Cold calling is probably the hardest thing to do in sales, and conditions in the market post-COVID-19 haven’t made it any easier. Cold calling isn’t naturally designed to make you successful, so sales development reps and sales reps need as much help as they can get to overcome obstacles and objections. That’s why cold-calling scripts can be so handy.
The purpose of a cold call is to land a meeting, from which point you can really sell your potential customers on your value proposition and get the sales process moving in earnest. There are a number of specific things that sales reps can do during a cold call in order to increase the likelihood of a scheduled sales meeting.
Of course, no two sales reps have the exact same approach, and no single sales script will be perfect for every style. That’s why we’ve put together two cold-call scripts that cater to two distinct rep types. One will suit more methodically minded reps, and the other is for more improvisatory reps. Both of them should empower your sales team to sharply increase scheduled meetings per cold call.
The Fundamentals of Cold Calling
You’ve got to know the fundamentals of cold calling before you can think about coming to grips with a template.
Cold calling is defined as any unsolicited sales call. After rigorous prospecting to determine the companies (and decision-makers/gatekeepers) to approach, your sales reps will pick up the phone. Sometimes they’ll have to make multiple phone calls to reach your potential customer; for that reason, voicemails and cold emails are also important tools for outreach.
Effective prospecting is key to successfully scheduling meetings through cold calling. Cold calling with poor prospecting will make the process a repetitive slog. Increase your understanding of which prospects are likely to want your product before you’ve even made the first sales call. That way, half of the battle is won before you’ve even said hello.
Leads can find your company through inbound or outbound means. Inbound prospecting involves enticing your prospects to your site using methods like content marketing and SEO. When they register interest on-site, you know they’re more likely to be receptive to a cold approach.
On the other hand, outbound prospecting is when your sales development pros actively pursue potential leads through channels such as Google, LinkedIn, or other social media. Cold emails are also a form of outbound prospecting.
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Some Cold-Calling Facts
At Chorus.ai, we analyzed over 1 million cold calls using sales engagement products such as Outreach. We found a number of interesting statistics that can inform your cold-calling efforts.
The average duration of all connected cold calls is just over a minute—not everyone likes being cold-called! But the key to a successful cold call is to ensure that you have a longer conversation.
Only 10% of connected cold calls last more than two minutes, which means it’s difficult to craft a long conversation. The best cold-calling team strategy and coaching process need to focus on how to have longer, more meaningful conversations.
The average successful cold call (that resulted in a longer discovery meeting) lasts 7.5 minutes. This suggests that longer conversations are closely correlated with success. How do you make conversations longer? The secret clearly lies in how you use the first few minutes of the conversation. Are you interesting, intriguing, and likable on the phone? Can you build rapport with your prospect? Do you have an interesting story and some soul-searching questions that make the prospect reluctant to hang up and get back to their computer?
The answer to all these questions, of course, must be yes. And cold-call scripts are handy for helping make this happen.
The Science of a Cold-Calling Script
The logic behind having a cold-calling script is to make it easier for reps to hit all the marks required to turn initial contact into a scheduled meeting. Along with building rapport, it’s necessary to use a cold call to identify customer pain points and cement your prospect’s idea of your value proposition. There’s no point in trying to advance a deal with a customer who straight-up doesn’t need your product.
Asking open-ended questions to get your prospect to open up is a key component of any cold call and can be scripted to powerful effect.
Here are some examples of effective open-ended questions:
- What are your main priorities right now as a business/a [professional]?
- What do you see as the main problem you’re trying to solve at the moment as a business?
- What would the ideal solution look like to you?
- What information do you need or what KPIs do you consult before making a purchase?
The point of these questions is to allow your prospect to fill in gaps in your knowledge so you can tailor your sales process to their needs and pain points. Needless to say, sales reps can’t be entirely passive on a cold call. Sales reps must be handy with follow-up questions to move the conversation along smoothly, and they must able to deal with common objections. Strive to make your product’s impact on the prospect’s bottom line and everyday processes very clear from the get-go.
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Turning Best Practices into Scripts
Phone calls might still be where the sales action is even post-COVID-19, but cold calls are intense environments which managers need to help their sales team handle with effective scripts.
Good sales managers will operate from the understanding that not all of their sales team members are alike in skills, disposition, or preferred processes. Not all sales reps will have an identical relationship with a sales script. As Nancy Nardin, founder of Smart Selling Tools Inc. and a co-founder of Vendor Neutral advised:
“If you've been told to use a script that doesn't feel like you, find a way to make it more natural to you.”
The first will suit process-driven reps, as it’s composed of a series of methodical steps that they can repeat on one call after another. The second will be better for reps who do their best work in a more spontaneous manner and are excellent at building rapport; in other words, they typically don’t like using a sales script. But this template provides a framework that will let them work freely without neglecting the fundamentals.
The Systematic Cold-Calling Script
The systematic cold-calling script is effect for reps who are skilled at executing within clear bounds. It will allow them to attack calls effectively and swiftly, resulting in a higher volume of successful calls and successfully scheduled sales meetings.
The script runs as follows:
- Begin by, in effect, excusing yourself for impinging on your busy decision-maker's time. Nancy Nardin says that "Can I have 20 seconds to tell you why I'm calling?" is a great way to get started on any sales call.
- Use your LinkedIn research to spark a conversation. Has your connection just switched jobs? Or have they just been promoted? Bring it up, and use it as a bridge to build rapport. A shared professional connection is an instant rapport builder.
- Position your product and yourself, communicating who you are and exactly what you’re after:
- Ask if now is a good time for a quick call to establish things. Success may require that you call back at a more convenient time. Don’t underestimate the value of callbacks (and voicemail!) for advancing a deal.
- Give an elevator pitch of your product, which is clear and concise enough to allow your prospect to decide whether this is worth their time. Be clear on your product’s objective: to streamline process, to drive conversions, etc.
- Establish an understanding of your prospective client’s main pain point(s). Your research should have made it clear how your product might be of use to them. Demonstrate this knowledge—sales reps shouldn’t be afraid to carry on a monologue during sales calls—and the ask for clarification and elaboration.
- Go back and forth as much as necessary along these lines to build a clear picture of your prospect.
- Ask your prospect whether they’ve had any experience with similar companies. Your product’s unique value proposition will come out best when placed in comparison with your competitors. Demonstrate how your product improves against industry benchmarks, what bottom-line impact it’s had on your existing clients, and what everyday life looks like with it.
- Presuming your prospect finds this all very exciting, arrange a follow-up call to begin the discovery phase. Setting it for the next week following the call tends to be ideal. This allows your gatekeeper to make any required clearances on their end without losing deal momentum.
- Reach out with a supplemental follow-up email and a calendar invite to cement your meeting time.
Aside from being a better fit for reps who are steady performers, the systematic sales script is also good to apply across your sales department when you’re trying to keep things level. If you’re looking to standardize the sales approach across a narrower variety of potential customers/industry vectors while maintaining high call volume, then a similarly standardized cold-calling script could be the answer.
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The Freewheeling Cold-Calling Script
While some sales reps will thrive on consistency, others may chafe at the level of repetition. They may find that it’s just too restrictive for them personally or that the prospects they deal with are too varied for a single, more stringent call script to be effective.
In such situations, reps may excel with a more open-ended approach to cold calling that emphasizes personalization and relationship-building. Post-COVID-19, more and more business owners and CFOs are joining calls. In light of that, and in light of relationship management’s centrality to ongoing SaaS success, it can also be a great option.
The script follows this general format:
- Reps using the freewheeling script can afford to begin their cold calls the same way as those on the systematic plan. All cold callers need to maximize the value of that key 20 seconds after their decision-maker picks up the phone.
- More improvisatory sales reps may do particularly well at building rapport. They may feel freer, in this case, to spend more time on the rapport phase:
- If the potential customer is receptive, this can really increase the likelihood of a sale. This can be especially important post-COVID-19. You need a champion at your target company to help sustain momentum in the sales process. Mastering active listening and other rapport-building techniques is easier with the help of Chorus.ai solutions like Conversation Intelligence (you can plug it right into your Zoom or Salesforce software!).
- Invite your potential customer to speak at length by asking a couple of open-ended questions about their situation. Then, establish your understanding of their pain points by probing their sentiments rather than rattling off a list of preplanned questions. As long as you emerge with a sense of their main pain points and how you can address them, the method is unimportant.
- Present your product in a reactive manner. Wheel out great product statistics—the drastic increase in engagement, the higher conversion, and the retention rates your current customers are seeing. Do so in response to each of your customer’s answers instead of letting them stand by themselves.
- Presuming you’ve bowled over your customer with your charisma and interesting product, arrange a follow-up call to begin the discovery phase. Again, setting it for the week following the call tends to be ideal, allowing your gatekeeper to make any required clearances on their end without losing deal momentum.
- Reach out with a supplemental follow-up email and a calendar invite to set things in stone.
Aside from letting your looser sales reps do their thing, the freewheeling cold-calling script is particularly good for personalizing your sales approach. You may find yourself having to cut more personalized deals post-COVID-19, particularly if you’re dealing with small businesses that are eager but cash-strapped. This warmer, less formalized sales script can help you understand where your customer really sees value in your product. A personalized package can also seem more like a gift than a sale, and that’s a boost to your vendor-client relationship that could pay rich dividends long term.
A Little More Conversation
According to our data, only 10% of connected cold calls last more than two minutes. That means it's difficult to prompt a long conversation. The best cold-calling scripts, cold-calling team strategy, and coaching processes need to focus on how to have longer, more meaningful conversations.
Having a plotted course through your prospective conversation can make this an easier bet. Whether your reps prefer to go through each stage in a systematic fashion or use mix-and-match scripts based on natural conversation, a few demands of cold calling remain identical: Active listening is the most important rapport builder, whether your reps’ general approach to rapport is outgoing or more subtle. Most importantly, you need to tell the story of your company with your product, not your product alone.
When you’re talking with someone, talking about them makes for engaged company and fruitful conversation. It also makes for more productive meetings, better relationships, and business success.
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