Hi, [pause] mmmm… this is Joe from ABC company… [long pause] mmmmm I’m calling to… mmmmm…. I’m calling because…. Oh! Never mind! [hangs up]

Does this sound familiar? Most reps had at least one embarrassing call like that. And many will receive at least one over the course of their professional lives, no matter the industry they’re in. 

Let’s talk about the key to success in your cold calling effort — the cold calling script!

Cold Calling Scripts Do We Even Need Them?

According to Jessica Broom and Qualtrics “78% call center managers said that getting reps to “follow a script” was a primary focus, but only 38% of scripted calls were actually successful.” This information might seem to provide a definite answer to the above question. 

However, we believe that the success of a cold call heavily depends on whether you have a good or a bad script. The latter will not only be inefficient but can also be damaging for your brand. However, a good script can help achieve several important goals and tackle important issues.

Why are some salespeople against scripts?

1. Reps might sound robotic

When people recite a memorized text you can often tell — same as when they read. Prospects perceive such calls as mass outreach, impersonal, pushy and salesy.

2. Scripts are one-way ‘conversations’

Reps with scripts don’t talk — they give a speech. Next, comes the silence and the prospect hangs up. 

3. Scripts are rigid

They kill an SDR’s creativity and ability to tackle unexpected situations.

Have you ever driven a car at night and accidentally caught an animal in your car lights? If yes, then you must know that animals can’t escape the narrow lit path unless you turn off the lights. 

Something similar may happen when a rep uses a bad script and is taught to follow it strictly. As a result, SDRs don’t rely on improvisation and don’t leverage the natural flow of a conversation.

 Ways to tackle the major cold calling scripts problems:

1. Robotic speech is a two-dimensional problem. 

On the one hand, there are SDRs who should work on their voice and pronunciation. There are several suggestions for them: 

  • roleplay various conversation situations, 
  • record yourself and listen to the mistakes,
  • practice acting and theatrical improvisation.

On the other hand, a copywriter can tackle many of “robotic” or as they’re also called “scripted” issues early on. Here are some suggestions for them:

a. Make shorter sentences

It’s general advice for any copywriter, however, when it comes to scripts it’s exceptionally topical. A good sentence for an email or a blog is never longer than two lines. A good sentence of a script is twice as short. Few people use long sentences in their speech.

b. Make the right word choice 

Use shorter words for the same reasons as described above. Don’t use recherché and Daedalian words and phrases because few people use them. Don’t use a too complex wordplay to get your message through. Don’t add a new meaning to the words.

Here’s an example: “Can we breadcrumb these as Anna points out? I like this idea…”

Our CMO has a journalistic background and his active vocabulary is as voluminous as Oxford or Macmillan. When he talks, most of our employees including would Google some of his idioms. And though it’s always great to learn something new, attempts to understand a rare idiom or complex wordplay require additional effort — something you can’t expect from a busy decision-maker.

c. Use informal words (e.g. probably -> prolly) and slang. It sounds ‘human.’

d. Use humor wherever appropriate.

e. Don’t use too many modifiers and adverbials in a row

They make your sentences long, dull, marketing-ish and ultimately will cause your prospects to zone out.

Example: CIENCE is a human-driven machine-powered B2B lead generation appointment-setting company that provides impeccable contact data lists of high-quality leads with the highest deliverability on the market.

Boom! Your prospect has just lost touch with you.

Tip: Apply de Saint-Exupéry’s principle. 

The great narrator and pilot of the 20th century said that “perfection is achieved where there’s nothing left to take away.” Read your script and think what words you can remove without sacrificing meaning, then lose them.

f. Talk to a friend.

Try a mental exercise: imagine that the prospect is your friend and you want them to become your client. What would you tell them? Write it down. You will obviously use simpler words, shorter sentences, slang, maybe a joke or two. It’ll sound more natural than a long marketing text.

g. Learn from public speakers

If you’re a fan of TED Talks, you can take the script of one or two of your favorites to see how they build sentences.

h. Leverage the power of mistakes

Automation made our business processes almost impeccable. That’s why nothing looks more human than a beautiful, innocent mistake.

At CIENCE, we love collecting prospecting practices, both good and bad ones. One of the greatest email send-out tricks that we recently saw was an instant follow-up from an SDR. She sent an email and deliberately forgot to add something there. So she followed-up in a minute, apologizing for the mistake.

It really looked like it was all about the recipient because when a mass send-out is going, mistakes usually remain unspotted and unfixed.

Note that just including a mistake in your script isn’t enough. It should be acknowledged by an SDR in the conversation in a playful and joyful manner. It’s very pleasant to talk to a person who permits oneself to make mistakes and has a healthy reaction to them.

2. One-way talk.

There’s only one way of turning a monologue into a dialogue. Include questions into your script. And provide answers to these questions that lead to the main goal of your conversation — setting an appointment.

Here are some examples:

QA
Our clients usually face two problems. They don’t meet their quota, or their ROI isn’t satisfying. Which one describes your situation best?You know lead gen ROI is a real pain… especially for your type of business. It’s hard to find potential clients and reach out to them. Have you ever tried to outsource? No? Why? Yes? And?
What were your key growth challenges in 2019?Oh, I see. You know 73% of our clients working in {industry} faced the same problem in 2018. Like {big brand client} for example! It can be helped, you know.
Do you feel that your sales performance stands in the way of your business growth?Oh! That’s rare! How do you attain your sales goals? Aha, sounds interesting. Do you think they can perform better?
Just a quick question. In your opinion, what is the best way to attain {goal}?What about {solution 1}? Have you ever considered this option?
If you were able to increase just one KPI of your team, what would it be? What if you could increase 3 KPIs at once and spend less?… oh, it is possible

And so on and so forth. You’ll need both open-ended and closed-ended questions.

Tips:

  • Talk to a sales manager and ask what would be a good question to a prospect.
  • Write a sales pitch and try to turn it into a question.
  • Take a look at the KPIs, Goals, challenges of your Buyer Persona. Rewrite each as a question.
  • Learn more about your client base, find similarities and calculate some percentages.

3. Rigidity

Again, there are two things you can do:

a. Sales managers should train SDRs to play around the answers of the prospects rather than stick to the script.

b. Copywriters should create algorithmic scripts rather than linear ones. It’s similar to programming a chatbot or writing code for software. A perfect example would be Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch or a pen-and-paper role-playing game. Remember, you’re the game master here, but you need to take into account as many probable reactions of a prospect as possible.

A good script vs. a bad script — Cold Calling Malpractices

Summing up the above-said and adding some general suggestions to prospecting content, we can discern a good script from a bad one.

BadGood
Me-message (our company, our product)You-message (your company, your needs, your goals, your challenges, your KPIs)
Focuses on the description of the general benefits of a product/serviceFocuses on the prospect’s goals, challenges, KPIs, needs.
Impersonal/massPersonalized/customized
Monologue (95% talking)Dialogue (talking to listening ratio – 55% to 45%)
Long complex sentences, long and rare words, ‘marketing language’Short sentences, slang, simple informal words, ‘sales language’
Linear: contains only a sales pitchAlgorithmic: contains all the conversation options (what to say in different situations)
RigidFlexible
Sounds salesy or marketing-ish, scripted, unnatural, and roboticSounds like a business conversation, a talk with a friend, can be funny and have faults

Of all the above aspects of bad and good scripts, in the present article, we haven’t discussed Me- and You-messages yet. If you have read other blog posts of ours, you might’ve come across this definition. Anyway, it’s worth to repeat it here.

You-message and Me-message denote a focus in your content on either your prospect or yourself respectively.

Take a look at these two scripts. Can you define which message is Me and which one is You?

Message AMessage B
Hi, Jack. This is Andrew from CIENCE. We are a top B2B lead generation company according to Clutch and one of the fastest-growing companies in the US in 2018 according to Inc.5000. CIENCE provides lead generation services to companies across 100+ industries helping our clients to build a predictable pipeline, improve lead generation ROI,  increase revenue, and ultimately attain business growth goals. Hi, Jack. This is Andrew from CIENCE. [speak with sheer amazement and adoration in voice] I was studying your product recently and noticed one interesting thing. In my opinion, your potential buyer will be a company with $1M+ in revenue. [pause give them time to process it and reassure cheerfully] Yep!*. [pause, sigh, sad, sympathizing voice] But for some reason you don’t have (m)any clients like that. [pause] Is it because you don’t target them deliberately? Or maybe your attempts fail?* Another option: IMO, you have all it takes to win customers with $1M+ in revenue. [pause] Yep!

You don’t need a degree to know the answer. 

Upon reading/listening to Message A, a prospect will learn the basics of CIENCE branding. What can I say? We are a cool company and as a marketer, I will never stop boasting about my firm.

Upon listening to Message B, a prospect will learn something really painful about their company: an opportunity that seems to be slipping through their fingers this very moment. It may be something they already know about themselves and are currently thinking about. It might be something entirely new to them as well, yet not less painful.

Message B will get them by their guts. Message A is irrelevant because nobody cares who you are until the later stages of the funnel when they consider your firm as a provider.

Unfortunately, most prospecting content is Me-message, not You. And that’s the reason it fails so hard.

Tip:

Read your script and ask yourself: “Who is the main character of this piece? Whose story did I just read?” If it’s about your brand, rewrite it.

Analyzing cold calling scripts

Take a look at this example of a script that we found online (top of Google SERP, actually):

Let’s take a look at the mistakes:

  1. The second sentence contains 48 words. Forty-eight, Carl! Four lines. A full-fledged paragraph, that is.
  2. Too many modifiers (“online, on-demand, virtual sales training programs”)
  3. The whole paragraph is a great example of Me-message.
  4. Describes the benefits of the product without regard to the prospect’s real needs.

There’s one more thing that we haven’t discussed yet, but we can say it’s a mistake too. This script tries to “sell” two different services at once. Thereby it adds the informational load on the listener (a busy decision-maker whom you’ve just interrupted with your call).

What can be done about it? Take CIENCE. Like many other companies, we too have different services and solutions, but in our prospecting efforts, we always focus on one of them. 

For example, our SDR makes a call to talk about a prospect’s sales pipeline. She, however, says that they receive 98% of leads via inbound and they don’t want outbound at all. 

Thanks for sharing, Kate,” says our SDR. “Some firms like yours don’t use outbound. I can understand why. They still leverage the opps provided by CIENCE. For example, {company like prospect’s} bought our Inbound SDR package. And you know what? They increased their ROI by 10%. Does that sound like a desirable goal for you?

Back to the script. Let’s try to rewrite it focusing on the prospect and on one service (training programs):

“I want to share a stat that blew my mind. You know that 35% of Sales Heads have no clue what measurable improvements they seek from sales training. Amazing, isn’t it? I mean how can you become better if you don’t have a KPI for that, right? By the way, do you think your company is among those 35%?”

(if no)

Glad to hear that! Can you please tell me what measurable improvements does your company seek from training?

(If they list)

Sounds reasonable. I work in sales training myself. And I’d like to say that it’s a really powerful list. Have you attained them?

(if no)

Oh, I see. Have you ever tried to hire a professional?

Cold call scripts benefits

1. Easier Training

It’s hard to call without a script. It’s even harder to train without it. The algorithmic structure of a script provides many role-playing options for an SDR. As a result, reps practice not only to deliver the message but also to ask questions, leave a voicemail, offer to connect over the phone at a more convenient time, listen to objections and answer them.

2. Being prepared to your call

You know what they say: the best improvisation is the prepared improvisation.

At any given moment in your business conversation, you should be the one that leads, not your interlocutor. To achieve this, you should always know what to say to your prospects. That’s what a good script gives you — a skeleton for your conversation.

3. Confidence

When you know what to say next and when you feel you’re prepared for any objection or interruption.

Elements of a cold calling script

There are many opinions on what the parts of a cold-calling script should be.

For example Sales Scripter suggests the following:

  • Value Statement 
  • Pre-Qualifying Questions 
  • Common Pain Examples 
  • Building Interest Points

According to Hubspot, there should be 4 parts:

  • Introduction
  • Rapport
  • Positioning statement
  • Appointment setting.

CIENCE suggests:

1. Introduction + building rapport

Don’t spend too much time on introducing yourself, instead focus on building a rapport. We suggest talking about things related to the prospect, e.g. a recent event, company’s achievements, etc. You can either ask a question or praise some achievement. It can also be a question/questions that prepare the prospect to the next part of the conversation.

2. Key message

AKA “The reason why I’m calling you.” We discussed it in great detail above.

3. Pre-qualifying questions

You need to write 5-10 questions that will enable your SDR to collect sales intel for the upcoming appointment and generate value for the prospect.

Types of questions by form:

We suggest keeping the following ratio:

  • 1-2 disjunctive questions.

You have tried outbound prospecting before, haven’t you?

  • 2-3 closed-ended questions.

Were you satisfied with your previous provider?

  • 4-6 open-ended questions.

In your opinion, why was this approach inefficient?

How many sales managers do you have?

Types of questions by content:

Challenges

On a scale from 1 to 10, how efficient is your current sales development strategy?

Goals

What kind of companies do you wish to target?

4. Value building

This part should contain several examples of value that SDRs have already generated for various types of clients. However, this is the most creative part of the cold call that copywriters have the least impact on. It’s up to the SDR or sales rep to build an individual value for the interlocutor based on the answers to pre-qualifying questions.

5. Conclusion

It’s appointment setting or a promise to send an email or make another call

This is the call-to-action part. You need to thank the prospect for their time and agree upon the next steps.

Every part of the script should contain several possible prospects’ reactions and ways to respond to them (algorithmic structure).

Apart from this, your should include into your cold call script:

  • 5-10 canned responses, 
  • 5-10 objection handling answers,
  • a voicemail script.

Personalization and cold-calling scripts. Buyer Persona.

Personalization has two layers: The first one is customization. Every script should be customized by a copywriter to fit a certain ICP. The second layer is personalizing, carried out by an SDR who collects sales intelligence prior to calling.

Customization is based on ICP and Buyer Persona. If your marketing department did their job, you’ll have a very detailed Buyer Persona and your task will thus be easier. Take a look at this example model:

Buyer Persona Model: Personality + Working Environment + Buying Behavior

Use the Personality part to better understand what kind of people you’ll be talking to through your script. The Working environment part is important to understand what keeps your prospect up at night. You’ll know their “guts” and how to get them.

Finally, the Buying behavior component will give you the keys to writing canned responses and objection handling part of your cold calling script.

You can also include “raw” personalization. For example, you can build your script around some stats of a prospect’s company that can be easily found online by an SDR. In this case, you can include the phrase {look for the stats on the Internet} and your SDR will do it.

Summary

Scripts are an important part of cold calling. They help SDRs train, be more confident and know what to say in any situation that happens during the call. A good cold calling script should focus on the prospect, their needs, challenges, and KPIs. It should be personalized, written in short sentences, and sound nothing like a marketing text on your website.

Anastasia Voitehina
Content Writer at CIENCE

Anastasia Voitehina is a Content Writer at CIENCE Technologies. She creates passionate articles, witty infographics and smart charts dedicated to B2B Lead Generation. Anastasia also records the company's history and writes inspirational stories about her colleagues.