You have your list of names and phone numbers. Before the end of the day, you need to make 100 calls. Your sales manager has given your team a big pep talk encouraging you to dial, dial, dial.
Now all you need is a cold call script. And not just any script … the best cold call script ever.
But before I give you the keys to the castle, let's learn more about cold calling and look at a typical cold call. (If you're in a hurry, skip to the script.)
- What Is Cold Calling?
- What Is the Purpose of Cold Calling?
- Sample Cold Call Script
- How to Create a Cold Call Script
- The Best Cold Calling Script Ever
- Cold Calling Script Variation
- Cold Calling Script Template
- Cold Calling Tips
Once you have a list of prospects to call, it's time to reach out. If you've never spoken to these contacts before, your outreach would be considered a cold call.
What is a cold call?
A cold call is when you reach out to an individual you've never spoken with before, with the intent to sell them your product or service.
What is the purpose of cold calling?
Cold calling functions as a way to engage prospects one-on-one in order to move them to the next step in the buying process. In the past, cold calling meant a "spray and pray" method, spending time making intrusive calls with no prior qualification, hoping that your message would resonate with someone. With the inbound methodology, prospects are attracted by your website and/or messaging and are interested enough to "opt in" and become a lead.
While cold calls might be rendered ineffective by this model, the practice still has its place in an inbound sales strategy.
In many cases, prospects need to be compelled to act, and digital channels may not be enough to close the sale. Plus, you may not always have an abundance of inbound leads. Even as an outbound tactic, with enough research and qualification, a cold call can be executed in a way that's no longer "cold.''
So, what does a typical cold call look like in sales?
Sample Cold Call Script
**The prospect's phone rings**
Rep: Aja Frost, my name is Dan from Outbound.
How are you doing today?
I am calling about our software that helps you with the strategic implementation of your biggest problems from Outbound Company.
Is this a priority for you today?
Prospect: Actually, this isn't a great time …
Rep: Are you interested in a product demo of how we are in the magic quadrant? We have won all these awards.
Prospect: We're not interested.
Rep: Are you the decision maker? Give me two hours and we can get you going -- unless you don't have a budget.
Don't laugh. There are lots of calls like these taking place each and every day. And you probably won't be surprised to learn they convert at an abominable rate: Less than 1%.
That means if you call 100 people using this kind of script, you'll only get a second call with one of them.
Now, if you are calling your prospects and saying the same thing to all of them, essentially pushing your product -- just stop.
It probably sucks for you, but it's worse for your prospects, your brand, and your productivity.
Instead, create your own cold call script.
How to Create a Cold Call Script
If you follow this script (the best cold call script ever, am I right?!?), your connect rate will improve.
1. Identify 2-3 verticals.
First, you need to cherry-pick who you'll call. Your time is valuable — don't waste it on prospects that aren't a good fit for your product. Think about who your best customers are (or who you've had the most success calling in the past) and look for common attributes.
For example, maybe your verticals are hospitality and retail. Or maybe they're finance and banking. Once you've figured out which verticals to target, you're ready for step 2.
2. Identify 20 good-fit prospects.
It should now be much easier to find specific companies or people who could use your product or service. LinkedIn is a powerful tool that can help. Let's say you're looking for hotel companies who might benefit from your on-site goat yoga classes (who doesn't want to do Shavasana with a baby goat while they're on vacation.)
Search "People who work at hotel" and/or "General manager" with the "Hospitality" filter.
Voila -- a list of potential customers.
Bonus points if you look for local or regional companies. People love to do business with other locals, which I recently observed when I was in Birmingham, Alabama. If you're in Alabama, you want to give your business to other Alabamians. (Roll Tide!)
3. Research each prospect.
I know, I know, you'd rather just pick up the phone and call. But trust me, spending just a minute up front will make you wildly more successful. So do it!
Since you’re already on LinkedIn, check out each prospect's profile to personalize your approach. You’ll want to know:
- What the company does
- What the prospect does specifically
- If you've helped a similar company in the past
- One "fun fact" about them
Here’s one thing I never fail to do: I look up how to pronounce the prospect’s name. Nothing makes people more annoyed and less likely to listen than hearing their name butchered by some fast-talking rep, so this step is crucial.
Some people add how they pronounce their name on Facebook and LinkedIn. If your prospect hasn't added this feature to their profile, try using PronounceNames.com to get an idea.
And if you're still out of luck? Simply ask, "I want to be sure I'm saying your name correctly. How do you pronounce it?"
The Best Cold Calling Script Ever
You may have noticed you're not really cold calling anymore … You've winnowed down your list and done some homework all before picking up the phone. I promise you, my friend, this extra work will be worth it.
Now let's get to the script.
1. Introduce yourself.
First, say your name and which company you work for. You need to sound confident and energetic. I can't tell you how many cold calls I listen to that begin with, "This is mlkjdkfj from mnxcmvn."
The prospect goes, "What? Who??" Right from the start, the call is going poorly.
You don't need to yell your greeting, but you do need to articulate.
After you say, "This is [name] from [company]," pause.
This is hard for cold callers. They want to jump straight into their pitch. But I want you to take a deep breath and say nothing for eight whole seconds.
While you're pausing, your prospect is searching their brain for who you could be. It sounds like you know them -- are you a client? A former coworker? A current one?
2. Establish rapport.
The call is already deviating from the standard cold call. Then you ask them a question to establish some rapport. Your goal: Get ‘em talking and prove you're familiar with them and their company.
Here are some sample questions:
- So, [prospect name], I see you went to [university]. How did you like it?
- Wow, you've been at [company] for [X years]. How did you get started there?
- Congrats on your recent promotion. How is the new role?
A good question is topical and makes someone smile. If they seem receptive to chatting, ask them a follow-up question.
For instance, if they say, "I loved going to Cal Poly; the English department was fantastic," you can respond, "That's great, should I recommend it to my niece who wants to be a writer?"
Eventually, they'll say, "Alright, why are you calling?"
I cackle. Seriously.
They'll laugh because you're clearly having fun.
Answer, "Sometimes I forget." Laugh again.
Trust me, this always lightens the mood. (Unless your prospect is in a major hurry, in which case, you should get the point.)
3. Use a positioning statement.
A positioning statement shows your prospect that you work with similar companies and understand their challenges. You're not talking about yourself, which is what most cold callers do.
Here's a hypothetical positioning statement: "I work with sales managers in hospitality with five to eight reps on their team. My customers are typically looking to increase rep productivity. Does that sound like you?"
Since you've pre-qualified them, they'll always say "yes."
Simply say, "Tell me more about that."
Now, it's all about them! They'll explain their pain points and objectives which is valuable information to start building your pitch.
Cold Calling Script Variation
As a sales leader at HubSpot, I love assisting newer reps. I've been in their shoes and want to help them close big deals. It's good for the company, and it's good for their careers. To do that, I use a slightly altered process and script.
We have a team culture of "just ask," encouraging junior reps to reach out to sales leaders for help getting meetings with CEOs or prospects at Fortune 500 companies. Once a rep asks for my help, I ask for something in return: The website URL, the LinkedIn profile of the person and company I'm speaking with, and their HubSpot CRM record.
This allows me to quickly familiarize myself with the person and company I'm about to call. Once the phone rings and the prospect answers, I use the greeting from above, "This is [name] from [company]," pause.
If you're calling a C-level executive or even a mid-level employee at a large organization, it's likely you had to get past an assistant or front desk, which is where your senior title helped. Gatekeepers are more likely to pass along "Dan Tyre, director of sales at HubSpot" than "[Name], sales rep at HubSpot."
They'll know who you are, but they'll still be curious why you called. Keep them in suspense a bit longer. As in the script above, I'll spend a few minutes asking about them. Here are a few more questions I turn to:
- "Are you a cat or a dog person?"
- "What's your favorite breakfast?"
- "What's the hottest restaurant in [Prospect's city]?"
When the conversation turns to why I called, I say, "I called to help." This line usually stops the prospect in their tracks. Then, I follow up with, "My sales rep asked me to start a conversation with you." This allows me to easily hand the conversation off to the rep, if the conversation goes well.
From there, I use a positioning statement like the one above: "I work with sales managers in hospitality with five to eight reps on their team. My customers are typically looking to increase rep productivity. Does that sound like you?"
The pre-qualified prospect will answer "Yes," and that's when my active listening turns on and I say, "Tell me more about that." Once they've finished explaining their pain points, I repeat what I've heard back to them: "So, what I'm hearing is …" and offer to set up a discovery call.
Usually, the prospect agrees and throws out a time weeks or months in the future. I often reply with, "How about tomorrow?" Most of the time, prospects respond with, "Sure, what time?" I'll check the junior rep's calendar and get something scheduled.
Everyone wants to have a better day. By making your prospects smile or laugh, giving them a chance to talk about their problems, and showing them you might have a solution, you'll improve their days. That means stronger relationships and ultimately, more sales.
Cold Calling Script Template
Ready to start cold calling? Here's a cold calling script template you can use to get started. Download the template below.
Cold Calling Tips
- Be selective with prospects.
- Practice your cold call script.
- Focus on them.
- Do your research.
- Find the best time to call.
- Pique curiosity.
- Be respectful of their time.
- Ask open-ended question.
- Be an active listener.
- Pick out their pains.
- Anticipate objections.
- Use social proof.
- Focus on your goal.
- Have a 'close' in mind for every conversation.
- Make it easy to say yes.
- Follow up after the call.
- Leave a voicemail.
- Conduct call reviews.
- Spend more time selling.
- Remember your why.
Now that you have your script, here are some tips to keep in mind.
1. Be selective with prospects.
At the end of the day, cold calling is an outbound tactic to solve customer needs. At HubSpot, we live and breathe inbound marketing and sales and rely on our strong sales teams to close deals.
We know that a 100% inbound method might not work for your business — at least not overnight. So be selective with your prospects to mimic the success of inbound sales. That means you’ll need to get creative with who you add to your list. If you can find hand-raisers (people already interested in the product or service your company provides) prioritize calling them first. If they’re interested in what you have to offer before you call, you’ll be well on your way to closing them on the solution you sell.
2. Practice your cold call script.
While you don't want to sound robotic and rehearsed, you do want to repeat your script so you don't forget it. The better you know the goals of the script, you'll be able to think on your feet if the prospect comes back with a comment or question you hadn't planned for.
With each call, you'll get a chance to practice your cold calling script -- and you'll learn strategies to make future cold calls more effective.
3. Focus on them.
When crafting your cold-calling script, it's easy to fall into the me-me-me trap:
- "We at [Company] offer..."
- "We're the best at..."
- "I want to schedule a meeting to..."
Instead, you should be putting your focus on the prospect using "you" language:
- "Are you experiencing challenges with..."
- "What roadblocks kept you..."
- "Would you benefit from..."
Doing so centers them in the conversation, making it personalized and relevant.
4. Do your research.
Before you even think about picking up the phone, you should have plenty of information about the prospect you're reaching out to.
You should know what the company does, the prospects role at the company, whether you've worked with a similar company in the past, and any additional facts you can use to build rapport with them.
Where did they go to school? Do you know a friend or colleague? Did they recently attend an industry event? These are some rapport-building topics you can use to start the conversation.
5. Find the best time to call.
There isn't really a universal "best" time to make a cold call because every audience will have different preferences. Some schools of thought push early morning or late afternoon as being the most effective times since individuals haven't yet started their day or are already wrapping it up, thus increasing your chances of getting through.
However, the more cold calls you make, the more you'll get a feel for days and times that have the most success. Once you do, prioritize your calls and make the most important ones during those windows.
6. Pique curiosity.
Open the conversation by generating intrigue and interest. If you can get them invested in the conversation, you’ll give them a reason to keep listening.
Harvard Business Review studied curiosity in the workplace and found that curiosity correlates with less defensiveness and stress. Prospects who are curious might give you more of their time to explore solutions to their problems.
7. Be respectful of their time.
While it's important to establish rapport and start the conversation off on a positive note, be mindful that cold-calling is somewhat intrusive. You have interrupted their day, and you should get to the point quickly to respect their time.
Use your positioning statement early on in the call or make a transition like this one: "The reason I'm calling is to..."
These will signal to the prospect that you're about to be quick and to the point.
8. Ask open-ended questions.
Avoid asking 'yes or no' questions. Instead, open-ended questions will keep the conversation going, especially when asking the prospect about their pain points and goals.
8. Be an active listener.
It can be easy to get lost in the conversation, but make sure you're listening carefully to the prospect's responses. When appropriate, repeat back what they said about their company or goals. This helps you clarify what they said and shows the prospect that you truly care about what they're saying.
9. Pick out their pains.
Often, eliminating pain is more powerful at incentivizing prospects than adding value. As you get the prospect to open up about their organization, role, and situation, listen for current struggles, points of contention, or problems they may be experiencing.
This may give you an"I can help with that" moment with the prospect.
10. Anticipate objections.
The more calls you complete, the more you'll get a feel for the types of objections you'll get.
Certainly there will be some cases where you don't want to waste the prospect's time.
But for the cases where it is a good opportunity to press on, having a scripted response to handle the objection will keep you from getting caught off guard and allowing the call to come to a grinding halt.
11. Use social proof.
Your prospect identified themselves as your ideal client.
Why not guide the conversation in a way that allows them to continue seeing themselves in your offerings?
- Tell stories about customers like them.
- Use case studies that show what they stand to gain.
- Show testimonials and success stories.
12. Focus on your goal.
The goal of each cold call is to introduce yourself to the prospect and set up a discovery call with them. Remind yourself of the desired end result. This will help you stay on track as you're cold calling prospects.
13. Have a 'close' in mind for every conversation.
Sales pro Jeff Hoffman recommends always having a small close in mind for every point of contact you have with a prospect. For a cold call, that small close might simply be getting five more minutes of a prospect's time or a follow-up call for later in the week.
Before each email you send and phone call you make, identify the close you’ll use to encourage more streamlined and focused communication.
14. Make it easy to say yes.
Regardless of which 'close' you end up choosing, focus on selling just that 'close.' The more complicated you make it for the prospect, the easier it is for them to say 'no.'
For example, if the big goal is to sell a turn-key software package in the four figures but you know that your demo will blow them out of the water, just sell the demo. Make it easy for them to commit to the demo, no strings attached, and make it easy for them to schedule and show up to the demo. Don't fuss with the details about software packages in this initial step when you can deal with those details later (presumably after the demo). Doing so will plant objections in their mind before you get your foot in the door.
15. Follow up after the call.
If your prospect isn’t available to meet with you again until the next week or so, follow up with them within a day after your initial cold call. Go beyond the traditional “Thanks for your time,” and offer some valuable information that could help them in the stretch of time between your conversation and their decision about your product.
16. Leave a voicemail.
In today’s digital world, voicemails can seem like an antiquated method of communicating with your prospect, but they’re a smart way to keep yourself top-of-mind with them when they check their messages. When your prospects have overflowing email inboxes on a daily basis, stand out with a voicemail.
You can even adjust your cold calling script to work with voicemail. Remember to address the prospect by name, introduce yourself, your company, and the need you’re planning to address with them. Don’t sell in the voicemail; provide just enough information to pique their interest.
17. Conduct call reviews.
You should never let your cold call script or etiquette get stale. As your business and product or service evolves, so should your cold call technique.
On a monthly or quarterly basis, conduct a call or "film" review with your sales team. Select a few recorded (with permission) calls or sit in on a few live attempts, and have reps provide constructive feedback on what went well and what could be improved upon next time.
18. Spend more time selling.
Sales automation software is a sales rep’s best friend. Little tasks like scheduling meetings, leaving voicemails, and sending follow-up emails might only take a few seconds to do, but when you multiply that by your daily quota, you’ll see hours per week spent on administrative tasks.
Automate these responsibilities with software that can do the work for you. These platforms streamline manual tasks so you can spend more time doing something technology can’t — researching your prospects, building rapport, and closing deals.
19. Remember your why.
Cold calling gets pretty robotic pretty fast. Dialing, reciting your script, asking for the next call, and doing it all over again can start to wear on your enthusiasm, but don’t let it. When you’re struggling to make it through those last few calls of the week, remember why you love to do what you do.
Whether you keep a picture of family on your desk, an inspiring note from a colleague, or an encouraging quote from a leader, always keep your why in mind. On those amazing days where you’re closing left and right, and those slower days when you can’t quite get into your groove, your why will keep you motivated.
Cold Call Script Templates That Work
This script and these tips will help you be a more effective cold caller. Just remember that it's all about providing value. By piquing their curiosity and solving for their needs, you’ll build rapport and win prospects over, even if the conversation began "cold."
The work doesn’t stop here. You’ll need to tailor your new script to your business, prospects, and personal style. Using templates can give you a great head start.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in October 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published May 19, 2021 1:30:00 PM, updated June 11 2021