My first job, which I started at age 12, was delivering newspapers. Making money meant knocking on every door in three apartment complexes and asking the person that answered to subscribe to the paper. Knocking on doors is a real cold call.
A few years later, I worked making cold calls to community organizations to ask them to do a bike-a-thon for a popular charity. I was the only person to book an event, and by the time I quit for a better job, I had booked two.
When I joined my family’s business, I was provided a cold call script. Even though I wasn’t hired to be a salesperson, I was told to call companies when I wasn’t busy, which was most of the time. The cold call script was four index cards. The first index card was the script, and the following three were responses to the objections I was expected to hear.
I don’t remember what the cold call script said, but I remember that the first person I called hung up on me after telling me to call him back when I didn’t need a script. I called him back and told him I didn’t need the script, and I booked a meeting.
When I moved to Los Angeles, I worked as a recruiter for one of the largest staffing firms in the United States. Even though I was in an operational role, I made cold calls when I wasn’t recruiting. I won more clients than the three poor salespeople in my office. When I returned to Columbus to recover from brain surgery, I rejoined my family’s business as a sales rep.
Our cold call scripts went something like this:
Good morning, [Client Name]. My name is [Your Name] with [Company Name] and I am calling you today to ask you for a meeting to tell you about how our company can help you with your staffing and learn a little about your company. What works better, 11:00 on Tuesday or 2:00 PM on Wednesday?
As awful and self-oriented as that might sound to your ears, it worked well enough. I won very large clients with that script, and it allowed me to grow the business from $3 million to $7.8 million in a single year. However, this is a legacy approach that isn’t nearly as effective as it once was.
Evolving Sales Strategies
As sales strategies evolve, the current approaches fail. Eventually, I struggled to book meetings with the script I was using, and I tried different things to improve my cold calling results. My contacts were busy and no longer wanted to learn about my company and how we could help. We are experiencing this evolution now, even though many sales organizations are failing to transform.
Over time, I changed my cold call script into something that was other-oriented, making the meeting about the client, instead of my company and our offerings. That seemed to improve my results, but it was still hard to get a meeting. Not long after that, I started offering clients two risk reversals, promising them that they would gain something of value from the meeting.
The Best Cold Call You’ll Ever Need
This script has helped me win enterprise-level deals, and I believe it will help you do the same.
Good morning, [Client Name]. My name is [Your Name] with [Your Company], and I am calling you today to ask you for a 25-minute meeting to share with you our Q2 executive briefing on the four trends we believe will impact [the outcome you create] or [the client’s industry] in the next six months. I’ll also share with you the questions we are asking and answering with our current clients. Even if there are no next steps, I’ll leave the slide deck with you so you can share it with your team. What does your schedule look like Thursday at 2:00 PM?
Let me explain this strategy, so you understand it well enough to execute it. First, always tell your client who you are and why you are calling. Skip the “How are you?” and “Is now a good time?”
By offering an executive briefing, you present yourself as an expert and authority, something we call being One-Up. What’s most important here is that you are trading value for the meeting, meaning you never have to say anything about your company in the first meeting. This script also hints that you know why your client has problems or will soon; six months is a short time. It also suggests that your clients have questions and you have answers.
There are two risk reversals in this cold call script. The first is the request for a 25-minute meeting. That’s short enough that it makes it relatively easy for the client to say yes to a meeting. The second risk reversal is that they will get to keep the slide deck to share with their team, even if there is no next step. This is central to their trading time for value.
I often watch sales organizations create rich content and email it to their prospective clients instead of using it to get face-to-face meetings. I also see sales organizations ruin first meetings because they haven’t yet recognized that improving their results means evolving how they sell.
The executive briefing allows for a better first meeting because it creates value for the client. The reason salespeople fail to get a second meeting is because they failed to create value for their contacts.
Your Best Cold Call Script
If you came here looking for help booking first meetings, this script will help. Practice any script you use until it feels natural to you. If you can rope another salesperson into role-playing, you’ll improve your confidence and competence. Prepare yourself well by going to the contact’s LinkedIn profile and the company’s website, so you can tailor your information. Then, send me a note about the meetings you book with this script.