From the November 2012 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

October 24, 2012

Cold Call Rewrite

Fix your script to get better results.

I wrote about cold calling in my September and October columns and asked readers to take my survey. Here’s the most poignant of 142 answers I got to the question, “What is the most difficult part of the cold calling process? Please describe in detail.”

”First: Getting a list of potential qualified individuals. Second: Getting the person to answer the phone. Third: Getting their attention with something relevant to their situation. Lastly: Getting the appointment. In other words ... all of it—I am not having success.”

My respondent’s analysis of her situation is quite perceptive. She has grasped that cold calling (or any marketing) is composed of many elements, and that to be effective, you have to control them all.

According to me, to solve something as big as 142 cold calling problems, it’s best to take the biggest problem first, break it down into its smallest parts, and then solve each of those. The first thing I did was classify each problem. For instance, “knowing how to reply to rejection,” “getting over the rejection” and “facing rejection” all belong to a rejection category.

After making several passes through my data, I identified these problems. The problem count is shown in parentheses.

If we add together the categories related to scripts, we get 62 of the 142 people reporting their biggest problem is with their script.

In this space, I cannot completely deal with solving “the script problem.” So, for those who are serious, I will present a free two-hour webinar, “Script Writing the Good Way.” You can register at www.billgood.com/coldcalling. It will be on a Friday afternoon in November. I may or may not record it. You are cordially invited.

Meantime, let’s solve at least some of the script problems.

Making Contact

There are two reasons you are not making enough contact: You are not making enough calls; and you may have a beat-up, highly resistant list.

Today, it takes at least twice as many calls to reach one person as it did 10 years ago. Your goal is: 60 calls per hour. To do that, every rule below must be in force.

  •  Call at the optimum time which is 8–10 a.m. If you are a rookie with no clients and therefore nothing else to do, it’s 8 a.m.–12 p.m. 
  •  During your “calling block” allow no interruptions. Don’t take incoming calls, or at least have someone screen the calls.
  •  Don’t waste time leaving messages and writing down stuff that doesn’t matter. 
  • Let the phone ring four times, and disconnect.
  •  At every possible opportunity, ask for the direct extension number.

If you are making your 60 calls an hour and are not getting 2–3 cherries per hour, you have a list problem. Call a different demographic.

No-Contact Scenarios

Since most of your dials result in no contact, it is vital you fully understand how to handle these. 

Assumption: You are dialing small business owners.

YOU: 801-992-6868. 1 ring. 2 ring. 3 ring. 4 ring. Disconnect.

YOU: Immediately dial 801-997-6666. 1 ring. 2 ring.

RECEPTION: Good morning, Loblaw Company.

YOU: Good morning. This is Bob DaBlob. I’m calling from Reliable Securities. May I speak to Mr. Loblaw please?

RECEPTION: I’m sorry he’s not in right now. May I take a message?

YOU: No thank you. I’ll call back. 801-641-2345. 1 ring.

RECEPTION: Throckmorten and Company. Good morning.

YOU: Good morning. This is Bob DaBlob. Barbara Throckmorten, please.

RECEPTION: One moment please.

ASSISTANT: Good morning. Barbara Throckmorten’s office. How may I help you?

YOU: Good morning. This is Bob DaBlob. Who am I speaking with?

ASSISTANT: Clementina Domenica.

YOU: Good morning, Clementina. Again, I’m Bob DaBlob with Reliable Securities. I have some important information for Barbara regarding what’s called the financial cliff. She may fall off that cliff in January. It is important we speak. Could you connect me please?

ASSISTANT: She’s tied up in a meeting right now, would you like to leave a message on her voicemail?

YOU: Sure. But in case I get disconnected, what’s her direct extension number?

Hint: Don’t leave the message. Do ask for the direct extension number.

Contact Made

DECISION MAKER: This is Barbara Throckmorten.

Yikes. The door opened. Now what?

You’ve got 15 seconds to engage her. Most people blow it right here. Here’s why.

  • Your script does not make a specific offer.
  • You don’t use good manners but instead try to force your way into the person’s life by asking for an immediate appointment.
  • You don’t even provide a benefit for someone to give up their time to see you.
  • You talk too much. You have 15 seconds and that includes your first question.

What works is: (a) a clear offer and (b) a question to determine degree of interest. Below are some sample scripts readers recently sent me. A brief analysis and my rewrite follow each. As an aside, I cannot tell you that my rewrite would work. 

Like any script, it would require testing. (We’ll talk about that on my webinar.) But based on a lot of past experience, my version has a much better chance.

Scenario: This FA is new in the business. He has opened 1-2 new HH in the past 12 months and he cold calls daily.

“Hello […], we’ve never spoken before and I don’t want to waste your time, so I’ll be very brief and to the point. I’m NAME, an FA at FIRM and I’d like to work for you. If I could save you taxes and or improve your returns would you care to discuss the ideas?”

Are you surprised at his lack of success? I’m not. His script has two negatives right up front—we’ve never spoken and I don’t want to waste your time. And he makes two offers—“I’d like to work for you” and “would you care to discuss the ideas?” Muddy at best.

Now my rewritten version:

“My name is ____. I’m an FA at FIRM. I do two things. I help people reduce taxes and I help them increase their investment returns. Which of these would interest you the most?”

Taxes/income: “Terrific. I would like to send you some information on our [tax/income] strategy. If you like what you read, would you take a follow up call?”

Comment: Don’t think for one second that you have to ask for an appointment on the first call. You don’t. And more often than not, you should not.

Let’s look at another script.

“Hi John, this is NAME—I’m a LOCAL financial advisor with FIRM. I specialize in helping business owners and professionals just like you make sure they are on track to hit their goals. I’d like to give you a snapshot of how I do that, and then see where things might go from there.”

The offer here is very general. My rewrite:

“Hi John, this is NAME—I’m a LOCAL financial advisor with FIRM. I’m looking for a business owner today who does not have a handle on meeting some ambitious personal financial goals. Could that be you?”

Comment: Asking for someone who does not have something they should have sometimes cuts right through the resistance, and often you get a true, flash answer.

Here’s another script. Scenario: FA has been in the business 10-plus years and cold calls daily. He reports 6-10 new HH in the past 12 months. Sorry, that doesn’t cut it.

“Mr./ Mrs._______, we work with a lot of business owners/senior executives like yourself managing their personal finances. For over 30 years we have been bringing financial planning and portfolio management services to our clients. Next week, I will be in your area doing quarterly reviews with our clients. This would be a good opportunity for us to get together and show you how our programs have had great success for our clients. What would be a convenient time and place for us to meet?”

Gasp. I’ve nearly passed out. Twice as long as it should be, and no clear offer. I don’t have a rewrite for this one. I would throw it out and start all over. 

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Editor's note: See Bill Good's September and October columns on cold calling. To register for his webinar, visit www.billgood.com/coldcalling.

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