects is to ask them questions about themselves and their problems. So that’s exactly what your cold calling script should prompt you to do.
Cold Calling Script Step #8: Recommend a clear next step.
Clear next steps are everything when it comes to your cold calling script. Don’t settle for a wishy-washy “follow up in a couple of weeks” or “maybe we could get together sometime to discuss.”
It’s got to be a clear next step—and you want to recommend it directly to the prospect before they get off the phone. Once you’ve determined the conversation has gone well, it should sound something like this: “Can I make a recommendation? Why don’t we schedule a meeting where I’ll come to your office and we’ll talk further about this. I can share some best practices with you. Typically a meeting like this would take about 45 minutes. Would that make some sense?”
The prospect will either say yes or no, and then you’ll have a clear next step scheduled—or you can move on.
Cold Calling Script Step #9: Send a calendar invite.
This might sound tactical and basic, but it’s so important. Every single call that has a positive outcome should also have a calendar invite sent from you to the prospect. Before you get off the phone.
So, if your prospect agrees to setting up a meeting or a next call, here’s what your script should say: “Do you have your calendar in front of you? I’m going to go ahead and send you a calendar invite. You should get it in the next few minutes with all of the details for the meeting. I just want to make sure you look out for it. Sound good?” Now you’re in their calendar.
Calendar invites are key to making sure that you’re sustaining that clear next step—because once you’re in their calendar, they’re so much less likely to just bail on the meeting.
Every cold calling script should contain this calendar invite conversation.
So, there you have it. Now you know how to build a cold calling script, step by step. Which of these ideas did you find most useful? Be sure to join the discussion and share in the comments below.
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About the Author Marc Wayshak
Marc is is the best-selling author of three books on sales and leadership, including the highly acclaimed titles Game Plan Selling, The High-Velocity Sales Organization and his forthcoming book, Sales Conversations, Mastered.
Marc is a contributor to Inc, HubSpot, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Huffington Post Business. He also hosts a popular YouTube channel on sales strategy with over 103,000 subscribers.
Marc helps thousands of people his data-driven, science-based approach to selling that utilizes all the best tools available to sales organizations today.