In The Ultimate Guide to Cold Calling Part I, we covered how to prepare mentally for a cold call, how to control your thoughts and emotions, how to warm up your cold calls and how to segment and conquer your lists.
Part II of this guide is more a collection of the best scripts and frameworks that I’ve pulled from my favorite books, blogs, and resources. I’ve done my best to summarize their thoughts, but this should be no substitute for buying the books, visiting the blogs and checking out the resources. In fact, if you’re a true student of the game and want to master sales, you should be chomping at the bit to consume as much info as you can. These are the best of the best sales resources that you should and must add to your arsenal.
With that said, let’s dive right into the good stuff. In this post, we’re going to talk about magic words and phrases for cold calling, the power of non-verbals, scripts and frameworks along with examples, how to scientifically test scripts, the best method for coaching and improving, and finally the best tools and resources to help you become a cold calling pro.
How to Have Quality Conversations Every Time
The Power of Persuasion with Non-Verbals
The moment you speak your first word, the prospect is making snap judgments about you. This is based on many delivery factors, such as the tone, speed, pitch, and volume, which is why you need to pay close attention to each.
You can think of tone as the mood, such as happy, sad, fearful, etc. The tone that you want to aim for is casual and confident. I also recommend a tone that is slightly informal. However, it does not give you permission to be unprofessional or disrespectful. Speed is pretty straightforward, but the important thing to note is to slow down! Chances are you’re speaking much quicker than you think you are. If you’re still new to cold calling, the adrenaline will be pumping, which results in talking fast. Pitch is another tricky aspect. If your pitch is too high, you sound too bubbly, too low and you sound grumpy. Aim for right down the middle. Volume is also relatively straightforward. You only have to worry about it if friends and family are always telling you to speak up. If people tell you that you’re too loud, you’ve got nothing to worry about.
The quick fix any of these vocal elements is to record your calls, pay attention to your voice, get feedback and adjust. I’m a huge fan of recording and listening to calls for many other reasons too, which we’ll touch on later.
Another way to hone your non-verbals is to listen to professional speakers, late-night talk show hosts, and product pitchmen. If you want to learn how to control a conversation and captivate your audience, these people are the best at it. Speaking from the stage is incredibly difficult, so draw inspiration from Jim Rohn, Tony Robbins, and Zig Ziglar. And don’t forget some of the most popular TED talks. For unscripted brilliance, tune into Conan, Jimmy Fallon or Jimmy Kimmel. Lastly, you can learn immensely from product pitches, like Steve Jobs introducing the Mac, iPhone or iTunes.
The Most Powerful Tool at Your Disposal
After you hear what it is, do you promise not to skip this section? Ok, good. It’s… role-playing. Were you hoping I was going to leave this out? I know, nobody likes it, and as much as I hate it, I can’t deny it’s power. If you’re truly committed to becoming a better cold caller, it’s time to suck it up and do it!
If you want to avoid role-playing embarrassment, here’s what you can do. Being by role playing with yourself. Think of any and every question, objection and circumstance that can arise, then prepare a response for each. Now, go over them in our head. Of course, you won’t be able to come up with every scenario because prospect can come up the most ridiculous objections, but this is one of the most valuable exercises you can do before cold calling.
Next is one-on-one roleplay. Do this with a trusted colleague, friend, or your manager. Let them know that it’s your first time, and though you want to grow and be challenged, don’t go too hard on you yet.
Now, the next step is the dreaded group role-play. The only way to get more comfortable at this is to do it. I encourage reps to get here as soon as possible. It’s the most uncomfortable, but also will offer the most growth. If you really want to take it to the next level, ask to roleplay with a “challenging prospect.” For whatever reason, people are more than happy to play the role of the challenging prospect.
Immediately Before Your Power Hour/Time Block
Before we get into the magic phrases, scripts and call frameworks, let’s prepare for the call. These are things you can do right now to get you the in the zone before your next cold calling power hour.
- Wake yourself up. Coffee. ‘Nuff said.
- Pump yourself up. There’s no better pick me up than your favorite song or album. Put your headphones and blast your get-up music for 5 to 10 minutes to get yourself in the zone.
- Push yourself up. I know reps who like to get their blood flowing with a few dozen push-ups at their desks. The extra adrenaline always helps.
- Lock yourself up. The new open office environment is great for collaboration but terrible for cold calls. There are few things worse than knowing all your colleagues are listening to your calls, especially if you’re new or they’re not salespeople. Having a conference room or dedicated call rooms alleviate pressure, letting you really focus on the call at hand.
Magic Words and Phrases That Open the Door and Build Trust
So far, the tips in this guide have been on the theoretical, high-level and strategic side. Let’s get to some of the nitty-gritty details. In his book New Sales. Simplified., Mike Weinberg encourages incorporating 3 magic words into your calls: visit, fit, and value.
Visit: Stay casual and relatively informal. Which is more casual: “I’d like to visit with you” or “May we please set up an appointment”?
Fit: This word is non-threatening and demonstrates you’re not in it just to close a deal and make money. Say something along the lines of, “Let’s get together and see if we’d be a good fit to work together.”
Value: Ultimately, this is what a prospect is looking for: value. If you can prove the value, you’re golden. Execution could look like: “I’d love to see if we can bring some value to what you’re already doing…”
If you can use all three together, it could be a home run: “John, I understand that you’re not currently in the market for a few outbound platform, but visit with me anyway. I promise you’ll get value and ideas from our time together, even if our product ends up not being a perfect fit.”
Here are some other phrases I’ve picked up over the years. I don’t remember exactly where they can from (apologies to the original source), but they got me some great results.
- “I’m not sure if this is the right fit for you, but I’d love to see if we can help.” Use this after you’ve asked a few discovery questions. I love this phrase because it removes the sense of desperation that most salespeople give off. Furthermore, what people can’t have, they want more, which means they could even start selling you. Prospects
- “Based on what you’ve told me, the next steps is for us to set up another call so we can...” Again, this phrase comes into play after you’ve asked a few discovery questions. This implies to the prospect that this is an individualized process, and you’re not just pushing product on them. Much of the time, people want to be lead by others who know what they’re doing, and that’s what this verbiage implies.
In a Cardone Zone podcast from late 2015, Grant offers some great phrases you can use after you deliver your value proposition. If your prospect doesn’t bite or shows hesitation, you can say:
- “Even if ½ of what I was telling you was true, would that be worth your time?”
- “What % of what I just shared with you do you believe?”
A Cold Calling Framework From Jeb Blount
I’ve referenced Jeb's book Fanatical Prospecting a few times in part II, and here it is again because it’s that good. Prospects will only give you time if you offered them value, which could be emotional and/or logical value. Here’s Jeb’s framework along with an example of how I’ve adapted it to sell PersistIQ.
1) Get their attention by using their name. Start off my saying “Hi, ,” in a warm and welcoming tone, then proceed directly to Step 2. Notice I didn’t say, “Hi, , how are you today?” or “how are you today?” because it gives your prospect a chance to jump in and disrupt your flow. Cold calls are all about taking control from the very start.
2) Identify yourself. “My name is Brandon with PersistIQ.” This is pretty straightforward — you need to tell them who you are.
3) Tell them why you’re calling. “The reason I’m calling is to get some time on your calendar.” Diving right in demonstrates that you’re a professional. Save the small talk for your follow-up calls after you’ve already built the relationship.
4) Build a bridge. This statement connects the reason you’re calling with why they should care. “I just noticed on your site that you’re hiring 10 new sales reps this quarter. Several companies in the are already using PersistIQ to help their current sales development team double conversations started and meetings booked. They are also able to cut new rep ramp time in half.”
5) Ask for what you want and shut up. “I thought the best place to start is to schedule a meeting to learn about your outbound sales challenges and goals. Do you have time Wednesday or Thursday afternoon around 10 a.m.?” Ultimately, our goal is to set meetings with prospects because we’re calling on a more targeted list. However, if you’re calling on a less qualified list, then your ask may be for a piece of information that qualifies the lead.
This should last no longer than 20-30 seconds. Research reveals that the brain can only process and hold new chunks of info for only about 30 seconds or less. Don’t overwhelm prospects because once they get to that point, they’ll completely tune you out. Say what you need to say and no more, then make the ask.
A Cold Calling Framework From Mike Weinberg
Another powerful and effective calling framework comes from Mike Weinberg in his book New Sales. Simplified. This is another book that I’ve referenced frequently so if you haven’t already, go buy it! Mike doesn’t explicitly break it out into six sections like this, but this is the way I think about it to make it a little easier to navigate and digest.
1) Introduction. “Hi John, it’s Brandon with PersistIQ. Let me steal a minute.” The phrase “let me steal a minute” is powerful because it’s casual, conversational and different. Rather than asking how they’re doing or if you can have a minute of their time, “steal a minute” acknowledges that you’re interrupting, but does so in a subtle and human way.
2) The set-up. “I head up sales development for the US.” Mike explains that the power of this phrase comes in what it will do for your own psyche. Don’t get caught up with your official title. Anyone and everyone can figure out a way to incorporate this because everyone is heading up something at their company.
3) Power Statement. “Right now, a lot of sales reps and team managers rely on PersistIQ because they need to 10x their rep’s outbound activity and double their response rates. We’re helping a lot of SaaS companies like who are concerned with focusing on the right sales activities that will drive measurable results.”
In his book, Mike dedicates an entire chapter to sharpening your sales story and crafting your power statements. It’s imperative that you take time and frame your sales story correctly. Think through who you’re talking to, what issues they’re facing, and why you’ve been able to successfully help other companies in the past.
4) Stop. It’s going to be hard to resist the natural instinct to fill the silence, but you need to let the prospect process the information, then respond. Your prospect’s response will dictate your next move.
5) Build a bridge. “I noticed on your site that you’re hiring for sales development reps. Our platform has helped countless reps 10x their productivity, which reduces the need for hiring so many new reps, saving your company money and resources.” If the prospect is willing to engage, begin the dialogue with a probing question or share relevant information you discovered on during your pre-call research.
6) As for a meeting. Ask again. Ask once more. “Do you have 20 minutes later this week to see if this could be a good fit?” You must be ready to ask three times. Mike explains that prospects are automatically programmed to say no. Don’t take it personally, and don’t give up. You must remain persistent, keep the dialogue open, and ask again. If you don’t get a yes, continue probing and offering value. Once the prospect begins to open up, go for a third ask. Most sales reps will be extremely uncomfortable with this, but once you begin to see the results, you heed this advice every time.
You’ll have to do some tweaking and testing, tooling and refining to get these frameworks dialed in for success. But once you do, it’ll become your game changer.
The Best Tools, Technology, and Resources for Cold Calling Success
The beauty of the current sales landscape is that you have the power to quickly and easily test, measure and improve everything, even something that’s often considered antiquated, like cold calling. This means you can test different frameworks, talking points and approaches so you can become a cold calling pro.
First off, you should be using a platform like PersistIQ that allows you to manage all of your outbound sales activities, from calls to emails to social selling in once place. You should also be able to view your performance metrics and drill down to determine which scripts, personas, team members, etc. are performing best.
If you don’t have an outbound platform yet or would like a closer look at PersistIQ, you can create a free account here.
With a robust platform in place, you can begin to A/B test different elements using a 5-step scientific approach. You must become a scientist to be a true modern sales pro. Here’s how you should be thinking about testing different scripts or elements within a script.
1) Set Your Goals. For the best results, you’re going to need to be as methodical and scientific as possible.
In other words, you need to make your goals SMART – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely. For example, the goal “I want to set more meetings” isn’t a smart goal. Rather saying this would meet the criteria: “In the next three days, I want to increase my meetings set by 10% calling on my CXO segment by testing value proposition A versus value proposition B.”
2) Define What You’re Testing. We’ll be using the concept of an A/B test, which essentially compares two things that have one difference (also called variant) between them to determine which performs better.
Once you’ve set your goal, you need to define what you’re testing. Change only one element. For example, if you have two different value propositions you’re testing, keeping everything else the same. Don’t change the opening statement or the call to action.
3) Test! Randomly split your list into two even groups and use value proposition A with one group and proposition B with the other group. Now call half of them
4) Analyze and Make Sense of the Results. At the end of your specified time, crown a winner. If you’re properly logging all of your activities, simply go to your performance reports or dashboard to see the final numbers.
5) Iterate and Refine.
Always be testing and refining. If you’ve conclusively proven value proposition A beats value proposition B, then move on to testing other elements, like your opening statement or your call to action.
When we’re looking at improving the performance of your cold calling efforts, it takes a methodical approach to effect real change. Investing time in scientifically testing your calling technique and messaging will pay off in the long run, but you have to start now. Data is a powerful and beautiful thing.
The Single Best Way To Improve Your Cold Calls
Record and review your calls. It’s that simple. Don’t deny it - I know how much people hate listening to their own voices, but stepping back and hearing complete calls from another perspective is another powerful thing you can do to improve. Some of my biggest learnings came from arriving at the office 30 minute early to review my previous day’s calls before picking up the phone (admittedly, I skipped many days though).
It’s even more powerful when you have a manager who prioritizes this too. It will take buy-in from your manager, but smart and effective managers won’t reject this idea. They know the power that weekly call reviews directly have on performance. One of the absolute best frameworks I’ve seen for call coaching is from Steve Richard at ExecVision.
He lays out six steps for the ultimate sales coaching process using an asynchronous coaching method.
Step 1: Each week, the rep identifies two of their own calls -- one he or she feels went well and another he/she feels there’s room for improvement.
Step 2: The rep pulls those two recordings, listens to them, and critiques him or herself on what could be improved. Self-awareness, reflection, and discovery, are critical factors for deliberate practice, which is the strongest predictor of improvement.
Step 3: The rep shares those calls with his or her manager.
Step 4: The manager listens to the calls and reviews the rep’s self-assessment. The power of this approach comes when the rep takes responsibility and ownership of improvement. Top performing reps are driven to get this kind of feedback, and managers are stoked to have engagement of this level. In fact, Steve recommends managers not give feedback unless the rep is committed and does their part first.
Step 5: The manager records feedback on the two calls.
Step 6: During the one-on-one, at least 20 minutes should be saved for call coaching. Since both the rep and the manager have already listened to the call once, you can jump right into re-listening to key snippets and diving into the feedback
For more on call recording law, check out this post on the ExecVision blog.
Of course, you can use ExecVision for call recording and deeper insights into your calls. This is some of the coolest technology I’ve seen in a while and would have killed for this kind of feedback and insights when I was in the trenches as an SDR calling for hours every day.
The Best Books, Blogs, and Resources to Further Hone Your Skills
If you know me, I’m a huge proponent of reading. I think there are very few activities that can do more for you and your career.
Here are some of my favorite books that will help you dramatically improve your cold calling game:
- Fanatical Prospecting
- New Sales. Simplified
- Smart Calling
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cold Calling
- Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling
Also, check out my complete list of recommended sales book, from sales management to prospecting to account-based selling.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many modern sales blogs dedicated solely to cold calling, but here are a few good ones that contain a lot of great information on the subject. Only Smart Calling is dedicated solely to cold calling -- you’ll have to search through the others:
Lastly, since podcasts are the new, hot thing (which I totally agree, otherwise we wouldn’t have started our own podcast), I want to leave you with some podcasts that will help you up your cold calling game. Much like the blogs, it’s hard to find a podcast solely dedicated to cold calling, but there are a few great ones that routinely cover it and skills directly related.
Check out my full list of the top 10 sales podcasts that every sales rep should be listening too, which include topics beyond cold calling.
I know the last two posts had a lot of info to take in, so bookmark this page and refer back to it regularly to keep refining your cold calling skills. You’ll have good days and bad ones too, but if you keep flexing your cold calling muscle, you’ll be able to raise your quota. The more confident you can be, the more quality calls you’re going to have, which gives you more confidence.
Stay tuned for more of the latest in outbound sales best practices and methods.
This post was brought to you by PersistIQ. Our software empowers salespeople to easily convert prospects into a qualified pipeline and create personalized outbound campaigns at scale. See how PersistIQ can help you make your own sales efforts more effective today.