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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.
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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 upon 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 their time and an understanding that your phone call is not the only thing on their plate for the day. You may feel that asking this question sets you up to hear a "no," but don't worry: Whether they say, "Yes," "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 they initially responded to you, rather than rescheduling 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 them at another time.

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 their resistance, and brings down their 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, lets talk for a few minutes to determine if there is anything we're doing that you could benefit from.

Explanation: This statement opens up a dialogue so that 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're respecting their time, and that you're not going to keep them on the phone.  This tells the prospect not to assume that the call will drag on for eternity.

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, 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 own mouth.

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Last updated: Jun 19, 2012

GEOFFREY JAMES

Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.




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