There are four “grades” of cold-calling scripts, which I highlight on my website, Bill Good Marketing.

The Worst. These demonstrate why people think cold calling does not work. These are what most people use.

Workable. Grab a list, pick one of my scripts. Make a few hundred calls at the rate of 40-60 an hour. If you are not generating 1.5 to two leads an hour, get another script or another list. Repeat.

Precision. There are scripts tailored to the needs of a tightly defined list. You should download my “Precision Cold-Calling Kit.”

Personalized. These are the best. If you truly hate to cold call, you will spend half your time researching your target market and tailoring an approach to each name on the list.

Start Here

Here is an email that arrived in my LinkedIn inbox. The books the writer refers to are both mine.

I purchased and read both “Prospecting Your Way to Sales Success” and “Hot Prospects,” have made more than 30,000 dials, but have only been able to acquire $557,000 in new assets.

I wanted to ask if you think that the financial-services industry has changed dramatically, especially concerning client acquisition, since you wrote your books. Maybe I’m just not very good at this, yet, but I am trying to analyze my approach because what I have been doing is not working very well.

I wrote back: “Basic Mistake No. 1: Get a bad idea and stick to it. Something is off in your list, script, time of day, number of calls per hour, sound. The focus today is on what I call “Precision Cold Calling.” I’m attaching an article for you.” I asked him to send me his script.

He replied with this script.

Hi ______, this is (name) with (firm). I’m calling because I help people invest for retirement while saving on taxes and wanted to see if your schedule would permit a few minutes for me to drop by and briefly introduce myself.

Gasp. The writer is using one of countless variations on the “introduce myself” script, which I consider the worst script ever. It is most likely the reason that he (and his peers) are asking, “Do you think the industry has changed since you wrote your books?”

The answer, by the way, is “Yes, the industry has changed.”

Does this mean cold calling no longer works and that rookies, junior partners and “associate advisors” should throw in the cold-calling towel and … do what? Give seminars at $6,000 a pop?

No, it does not mean cold calling does not work. It just means every single piece of a cold-calling campaign must meet professional standards, starting with the script.

The script can be workable, tailored to an industry or personalized. If you can handle it, make 200 calls a day and go with a Workable script. Are 200 calls a day not on your agenda?

Consider Precision. Want your calls to reach executives in the C-Suite? A personalized script is the way to go.

Let’s look at the worst scripts in the hopes I can rip them from your consciousness.

My examples, by the way, came from Googling “best cold-calling script.” That same search, by the way, also turned up some excellent advice. So, let’s hack our way first through the worst.

This worst script is by a “sales transformation architect.” His website offered to trade me his cold-calling script for my email address. Done. This script, he said, is one a “financial services company paid me to write for their financial planners.”

(I’m taking his script section by section and adding my commentary immediately following. I have put his script in italics to differentiate from my commentary.)

Voicemail message (for you to leave only on the first call attempt):

Hello Bob, this is Your Name with Your Company. I was calling you today to schedule a 10-minute introductory conversation … blah blah blah.

Better advice: Never leave voicemails when cold calling. It is a total and complete waste of time! Really.

Prospect Answers: This is Bob:

Hi Bob, my name is Your Name with Your company. Have I caught you at a bad time?

Of course, it’s a bad time. You now must handle the objection that you just created.

Prospect: Yes. Who is this? What is this about?

Thank you for asking. Once again, my name is Your Name. I’m with Your Company. The purpose of my call is to schedule 10-15 minutes with you sometime early next week to formally introduce myself and my company. Would you have 10 minutes on Thursday afternoon, say at 1 p.m.?

Snore.

Can’t we please put this “introduce myself” approach down?

If you are using any variation of the “introduce myself” script, stop! This approach goes back to the ‘70s (or earlier), and it probably didn’t work then. It most certainly does not work now.

We have some stats to prove it. When we do the math, those who use this script average $18 additional asset per each dial. To raise $10 million in assets requires about 550,000 dials. At 60 dials per hour, that’s about 9,000 hours of cold calling — or four and a-half years of doing nothing but cold calling. It ain’t working. ‘Nuff said.

Another Worst Script

Mr./Ms. Business Owner: Hi, this is __________ calling from________. The reason for my call is, as a successful business owner, I know you are always trying to improve your bottom line, and I specialize in helping business owners increase profits.

Now as a successful business owner, I’m sure you agree that your most valuable commodity is time and I’m not here to waste it. I am confident if you allow me the opportunity, I can show you how to add to your bottom line.

I will be in your area next Tuesday and Thursday; would you be available for a brief introductory meeting either of those days?

Pant, puff, wheeze.

Way too long. It took 38 seconds for me to read it aloud. A good rule of thumb for a cold-calling script is to not talk for more than 15 seconds without asking a question.

Again, it’s yet another variation of “All I want is just an appointment. Please, please, don’t let me starve.”

Three Types of Cold Calling

There are three styles of cold calling that work today. For each style, you could have a Workable, Precise and Personalized script.

First Call Appointment: This can work, just not the way proposed by the “Worst Scripts.” I’m monitoring a test right now. It seems to take 100-150 calls to get an appointment. Two or three appointments per week can be very profitable if you can close the sale.

Mail-Phone: Send a letter and follow up three to five days later with a phone call. You would use this one if you find yourself getting a lot of requests for information on a “First Call Appointment” script. Go ahead and send the information requested first.

Phone-Mail-Phone: This is my classic “cherry-picking cold call.” Get a good list. Put together an article or white paper that gives information people might be interested in.

On the first call, offer the info and then qualify it (by phone). Next, send the requested info (by mail). Call back to set an appointment or further develop the lead (by phone).

These styles are listed in decreasing order of difficulty. Your best bet is to start with First Call Appointment and work down the scale.

You have seen the worst. Now let’s look at the best.

Best Advice for Cold Calling

In the example that follows, I’m taking on one of toughest types of cold calls. We will develop a script to call CEOs or CFOs of small- to medium-sized companies. Personalized is the only way to go.

The best advice I found when I searched “best cold calling script” was at the Teamgate Blog (https://blog.teamgate.com/5-cold-calling-scripts/).

I took each step of their advice to craft a Personalized script. The company I researched has 500 employees and is on the list of 100 fastest-growing companies in Utah. That would be a good catch, right? The quotes from the Teamgate blog are in italics. My commentary follows.

Step 1: Provide Context

“Knowing who you’re calling is crucial, but so is placing your call in a context. If the only reason for your call is that a prospect happens to be on your to-call list that day, you’re just another intrusive salesman with nothing interesting to say. Instead, leverage social media channels, media coverage, new hire announcements and news updates to find a valid reason for your call and determine which of your prospects are ripe for engaging at that particular moment.”

My research on this company took a few minutes. Great website. Big section on “our people.” Within two minutes, I had the names of the CEO and the VP of Operations, both compliments of LinkedIn. I checked Glassdoor, obviously.

Here is my opening line based on the research I did:

Is this Frank? This is Your Name of Your Company. By the way, I’m not surprised (Prospect’s Company Name) is one of the 100 fastest-growing businesses in Utah. I buy your product all the time. Good job.

(Chit chat based on how CEO responds.)

Frank, I know you are busy and are not waiting for my call.

I spent some time on your website. Very impressive. It just screams how proud you are of the people who work with you and how proud you are of the people who work with you.

The focus of my team here at Reliable Securities is helping small- to mid-sized companies profitably keep this most important asset. As financial advisors, we focus on the retirement asset component of our benefit package. May I ask you two or three questions to see if what we do might be a fit for what you need?

Step 2: Ask Smart Questions

“The more research you do, the ‘smarter’ your questions will get. By asking very specific, personalized questions you will demonstrate to your prospects that you took the time to track all this information down and really understand their situation. Smart questions will progress the conversation further; trying to wing it will only create distractions, wasting your prospect’s and your own time. And there’s one thing the modern society is truly obsessed with — using their time efficiently.”

Advisor Script: Out of curiosity, are you the third generation of your company to be CEO or does the line go back further? (Response) That’s called succession planning.

For whatever it’s worth, according to the website, Glassdoor, your salaries for Utah seem exceptional. You also seem to have exceptional insurance, health and wellness, financial and retirement benefits. You are obviously spending a lot of money to create an incredible opportunity. Any chance in the back of your mind you might get better performance at a lower price for your 401(k)?

Step 3: Test Close

“Pitches that lead to a soft sale typically rely on questions that present two attractive options and can’t be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’… This approach opens up a much more relaxed, tension-free space for a conversation, unlike hard-sell questions like “Would you like to start with the basic plan?”

(Optional based on response) Tell me, when was the last time you sat down with your advisor and did a thorough review of your 401(k) expenses and returns compared with current benchmarks?

We’re happy. Frank, I appreciate the few minutes of your time. I want to send you a brochure on the Reliable Securities Team. Stick it in a drawer somewhere, and if you ever get a nagging thought, “I wonder if we are on track,” give us a call. Fair enough?

Been a while. Frank, I will be in your neck of the woods a couple of times next week. I’m out there Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon. What day might you have a little wiggle room in your schedule?

Step 4: Schedule Next Steps

(More often that not, the appointment will not close on the first attempt. Have a fallback.)

Our office is in the Midvale Megatower. You go right past it on your way to the airport. If you were to swing off the freeway at 72nd South, we could spend 30 minutes and find out if what we have and what you need might be a good fit

When are you heading out of town next and when are you returning? And which would be better, on your way in or out of town?

Author’s note: If you are a rookie or a veteran who wants to jumpstart a flat business, cold calling could be an option. Helpful resources, including “The 16 Best Scripts,” can be found (and downloaded for free) at www.billgoodmarketing.com/cold-calling.

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Bill Good is chairman of Bill Good Marketing. His Gorilla CRM System helps advisors double their production or work half as much; visit www.billgoodmarketing.com. His book, Hot Prospects, is the book on prospecting for this industry and can be bought on Amazon. His blog, Advisor Tips and Tricks for Growth has lots of useful information for advisors who need to beef up marketing. To preview Bill as a speaker, see his YouTube channel.