There are quite a few critics who say cold calling is dead. And if you've ever been rudely hung up on during a prospecting call, you might be inclined to say this is true. But, while cold calling can be difficult—it can be effective with the right scripts at your disposal.
Warm Up Your Cold Calls
As stated earlier, the more cold calls you make, the more opportunities you can unlock. Of course, this statement must be clarified because there is also a difference between quality and quantity. You don't want to make 100 ineffective cold calls, thus, burning 100 bridges.
In fact, a reason why cold calls can fail is simply this: they can be too cold. There isn't any question that it can be awkward asking strangers for favors and information.
What do you do? Well, to achieve cold calling success, you must warm up the cold call. Instead of viewing them as cold calls, look at them as informational calls.
The purpose is to find out who the decision maker is and how to get a hold of that person or group. The call should be both casual and friendly. You don't want people to get the impression that you are trying to sell them something—if so, they will quickly hang up. Instead, you want to help them so they help you.
So, approach the cold call with a friendly, consultative, and even a bit vulnerable tone. The goal is to set a tone that makes others want to help you. Don't just charge into your sales script.
Ask for permission. You can ask, "Do you mind taking two to five minutes to chat about <target's professional field or a specific challenge>?" This approach increases your chances of warming up the call. the answer will be yes. If it is no, ask for a better time when they might have five minutes.
Here are a few tried-and-true sales scripts from eventualmillionaire.com to help you go on a fact-finding mission with the gatekeeper. If you wanted to find out a decision maker's name, here is how you might converse with the gatekeeper:
Hello <first name>,
was hoping you might be able to help me out here… <wait in order to engender attentiveness>. I’m looking to connect with the person in your department who manages social media marketing. Do you know who that might be?
George Hernandez does? Fantastic, thank you so much.
As you can see, this is a simple script that anyone can replicate.
The reason it can work is because the gatekeeper probably wants to get off the phone, but there is nothing wrong with giving a name. You may now ask to be put through to George Hernandez, or call back with the right name in hand.
Another option for getting the right person on the phone would be to use this straightforward script:
Hello, <first name>,
my name is Ben. I need some help. I looked on your website but I couldn’t find your name. Are you the one who usually answers the outside line? I’d feel much better if I knew your name before I asked my favor. (pause)
Ok, Donna – thanks. I’d like to speak with your boss. How can I make that happen?
Based on the gatekeeper's response, you can tell how willing they are to help you. Certainly, they would know how and when to reach their boss. By keeping things friendly, and asking for help, you put yourself in a better position to receive useful information.
Do Plenty of Research
When it comes to cold calling, it is much better to be over prepared than under prepared. Decision makers expect calls from sales people, and often, their gatekeepers are trained to field or block those calls. So, when you do have an opening, you need to make it count.
You must understand your prospect, their business, their professional background, their industry, their needs and how your product and/or service can help address any pain points they might be experiencing.
The good news is much of this research can be performed online quite easily. You can subscribe to and read industry trade publications. You can research your prospect on LinkedIn.
You can also pore through the company website and look up any related news pieces and press releases. In your sales role, you might be assigned an industry, a location, or both. Either way, it helps to segment prospects by industry.
Then you want to study the issues within the industry and eloquently convey how your company can alleviate those issues. The more you understand their industry, the easier it will be for you to have a meaningful and relevant conversation. The last thing you want to do is to come across as speaking of terms that you are not familiar with.
So, research is truly critical. Then, you might try one of these two scripts from rainsalestraining.com:
My name is Jane Smith, and I'm calling from Smith, Smith & Smith. We are a <insert type of firm>.
The reason I am calling is to schedule a brief telephone meeting to review the findings of the work we have been doing on what makes the biggest difference in <topic area> for leaders who are looking to <do something specific that benefits the company>. It is fascinating stuff, especially since in the next ten years there will be <an important industry dynamic that you need to attend to>.
If you're interested, we'll even make some recommendations as to what areas to focus on that will make the biggest difference in your particular situation.
It's fascinating intelligence, and I was hoping you might have some time on the morning of Thursday, June 6 or anytime in the afternoon during the week of June 22. What would work for you?
My name is John Smith and I am with Smith, Smith & Smith, we're a <insert type of firm>. We've been scheduling brief phone calls to introduce ourselves and share best practice information. We'd like to tell you how other <industry> companies are <include value propositions like>.
- Protecting their global shipping operations and ensuring continuous cash flow.
- Achieving the best possible efficiencies by <doing X>. Using <our client's special expertise> to create competitive differentiation and capture market share
The information will give you a framework for assessing your situation at <company name>. I'm wondering if you'd like to talk with me and one of the partners here at Smith, Smith, & Smith on March 23.
Of course, you want to tailor the script to fit your particular need and points of discussion. It helps to keep these types of templates on hand for use at any time. Plus, the more times you use the scripts, the easier they will roll off your tongue as you may even start to speak straight from memory and repetition.
Nonetheless, implementing effective cold calling techniques means you must sound natural and not robotic.
Every Call is a Cold Call
Remember this: every call is a cold call when the client or prospect is not expecting to hear from you. So, even if you have spoken to the decision maker before, you might bring up a new topic of discussion.
There is no need to fear cold calling when you think of every call as an opportunity. After every call, focus on what you did right. Still, you want to ensure you are in a quiet place. You might even choose to stand to get your blood flowing and to give you more energy.
In terms of effective cold calling, your job is to get their attention so that they are focused on what you have to offer. Then, let them talk and listen actively. Prospects want someone who will listen to their problems first. So, that is exactly what you must do.
Here is another cold calling script you can use from Keith Rosen, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cold Calling:
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?
As you can see, the salesperson identified themselves then gave a quick overview of the purpose of the call. In addition, the salesperson asked for permission.
Tailor this script to your speaking style and line of products and services. These are cold calling techniques that really work. Yet, above all, never sound like you are reading from a script.
Practice the script so that the words can come out naturally. Keep rehearsing until it feels like it’s a part of you. Then, when you ask a question, let the prospect talk. You want to have a two-sided conversation.
Cold calling is not the most fun activity, but it can an effective tool in your sales toolbox. Plus, it feels pretty great when a cold call works. With practice and the cold calling scripts above, you'll be able to keep that phone from hanging up right away more often.