Set Appointments by Using the Perfect Cold Call Sales Script

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If you’re prospecting or setting appointments on the phone on a regular basis, creating and using a script helps control the outcome.

In an online marketing forum, a woman recently expressed concern in using a script. She felt it might make her presentation sound too canned. She wanted to sound conversational and felt that reliance on a script would keep her from being spontaneous.

A sales script is not something you read. It’s also not a crutch to use because you don’t completely understand your product or service.  It is something you craft, practice and perfect. The woman above was right in wanting to sound conversational.  Like a good actor, each time you get a prospect on the phone, you speak your part as if it’s the very first time you’re saying it. But, you have to know your part so well that if the person on the other end of the phone throws you a curve ball, you can quickly adjust and get back on track.

A script crystallizes the exact words that work to get a positive response.

Now, how do you write a great script?

Consider the key reason someone wants what you’re selling. (We’re talking about benefits here, not features.) Try condensing that into one sentence.  That should be the first thing you say after your quick introduction.

Here’s an example: It’s a well-known fact: Unhappy customers are more likely to complain and post negative comments about companies. A couple years ago, to counter this, a company developed an on-site customer review service that included supplying programmed iPads to clients who could then hand them to on-site customers.  The customers would enter their comments and these comments would automatically go to various social media sites … helping companies capture the more elusive positive feedback.  The initial push started with phone calls to a specific industry to set appointments. It did not go well. It was hard for the company to quickly introduce the concept and explain it before the prospect lost interest and hung up.

The solution was a script that skipped most of the details and cut right to the benefit. “Hi, Bob, how are you this sunny Tuesday? Jennifer (their receptionist) mentioned you’re the person who handles marketing for your company, is that right? ……  Great! Well… quickly…. The reason for my call … I work with MarketingB, a company out of Portland that has created an iPad product that enables you to maximize all the positive feedback from your happy customers, while they’re still in your office … so rather than letting them walk out the door with the promise that they’re going to tell everyone they know …. you hand them an iPad and get them to jot down all those positive comments and then those comments are instantly uploaded to Facebook and any other review sites in your industry….  Our owner, Bill, will be out and about next week near you, and would be happy to stop by and demo the software if you’d like to see how it works.”

The key components of this script are:

Introduction: Who you are and who you work for. In the example above, the company was not well known, so it was important to add a point of reference, e.g., the type of product.  

Reason for the call: You have something that will benefit them. In the example above, it’s capturing positive feedback. Try to be visual. In the example above, it’s the description of the missed opportunity — their happy customer walking out the door.

Feature tied to the benefit: How this works: In the example above, it’s an iPad that captures positive feedback.

Qualifying: Asking questions to find out if the person you’ve called has the money to buy what you’re selling. In the example above, we didn’t do this because we were calling a specific niche market. If this were necessary, we could have said something like this: “To see if this might be something that would work for you, can I ask you a couple questions?  Do you have a website? Are customers posting reviews there?” 

Set the appointment. “Is there a time next week that works for you?”

A couple additional little tips:

  • Be conversational. People don’t always speak in complete sentences. They pause while they’re thinking about what they’ll say next. They get excited.
  • Adjust your script if it’s not working. Sometimes one category of prospects will respond to a script and the next won’t. Adjust. Change a word or two. Pause. Ask a question. Pay attention to where you’re losing people. (If they’re stopping you mid-sentence or you’re getting a negative response, it’s time to adjust your script.)
  • Use the word “quickly” or “briefly.” People want to know that you’re not going to keep talking. And do that – be brief.
  • Pause. Contrary to old-school telemarketing practices, let people talk. Pause. Don’t make them interrupt you. If they’re stopping you mid-sentence, it’s because your script is too long, it isn’t front-loaded with benefits, or they really don’t need your product.
  • Have some questions planned. If the prospect listens and says no, consider where you’ll go next. In the example above, you might ask if they currently have any way to capture customer feedback. You could also mention how a couple of your customers have used the product with success.

Clearly no script works every time. Not everyone is interested in your service or product. But, you must condense your key benefit into a sentence that captures your prospect’s attention long enough for them to at least understand what you’re pitching. And, be sure to ask for the appointment.

Agree? Disagree? Add your insightful comments here.