Contrary to some beliefs, calling is still the best way to engage a potential customer. The simple reason is that this is more personal than sending written communication, you can project your personality across during a call, you can gage a prospect’s reaction by their tone and you can gather information much faster than you would waiting for a reply to an email or InMail. In this age of selling you also have to consider how many emails and/or direct messages on social channels potential buyers are receiving each and every day compared to the number of calls. To differentiate yourself from your competitors pick up the phone and engage with your prospects on a personal level. Leave the emailing to following up, supplying additional information or sending calendar invites for when setting up a more in depth conversation or video conference call.
Why Write a Script for Your Calls
Not everyone agrees with scripting when it comes to cold calling, which is crazy in my opinion. A script for cold calling is a must have for any organisation and this must also be included in a company’s Sales Playbook. A script supplies a foundation of how calling can be done and it’s especially important for new hires. When an SDR, BDR or Sales Executive joins a new company having a script for them to practice with will allow them not only to learn about a company’s preferred approach faster, but will help build their confidence almost immediately.
Some say that having a sales script makes sales professionals sound robotic. If a sales rep was to read the script word by word without practice, then yes this would probably be the case, but this is not the aim of scripting. The idea of a script is to give the sales rep(s) guidance when calling. They practice until they no longer need to read from the script and then adjust it as they adapt to the role and speak with more prospects. Practice makes perfect as the saying goes.
The best argument of why scripting works is this: an actor or actress receives a script for a movie or tv series, right? And then you watch the movie or series and do they sound robotic? The answer is no, and the reason for this is because when they get their script they practice, they practice many, many, many times until the words flow naturally and then they improvise during filming, they add what they think will work and if it works then this makes it into the movie or series. This is the same for call scripting, remember scripting is just the foundation on which calling is built.
Know your Target Market Before Getting Started
Before you start creating your script you want to make sure that the prospects you’re attempting to contact are the right fit for your organisation, but also that your product or service will be of value to the potential buyer.
Make sure you have clearly understood what your ideal customer profile is along with the buyer personas and your company’s value proposition as these will all be paramount when creating a successful call script.
The Four Key Elements When Writing a Call Script
When developing your call script there are four sections you want to cover. Let’s look at these individually.
You don’t want to rush the introduction by talking too quickly. Speak slowly, clearly and confidently. Make sure your approach is professional, remember you’re not speaking with a colleague or friend, you’re approaching someone whose time is valuable and whose participation is crucial to hitting your goals.
Your introduction is simply your name and where you’re calling from, but you don’t want to sound to forceful as to drive them away nor do you want to sound soft and unconfident. Make sure you relax before making the call, smiling while dialling can help set your mood and tone of talk.
Example: Hi John, my name is Ben from the Sales Playbook…
The value statement is the most important part of your script as this is where you provide interest to the prospect so they want to prolong the conversation. The aim here is to entice the potential buyer rather than talking about your company, products or service and scaring them off.
By knowing your target market you can add in points of value that will peak the interest of your prospect. Think about how your product or service can help them improve their business or alleviate specific problems? How have you helped similar companies resolve issues or improve productivity? These are a couple of examples, but hopefully you get the idea.
You should be able to find solid value adds from your customer stories, testimonials or white papers. Keeping up to date with industry news and any triggers for specific companies or verticals is recommended. Take a look at your prospects social channels as well, is there anything professional or personal of note on their profiles that can be used to jump start a conversation?
After you have grabbed the attention of your prospect, you’ll want to open up and prolong the conversation further in order to get to the next element. The best way of doing this is to have your open-ended questions prepared around your value proposition. My article Open-Ended questions: The Key To Discovery can help when formulating the questioning here.
Example: I noticed on your website that you’re hiring for three new SDRs. We have been working with (relevant company name) and their development team and have increased the meetings they book by over 25% in the last 60 days. Our framework has also cut ramp up time for new hires by 50%…
Once you have successfully gained the prospects’ interest you then want to make sure they are a potential customer for your organisation and you’re a potential provider for them. Having a set of qualifying questions ready or knowing what information you need to extract from the prospect is important and a qualification acronym is a great way to remind sales reps of what information they need to gather. My article Frameworks for Lead Qualification can help further with this section.
Example: What is your main goal for increasing your development team?
Always have a next step arranged with your prospect. In many cases a prospect will request for you to send information around what you have discussed, once you have agreed make sure you get a commitment from them to follow up on a specific date and time to go over what they thought of the information you provided.
An ideal outcome would be that you arrange an appointment where additional time is agreed in order for you to talk with the prospect in more detail, which can be done by phone call, video conference or face to face. If you’re an SDR or BDR then booking an appointment for your aligned Sales Executive will be the preferred outcome. Do not be afraid to ask for commitment from your prospect, they can’t say “yes” or “no” if you don’t ask them the question.
Example: Absolutely, we can certainly support your development goals. Let’s arrange a date for a 30 minute call to see how we can create a framework specific for your prospecting needs. How does Thursday at 11am fit with your schedule?
How to approach the call
There will be many suggestions on how to approach a cold call, some will say to go in with your introduction and then pause for a response, but personally I think this can be detrimental to a call. Pausing can be effective in other areas of selling, like some closing techniques as an example, but not during a cold introduction.
The best approach is to go in with a confident introduction, tonality is key and smiling while dialling can help set the stage. Once you’ve introduced yourself lead straight into your value proposition. Jason Bay Co-Founder of Blissful Prospecting said very well “The longer it takes you to introduce yourself and the reason you’re calling the more stressed your prospects become.”
Once you have grabbed your prospects’ attention with your value proposition you can then extend the conversation by asking open-ended questions which will enable you to begin to learn important information around your potential buyer. Remember to listen and then respond. Call conversations should have at least a 55:45 ratio in favour of listening and not talking. The more you get your prospect to talk the more you can find out and as the conversation develops you bring in your qualifying questions and then listen again.
Aim to bring qualifying questions into your open-ended questions as well. You want to make sure that your prospect and you are not wasting time if you aren’t the right fit for each other. Once you have qualified the prospect and ascertained that you are a good fit for each other, you’ll likely discuss how your solution fits their needs and if the prospect is interested you will move onto discussing the next step. Make sure you provide information and a date to follow-up or a confirmed date and time for another phone call, video call or face to face.
Sounds straightforward and it can be with the right script, practice, script adjustments, practice and repeat until you have something that feels natural and works for you.
Why Cold Calling Works
There has been many articles written and social media posts around cold calling and how this is a “dying art” or that “cold calling is dead”. It’s true that success rates have been dwindling over the past few years but this is mainly due to companies choosing to go down the emailing and/or social selling route and focusing their sales training around these activities. With these activities increasing, potential buyers or clients will be flooded by increased numbers into their inboxes or direct mail boxes, which will mean an increased number of these written communications being deleted before they are even opened.
By calling you will be doing something that many competitors will not be and in doing so increase the likeliness of engaging with your target market. Many experienced salespeople still swear by calling and are claiming that it’s more effective now than it has been in many years. You’ll see by the statistics below that this is true and that organisations that are using this method experience more growth than those who don’t.
- Organisations who believed that cold calling is no longer effective experienced 42% less growth compared to those who believed otherwise (source)
- 92% of successful customer interactions happen over the phone (source)
- A cold calling report revealed that 27% of sales representatives believe that cold calling is still extremely effective (source)
- Successful sales representatives makes an average of 33 cold calls every day (source)
- 3 out of 4 managers say they can take action from a cold call alone (source)
- 69% of buyers have accepted a cold call from sales professionals this year (source)
- B2B cold calling statistics show that 57% of C-level executives prefer being contacted by phone. The same goes for 51% of directors and 47% of managers (source)
- Making at least six cold calls can increase contact rates by 70% (source)
- 93% of potential success of a cold call is attributed to the tone of voice during the conversation (source)
- Stating the reason for your cold call early can boost success rates by 2.1 times (source)
Don’t Worry About The Worst Outcome
Cold calling isn’t easy, approaching customers who may have not heard of your company or solutions before is tough. But it can also be exciting as you turn a cold lead into a potential hot prospect and then into a new customer. This can only start by making contact and the quickest way to build a strong pipeline of potential sales is by picking up the phone and speaking to them.
What’s the worst thing that can happen, they hang up on you? That shouldn’t bother you, they are not hanging up on your because they don’t like you as an individual, maybe they were having a bad day, maybe your value add wasn’t successfully explained on that occasion. There could be many reasons for the worst case scenario, but it really shouldn’t be a scary outcome. If they hang up on you, don’t be afraid to call back again. Leave it for a day or two, chances are they won’t remember you have called before.
Top sales performers know that rejection is a part of the job. They simply shrug off any negative reaction, learn from their failures and keep trying. Don’t fear the worst case, become a top performer!
The art of cold calling is difficult to master but not impossible. Like any cold outreach you want to start by having a good idea of which individuals will benefit most from your product or service. Then you want to put more effort into knowing what your prospects want to hear and when is the best time to reach out to connect with them.
You want to make sure that any relevant information is updated in your CRM, replace outdated information with fresh up to date data, add in additional contact channels like mobile numbers, personal email address, etc., and any notes from past contact attempts or discussions. Information is key and the more current your data the easier it will be to craft valuable messaging to your specific prospects.
Cold calling is one of the most frustrating tasks for sales professionals. There will be a lot of rejection, there will be a lot of voicemails, there will be gatekeepers that will have been told not to put sales calls through, but with the right mindset, persistence and constantly tweaking your scripts until you become a natural conversationalist, you will qualify prospects quicker, build better rapport and exceed your targets more regularly.
“Success is not accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing”
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