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What to Say and Not Say in a Cold Call Script

By Cedric Jackson, July 25, 2017
What to Say and Not Say in a Cold Call Script

Love it or hate it, telemarketing is still a powerful and effective marketing tool that any business can utilize. “But everyone hates telemarketers, Cedric...” Really? Everyone?

The fact of the matter is that telemarketing is, on average, more effective than any online marketing strategy, including email and social media marketing. The percentages of positive responses really do rival other methods. That said, it can also kill your business if you go about it the wrong way.

The wrong way includes a number of things, several of which I will get to in a few minutes. The big one, though, is automation. Telemarketing is one area of marketing wherein automation is never your best friend (in any area besides dialing). Automate your email lists. Automate your social media posts. With telemarketing, you have to keep it real.

The ones who understand this one simple rule are the ones who see results from telemarketing. There will still be a lot of “no’s,” but you'll get more “yeses” if you go about it the right way.

So let's put a positive spin on this and look first at some of the things you should do.

Always Say/Do These Things

#1 – Always Be Prepared

If you do use an auto-dialer, enact a policy wherein your agents are always at the ready to take the call. Get caught by surprise, and you just wasted a lead. If you are outsourcing your call center personnel, be certain to vet the company adequately and actually read over the policies, training materials, and employee guidelines. Only contract with a company that sets the bar high for responsiveness among its reps.

#2 – Maintain a Positive, Friendly Demeanor (But Don't Overdo It)

The best cold call scripts are the ones that come off as natural. You want the conversation to be as smooth and simple as possible. If you wouldn't say it in conversation, don't put it in your script. This is not the time to turn into the grammar police. We all know that we speak much differently than we write. Writing has rules that conversations don't. You're writing a conversation, not a speech.

#3 – Go Off-Script When Appropriate

You can give your reps (or your agency) guidelines on the types of subjects to poke during a conversation and also those you wish to avoid. You should also compile a list of common objections with appropriate responses that jab the prospect's pain points. Within the realm of those responses, you want spontaneous, unscripted conversation to happen. The more your reps ad-lib, the less your prospect will feel like he or she is being read to or talked at. No one likes or appreciates these things, so learn how to smooth over the edges (or hire a professional copywriter or custom writing agency to help you).

Avoid Saying/Doing These Things

Now let's look at the deal-breakers (and telemarketing has a few). These four are the ones that will lose your prospects and leave you eating a dial tone the fastest.

#1 – Long Sentences

Again, you don't want your script to come off like... well... a script. Save the long sentences for your promotional materials, particularly explainer videos. Right now, you have just a few very small bursts of time in which to convince someone to take the next step. That next step could be escalating the call to a sales rep or even getting a commitment to buy.

Saying less creates the illusion in the prospect's mind that he or she is the one controlling the conversation. It is easier to make a sale when the buyer thinks he or she is the one making the decision.

As a side note here, you should definitely have some good content at the ready that holds the prospect's interest once the call is over. You also need to make that content easy to consume. If you don't think you're going to get the sale, ask the prospect if you can add him or her to your email list. You will typically get a lot of positive responses, even if the prospect is agreeing to it just to get you off the phone. At that point, it is your job to nurture that lead with great content.

#2 – Using First Names without Permission

You cannot assume that you have a good rapport with a lead right off the bat. Especially with older prospects, a little respect goes a long way. Shy away from the “buddy” approach and understand the concept of boundaries. If you wish, you can ask permission to use someone's first name, but don't assume it's just OK. For lots of people, it isn't, and you just alienated them in your effort to befriend them.

#3 – Mirroring

I'm not sure why this is still a thing, but many telemarketers still do it. Stop repeating back everything your prospect says. It's annoying and many people receive it on a spectrum that ranges from being mildly irritated to feeling as if their intelligence is being insulted.

Listen, respond appropriately, and only mirror if you need clarification or want to get the caller to commit to a few specifics. “When you say you dine out occasionally, what do you mean? How often is ‘occasionally?’”

#4 – Information Overload

When you think you have people on the hook or they have made a commitment to buy, don't follow up by keeping them on the phone for 10 more minutes while you deliver a dissertation on your company, product, or service. Seal the deal and send all the “welcome” info via email or snail mail (depending on the business). A follow-up call a few days later is also appropriate. Let your new customer consume the elephant a bite at a time.

Final Takeaway

While I know that some of this information may seem a little unconventional, I believe that following my advice here will help you avoid some of the pitfalls built into convention. Remember that all your marketing efforts need to have a sense of cohesiveness, so approach cold calling in a manner that reflects your overall marketing and branding strategies, and always remember to be genuine in your approach.


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