Many people want to believe that cold calling doesn't work because they don't want to have to get on the phone. Indeed, there are many ways to do it wrong and fail. Many cold callers use deceptive tactics to get through and leave a bad taste in buyers' mouths.
Does that mean it’s impossible to build a trusting relationship with prospects through cold calling? Absolutely not. In my experience, and that of the business developers I've worked with, cold calling, when used correctly, is a key way to break into corporate accounts and begin a relationship. In fact, the death of cold calling is one of our 5 common sales prospecting myths.
Cold Calling Scripts
In short, successful cold calling scripts follow a five-step approach:
- What’s in it for me?
- Call to action
- Propose time to meet
- Deliver on the value offer
Each of these steps is geared toward the benefits you can provide to your prospects. Buyers want a clear value proposition and solutions to their problems. Here are three proven cold calling scripts that have helped businesses break through the noise and set appointments with cold buyers.
It is important to note that these scripts are never read word-for-word—prospects can smell this kind of rookie mistake from a mile away. The script is a starting point and the best business developers internalize these scripts and make them their own.
(Please note: While the actual names of the companies and short descriptions of the businesses have been removed, and some details have been changed, these are introductions actually used by business developers to engage new corporate relationships.)
Cold Calling Script #1
My name is John Smith and I’m with Widget Co., we're a <insert type of company>.
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...
- Protecting their global shipping operations and ensuring continuous cash flow
- Achieving the best possible efficiencies by connecting all <blank> disciplines
- 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 Widget Co. on March 23.
Cold Calling Script #2
My name is Jane Smith and I’m with Global Manufacturing Inc.—we're a <insert type of company>. As a part of that work, we've just completed a benchmark study where <industry> firms rate over 350 major suppliers in areas critical to deciding who they'll do business with.
What we've been doing as a way of introducing ourselves is share with some select suppliers survey details specific to you:
- How (company name) rates on six critical success factors
- Where your competition stands in relation to you
- What areas you can focus on that will have the greatest impact on increasing your share of wallet
That's it. Even if you decide not to pursue this any further than this first meeting, at least you'll have valuable intelligence as a result.
What does your calendar look like next Wednesday or Thursday?
Cold Calling Script #3
My name is Jane Smith, and I'm calling from Smith & Jones. We're a <insert type of company>.
The reason I am calling is to schedule a brief meeting to review the findings of the work we've 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's 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'll 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?
How Do You Cold Call Effectively?
Let's look at why these scripts make for an effective cold call.
At the onset of the call, introduce yourself and provide a brief overview of your company (one sentence, not a 20-second elevator pitch). You should be able to introduce yourself, your company, and your company’s value proposition.
In some cases, you can also tell a story to get a potential buyer’s attention. For example, one business developer used his interest in wine to get past the gatekeeper at a company that sold products and services to vineyards and interact with the decision maker. Just make sure whatever story you’re telling is crisp and concise.
2. What's in It for Me?
Once you have a prospect’s attention, it’s important to keep conversation brief and to the point. Always remember to keep the prospect’s concerns at the forefront. The more you focus on their situation and how you can improve their business, the more likely the person will want to continue the conversation.
In these scripts, you immediately move to the WIIFM (“What’s in it for me?”) and pitch a value-based offer. This isn't "an introductory meeting" where you go in and pitch a sales presentation on your clients, services, and successes. It's a meeting where you share your expertise and insights and apply them to the prospect's situation.
Let's assume you're a Chief Strategy Officer at an $800M manufacturing firm in Ohio. Someone calls you and says, "My name is John Smith and I'm a change management consultant. Do you need change? Let's meet." Chances are, your immediate change needs probably won't include John Smith.
But let's say John calls and says, "My name is John Smith. The reason I'm calling is because my company, the ABC Consulting Group, has just recently conducted a major benchmark study on how manufacturing businesses—including Competitor 1 and Competitor 2 of yours—in the Midwest are succeeding with their labor unions in the face of global outsourcing. There are 3 practices that are working across the board and a few that fail most everyplace. If you're interested, we'd be happy to come by and take you through the results."
If this topic is on your mind, you might risk a 30-minute meeting to hear the results. Or you might have some questions right then and there. Either way, John has presented his cold "introduction" of himself and his company in a way that delivers value.
Not everyone will take you up on a meeting. But if your target list is well segmented and clean, a number of prospects will. When you get in front of prospects, the topic of conversation should be your recent research, work, and expertise—not a "get to know you and sell you" meeting.
A conversation about recent research is just one of many potential value propositions for the meeting. You might not want to present research because it might not be the best entry for you. But if your offering is worthwhile, a conversation with you should be able to offer something of strong value.
3. Call to Action
There's a simple, non-threatening call to action. You're not going to make a sale on the first call, but you might schedule a 10-, 20-, or 30-minute teleconference in which you share your valuable insights and further explore their concerns. This will also help position you as an expert and thought leader in your field.
Other next steps include forwarding information kits and following up via email. Regardless, find a way to continue the conversation and be sure to follow up.
4. Propose A Time to Meet
When you get near the end of the call, you close with asking the prospect to look at a specific time on their calendar. This turns the question from being one of yes/no to being one of when.
5. Deliver on the Value Offer
In the introductory meeting, you deliver the best practices, benchmark research, and findings you promise in the cold call. The pitch isn’t a sales presentation in disguise, but a conversation where actual challenges and advice are shared. Use these 50 powerful sales questions to develop rapport, uncover needs, and deliver insights.
Tips For Effective Cold Calling
Beyond emulating the structure of these cold calling scripts, there’s plenty more you can do to increase the chances of turning a call into a meeting.
1. Research Buyers and Customize Your Messages
Buyers want to know you’ve researched them and know their business. Research their field, understand what’s important to them, and tailor your cold calling script to include these findings. Keep any insights current and relevant.
2. Adjust the Goal of Your Calls
At the start of the sales process, you aren’t selling your offering, you’re selling time. You must ask yourself what would make it worthwhile for the buyer to take 20 minutes, 45 minutes, an hour, etc., to meet with you.
Take the relationship one step at a time. First, intrigue the buyer with your expertise and provide value in your conversation. Then you can work on uncovering needs, sharing your value proposition for what you sell, and discussing potential opportunities to work together. There are no hard rules for when to move from one stage to another; this comes with experience and your ability to lead strong sales conversations.
3. Ask Yourself, “Then What?”
Before making the call you must be ready to have a peer-to-peer conversation around business issues facing your buyer. These conversations appear as though they'll end in two minutes with a yes or a no, but can often go for 30 minutes or more. If you can't be conversational without a script in front of you, you shouldn't be making the calls. You can’t prepare for every possibility, but you can give yourself the thorough knowledge of your prospect and how you can help them. No two calls should be the same.
4. Use Multiple Touches and Methods
It takes more than a single call to generate a meeting with a buyer. According to our Top Performance in Sales Prospecting research, it takes an average of 8 touches to secure an initial meeting (or other conversion) with a new prospect. Don’t give up after two, three, or even five touches.
Cold calling is important, but campaigns that include multiple touches and multiple offers over time break through and stay top of mind. Don’t forget to use email, social media (especially LinkedIn), direct mail, and other methods.
Cold Calling Myths
Cold calling may be an important part of prospecting, but many still believe that cold calling is dead. This is—in part—because cold calling is easy to do incorrectly.
Often, sellers justify not cold calling by trying to compensate with other methods. Some might even insist that there are more powerful ways of building your client base, such as giving speeches, publishing articles and books, and leveraging your network.
If you can employ these tactics, great. But many of these tactics are out of reach for the average seller, and it might take months for leads to materialize from a seller’s writing or network.
Another fallacy surrounding cold calling is the connection between a seller’s number of closed deals to cold calling success. In many cases, sellers aren’t as good at closing as they think they are, and don’t meaningfully stay in touch with prospects after they meet with them.
Not every meeting you set will result in a pipeline opportunity. But if you can figure out how many of your prospects turn into wins, you can calculate how much outreach is necessary to meet your goals and turn cold calls into revenue.
From Cold Calls to Warm Prospects
An extraordinary script and value proposition with a mediocre business developer will go nowhere. An extraordinary business developer, adjusting their value-based pitch along the way from direct prospect feedback, will get meetings with top prospects—without having to resort to deceptive tactics. Which do you choose to be?
Cold Calling Is Only the Beginning
Get stats on what works and what doesn't in prospecting with our research report, Top Performance in Sales Prospecting.