5 Steps to Better Cold Calling Opens

April 3, 2019

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.

The Pause

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.

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Hey, aged lead store fans. I’m bill rice again with another weekly edition of our sales training. Today we’re talking about cold calling and specifically that opening, so much of our day is filled with dials that don’t actually get a person, a live voice on the line. And sometimes when it happens, it startles us. So we’re not prepared or we get tongue tied or we don’t have a really good process that we’ve practiced and hone for that opening moment. And today on this video I’m going to share with you my five steps to prepare yourself to have the best opening on your cold calls so that you take advantage of every single live voice that you hear,

okay?

Okay. Before we jump into the video today, as always, I would love for you to subscribe and hit that notify button. And today I want to open with a question. How many of you actually practice your cold calling opening? Do you have a script and do you practice it in the comments below? If you do have a cold calling opening script, um, say yes. Um, and also tell me, do you practice it right? Because it’s important. We’re going to talk about that in a second. Uh, if you don’t have an opening cold call script at all or you’ve never practiced it, put know in the comments. Uh, I love to Kinda hear how my audience, uh, shapes up and it also informs how I build a future content. So let’s look at this, the a whiteboard today. Uh, and talk about my five steps, my framework for making sure that I have a really good cold calling open.

Obviously you can see I am not an artist, but that’s my best friend nation of a couple of different things that happened. One a look of surprise because I’ve heard a live voice or two, I get the hell no response. Um, and that gives me, kind of sets me off balance and then I lose my opportunity with that opening. So that’s kind of the context in which I build out my framework is one of those two scenarios is often what grip us and the reason that it gets us like that, uh, whether it is kind of the aggressive no or I just hear a voice. All of a sudden, and I’m not kind of ready for it. Both have everything to do with how prepared you are and how much you’ve actually thought about your opening script, the opening few seconds. And then most importantly, how often you’ve practiced it.

I can’t say enough how easy it is to put something on paper, how easy it is to sort of silently in your head play through it. And it sounds perfect, but when you actually get on the phone and you actually do it, it doesn’t kind of play out that way, does it? Unless you are actually practicing. I can’t say enough about role playing and practicing and training with friends and colleagues, that actual speaking out loud, using your voice and actually hearing yourself, maybe even videotaping yourself, actually go through your sales process. Super Valuable. I encourage you, when you practice open your mouth, make sure that sound comes out and don’t just play it over in your head. It’s too easy to do that way. Okay, so here’s my formula. Let’s get to it and make this quick. Um, first and foremost, this is a little trick that I heard years ago and it works perfectly.

Um, so often when we get somebody on the phone, the first thing we want to do is, hi, my name’s bill rice. I worked for Kalydeco and we offer digital marketing services to clients for lead generation and the person on the other lines like, well, first of all, and actually connect at the beginning. So I didn’t hear any your name and who are you and what are you doing and where are you from? Um, so if you just kind of run into the call like that, um, just invariably you will get an immediate objection because they didn’t hear you, what your name was. They couldn’t understand you, you didn’t enunciate the whole process very well. He just kinda stampeded into the call. And so they naturally have to object to you immediately and say, who are you and why are you calling me? Right? You don’t want to start the call that way.

So instead let them answer, let them say hello, this is really hard. But even with the best of technology, um, sometimes that connection doesn’t actually happen perfectly and your audio is kind of not coming through immediately. So one of the little techniques I do is hello, and then it’s hard, right? I just kind of count to two or three and then I say, hi, this is bill. And then again I pause, right? So two things that are going there. One, I’m making sure that they have enough time that actually my audio is going to clearly get through. I keep it simple so I can’t even stumble over my own name. I just say, hi, this is bill my first name. And then the second thing is to pause after that and to hold that, just let it linger out there for a second. What this does is a nice little mental trick that’s happening here.

Um, that person, when they hear that one, they hear your first name. It’s a short bit of information, right? So it will probably register and they’ll actually know who they’re talking to in the sense of, Oh, this is bill. Like they’ll remember that. They won’t remember. If you spit out your full name and who you work for and what you do, they’ll only capture, even if in the best of circumstances, if they could hear all of that and they were ready to listen at that moment, they probably only capture a piece of it. And so by just saying hi, this is bill, you’ve given them all the information they need, even if they weren’t prepared to listen, they’ll probably retain that in the last magic of this is they actually pause and are mentally going through their data bank of all of the bills they know to figure out who this is, which gives me the opportunity, um, to one, it seemed like I’m not being so aggressive.

Right? Cause I did pause. Right. Um, and that also gets them kind of focused and sets them back so that there’s no objection because they’re searching their database and now I have an opportunity to actually clearly tell them the next part, which is who I am, where I’m from and what I’m here to help with. Right. So I usually use my second piece of my script is I’m with whatever my company is and I help with, right? So I’m with Clyde Echo and I help clients improve the leads that they generate from their online channels, right? Something like that, right? So it makes it super simple. So I’m going to give that, hi, I’m bill. I’m going to pause and then I’m going to say I’m with this company and here’s why I’m here to help. So he immediately fill in all the blanks. Here’s who I am, here’s where I’m from, here’s how I can help, right?

So in that process, you probably won’t actually get any objections, right? Because you were slow and methodical and you gave them respect and opportunity and space. They don’t feel like they’ve been run through. Um, and you don’t just sorta jabber everything out so that they have to just forced to ask you a with an objective tone. Like, who are you? Okay, so this is the way I opened up. Now you’ve got a clean canvas on which to work. And this is where I start to build out my sales pitch, right? This is where, uh, with this canvas, then I can start to put my sales script to work. Always start with questions, right? Um, this is something that I got from, uh, a mentor of mine, uh, and a guy that I love to listen to you, you should listen to him as well. Uh, is Steli Efti, he’s from close Io, which is a great a sales CRM software as well.

But one of the things that he talked about and something that he learned early in his sales days is he was asking the question is driving the conversation, right? So instead of opening up with like all the features and benefits and all the great things that will happen if you buy my product, instead, I want to start asking questions because if you start asking questions, you make sort of the client do the work, but you’re in control of the conversation, right? Uh, it’s harder for them to object to a question. So I’m asking them things like, um, so how are you doing this today? Or, um, do you have this particular product or how are you helping to ensure that your family is taken care of, you know, uh, in certain circumstances or, um, how are you, um, thinking about your first home purchase or what is important to you in that first home that you do purchase?

Right? So start to lead with some questions. And those again should be in your script. You should kind of have a whole Little Bank of questions that are there and available to you. And then you can practice and test what that opening question is and figure out which one of those opening questions actually kind of gets them listening to the fastest. So part three of my script and framework is to then lead with questions. Uh, number four, and this is kind of what you need to have at your fingertips. You’ve heard me mentioned it a couple of different times. You need a script. So a script helps in a lot of different ways. One, it makes you think about your sales approach and process, uh, beforehand. It also makes you think about the different scenarios, uh, and dialogues that you might have, the different types of conversations you have to kind of script those out.

And I think of scripts, I say this all the time, when you’re thinking about creating a sales script, sometimes people will take it to a bad place, right though they’ll sort of script everything out and then they’ll memorize it and then they sound like a robot on the phone. I’m talking about actually taking and creating a script with a lot of detail actually. Uh, and then using that script, much like an actor does, uh, when they’re in a movie, right? They take a script that’s written out in all kinds of extreme detail, uh, but they take that script and they own it and they make it sort of feel natural to them. And so there’s some modifications, there’s some, some tones, some different approaches that they use, but, but the basic concept is intact. So that script super important. And then this last item that I’m going to talk about is one that is super important, uh, and often under utilized.

And that is your objection management document. So we talk about all the time about overcoming objectives or objections. Um, but the problem is a lot of times we hear them and we think about them or we’ll some sometimes sit down in our sales meetings and we’ll talk about them, but we don’t actually document them so that we can continually practice and review them. Then think about how we’re going to respond to them or actually document the best way to respond to them. So before you go into your first phone call or your next phone call for tomorrow warning, you should sit down and list out all of the objections that you normally get. Get a list of three to five of them even to start with, um, and put those down and then write your best answer to those, uh, and then start to practice those best answers again, out loud and on calls and start to refine one, do better documentation as to what are really the top objections, right?

Your list might actually change what you start to actually tune in and pay attention to the objections. You actually might find out that they’re the ones that you listed off in this first exercise. Um, aren’t really the kind of the top ones are the ones you get most frequently and then you’re going to find out for sure, um, all those kind of ways to overcome them that you wrote out the first time. Oh, we’ll definitely get better once you start to tune into how you handle those objections. So encourage you to do that and have that document in front of you so that you can kind of overcome those and of course practice it. So today, next step, because it’s probably the most likely thing that you have not done, I would encourage you to sit down with a sheet of paper and I can quickly write out your top three to five objections that you get on calls and write out how you think best to address those or how you addressed those in the past.

And then use that document management, that objection management, a document in the future to kind of work through that opening phase, which is when you’re probably gonna get your first and your most sort of aggressive objections. So, uh, as always, we’d love for you to comment, uh, to any questions that were raised in here. And I would love to know of these five steps, what is the one step then you’re going to take of these five to improve your cold colleague, uh, over this next week. And then again, I love for you to also tell me that you’re going to sit down and do this objection, a management

document, if you would like a copy of mine. I’m also in the comments, just say, Hey, bill, I love to have that document management checklist and I’ll get it up to you. And that way it’ll give you at least a starting point. So as always, love that you’re here, uh, encourage you to engage in the comments of course, subscribing it and hit that notify button so that you’ll get next week’s a ahead of time.

About Bill Rice

Bill Rice is the Founder & CEO of Kaleidico, a digital agency. Bill specializes in providing law firms, attorneys, banks, and emerging technology clients with lead generation strategies enabled with content marketing, SEO, PPC, and email marketing.