On average, it takes 8 calls to reach a prospective customer/client. For those of us who have experience cold calling, that information likely isn’t a huge surprise.
When you finally get that person on the line, you want to make sure you’re prepared with the perfect script and have the best cold calling opens on lock in order to seal the deal (before you have to call back 7 more times…).
So let me start off by teaching you a little trick that is guaranteed to hold people on the line longer when you’re cold calling. Start all of your sales scripts with a healthy pause.
That’s right: don’t say anything right away.
When the person picks up… PAUSE. Count “one thousand one” (in your head, of course).
Then say: Hi! This is [your first name].
And, then PAUSE again… for longer than you want to.
These two strategic moments of silence are critical. In this post, I’m going to teach you why this works along with four other important tips to have better opening conversations on all of your cold calls.
One Tip to Rule Them All
Before I get into the specific steps that will make your cold calling opens better, I have to say this: you must be practicing your call script. Out loud.
First of all, you should have a script that you know by heart. You never know when you’ll be caught off guard when someone picks up (someone answering a cold call is generally a shock, isn’t it?) or when you’ll be shaken up by how someone speaks to you.
But this won’t affect you or your cold call if you’ve been practicing your script and practicing your cold calls consistently. And I don’t just mean reading over your script in your head. Everything always goes perfectly in your head, doesn’t it?
It never happens as perfectly as you have it written down or how you imagined it. I can’t emphasize practicing your opens and your script enough. You should role play and practice your calls with colleagues, friends, family, and anyone who will listen.
Speaking it out loud will help you get more comfortable with your spiel, see where it needs improvement, and give you confidence that you know what you’re talking about.
Can’t find anyone to practice with? You could just talk to yourself and even record yourself going through the process.
Now that I got that out of the way, let’s talk about the 5 specific steps that can improve your cold call opens.
1. The Secret of Silence
Let’s get back to the “pause technique” I introduced earlier. This technique works because it slows us down, it allows the person on the other end to take in the information we’re telling them, and it sets the call up to be a conversation instead of an obvious sales pitch.
Often times when we finally get someone on the phone, our initial instinct is to get all of our information out as fast as possible before the person has a chance to hang up. You quickly burst out with your name, company, and the beginning of your pitch.
But all this does is lead to a garbled and jumbled mess that quickly bombards the person answering. They’ll likely be annoyed, confused, and generally take in none of the information you just spewed at them.
So what do they often do when this happens? They’ll either hang up, or they’ll respond harshly with, “who are you, and why are you even calling me?”
It’s safe to say that’s not how you want to start your opening.
Instead, follow the pause technique. When the person answers, allow them to say hello. Take a deep breath and say, “Hi, this is [your name].”
This does a few things for you.
First, it ensures that your audio is working and makes sure your prospect can hear you. This also forces you to slow down, make it clear who you are, and reduces the chance that you’ll stumble, mix up your words, or talk too fast. This also helps you appear as less aggressive, which is always a plus.
It also gives the prospect the only information they need right then. Launching into a mile-a-minute spiel of your entire company’s life story the second they answer is too much too fast; they probably won’t even retain any of the information, leaving them feeling confused and bombarded with info.
By just saying, “Hi, this is [your name]”, you’ve given them all the information they need, even if they weren’t prepared to listen. Then, during the pause after your first line, they’ll also pause and mentally go through their data bank of all of the “your name”s they know to figure out who this is, which prepares them to get in the mindset for the call.
2. How to Introduce Yourself, Your Company, and Your Product or Service
You’ve paused long enough to let them process who you are and allowed them to get in the mindset for the call. Now it’s time to give some more information.
The second part of your script should be a simple introduction of yourself and your company. For example, if you were me, you would say, “I’m with Kaleidico, and we offer digital marketing services to clients to help with lead generation.”
This gives all of the important information to the prospect right away. You’re telling them who you are, who you work for, and how you can help them.
The chance of getting any objections or instant hang-ups with these first two steps is pretty low. You’re being respectful and methodical while giving the person on the other end of the line time to process what you’re telling them. They won’t feel bombarded or attacked, which are two huge mistakes many cold callers make.
3. How to Control a Conversation with Questions
With just those two simple steps, you’ve set up the perfect blank canvas on which to build your sales pitch. Now’s when you can start putting your sales script to work.
And the best way to start is by asking questions. Instead of diving in and pushing your product/service right away, you want to get the person on the other end talking.
This makes the prospect do most of the conversational work and gets them to open up (people prefer talking about themselves anyway), all while still allowing you to control the conversation.
“How are you doing today?” and “What product/service are you using now to take care of your needs?” are great general questions.
Then move into specifics. For example, if you’re a mortgage lender, ask whether they’re considering buying a new home in the future.
If you’re an insurance provider, for example, ask them how they’re currently protecting their health and/or their family to ensure their wellbeing. Or ask what’s important for them to have with their insurance plans.
These questions can (and should!) be built into your sales script.
4. The Right Way to Use a Sales Script
So I’ve mentioned this more than a few times, but let’s say it again: you must have a script.
A script is so important is because it forces you to think about your sales approach and process before you even start the call. It makes you think about the different scenarios, dialogues, and prospects that you might have.
Each call is different, and a script serves as a framework for the different types of conversations you’ll have. You may have more than one script that’s dependent on who you’re calling or depending on how prospects answer certain questions.
Creating the script is arguably the most important part of the script, since it forces you to analyze your pitch, how to best present it to prospects, and narrows down exactly what you want to say and how to say it.
But beware of following the script too closely. You definitely want the script to be highly detailed, and you definitely want to practice and memorize the script and the script outline.
But what you don’t want to do is memorize it so completely that you end up reciting it like a robot. The script is there to guide you and remind you of your pitch. It’s not there to be read verbatim like you’re reading out loud from the book in 8th grade English class.
Just as an actor does, take the script and make it your own. Inject some life and charisma into the script while still following the outline you’ve given yourself.
5. The Importance of an Objection Management Document
Objections are a part of the life of a cold caller. They’re a universally known and dreaded part of the process.
But when’s the last time you recorded various objections, written them down, and discussed how to overcome them? People neglect that practice often. They’ll write the objection off and move onto the next call.
It’s super important to take the time to work on overcoming objections.
What’s the most common objection you get on cold calls? Pay attention to the most frequent objections: what do they say, when do they happen in the call, is it dependent on who/when you’re calling, is it because of a certain question you’re asking, etc.
Write down the objections and take the time to analyze how you can respond to and overcome them. Practice your answers out loud, and encorporate objection management responses into your script.
Or you can have a separate objection management document complete with your most frequent objections along with your scripted responses.
You can also use objections to modify the script itself. If you’re always getting pushback after asking a certain question or after you introduce yourself, look into how you can reword or change something to mitigate that negative response.
Better Cold Calling Opens in 5 Steps: Ready to Go?
It sounds easy when I outline it like this, but make no mistake: cold calling opens are one of the hardest things to perfect, and you should always be working on making your opens and your script better.
Want some more details or even some examples of how I create scripts and objection management documents? Have some other questions about my 5 step process?
Leave a comment below, and I’d be happy to send you over a copy of the general outlines I use and answer any questions you have.