Over the years, I've read dozens of cold-calling scripts. Most of them contain old, tired phrases that annoy customers and immediately put them on the defensive.

Here are six of the worst offenders--along with my suggestions for turning the cold call into a real, live conversation.

1. "How are ya doin' today?"

You don't know the customer personally at this point, so the customer realizes that you're only pretending to care how they are. Furthermore, you've only got about 10 or 15 seconds to justify why you're calling.

Better to get the point quickly: "I'm calling because…"

2. "Free estimate with no obligation"

Anybody with half a brain knows that a "free estimate" means getting set up for a sales pitch.

Rather than using the tired language of the hard sell, talk the way that people talk in the real world of business: "I'd be happy to run some numbers for you."

3. "Unconditional guarantee"

Most people know that guarantees are meaningless and that warranties, which actually do have legal standing, are always conditional.

Rather than making empty promises, provide specific information about how you make certain your customers are delighted: "Here's how we support our customers…"

4. "If I could show you a way…"

This line may have seemed like a brilliant sales pitch back in the Mad Men era, but today it sounds cheesy and manipulative.

If you want to find out the conditions under which a customer is going to buy, it's better just to ask: "What's most important to you?"

5. "Nobody can sell this cheaper"

Assuming the customer is sitting in front of a computer screen, it will take about 10 seconds to find a lower price somewhere on the Web.

Your real challenge is to establish yourself as a problem solver rather than the lowest-priced source. To do that, try something like: "We make things easy for you by…"

6. "I'll be honest with you"

This statement flags a piece of information as being important--but it also plants the seed that you've been dishonest up until this point.

Instead, make that piece of information seem important by giving it more emotional weight, like: "Here's what I really think…"

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