Cold calling scripts are the most commonly recommended tool to assist a new salesperson in prospecting for sales. However, cold calling scripts are frequently overused, abused, and relied upon as crutches. This results in salespeople sounding like robots, and failing to come across as a human being with a real personality. And as anyone who is successful in sales well knows, personality is what really sells. People buy people above and beyond price, features, benefits, and even profitability.
Therefore, the problem with cold calling scripts in general is that they kill off any chance of making a real personal connection with the prospect, especially when they're read verbatim and you end up sounding like one of those fundraising cold callers who manage to interrupt dinner hour night after night.
However, what if it were possible to personalize a cold calling script, and make it not so "cold" after all? It's not only possible, but a relatively new sales tool has even made it easy: Social media.
If you're any good at sales at all, hopefully you're working lists of targeted prospects - even if you're cold calling. Making cold calls for sales is bad enough, but if you're doing it blindly and calling strangers completely at random, it becomes almost totally ineffective.
On the contrary, the smart sales professional always works targeted prospects. Before picking up the phone to make that call - or even consider how the initial contact will be made in the first place - a good sales pro will identify who his or her ideal prospects are, define the characteristics of those ideal prospects, and then begin compiling a list of whom to target.
If you're in B2B sales, this is a piece of cake. You should be familiar with your territory and who is in it. If you're in B2C sales, it's not so cut-and-dry, but birth & marriage announcements in newspapers, as well as promotion and job change announcements in your local business journal - as well as purchased lists - certainly simplify the process and help you create a list of ideal customers for your product or service.
With your target list complete - whether it's 25, 50, 100 prospects, or more - you can begin the research phase. Find out who the key decision makers are, and begin researching them on social media properties, particularly LinkedIn, the grandaddy of social media for salespeople.
Facebook is also useful for learning about the personal side of your prospects, and for identifying "icebreakers" that you can use when making the initial contact. These would be any common interests, such as hobbies, education, sports teams, and so on, that you can use as conversation starters.
Armed with this knowledge, it's time to make that call. But, we're talking about cold calling scripts, remember?
For starters, a sales script should never be more than an outline, or a roadmap for you to follow on your call. Structure it in bullet-point fashion, with flowchart navigation so you can skip to different parts of the script in order to expedite your call. For example, if your prospect is already familiar with what you sell, you can skip over that section and move on to the next, whether it's identifying needs, or setting the appointment.
Remember that one of the leading causes of failure in selling is making the mistake of insisting on going through your entire sales process, or call script, or what have you - I've seen companies with "steps of a sale" as many as 20 (!) which certainly annoyed prospects and led to lost sales.
If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: If someone wants to buy, get out of the way, stop selling, and just let them buy!
With your outline-style script in hand, craft an introduction or opening line for each individual prospect, armed with some personal or professional insight about them - and hopefully some common ground - that you can use to open the conversation. Doing this shifts the premise of the call from business to personal, removing sales resistance and making it a thousand times easier to get in the door.
Given the difficulty of reaching valuable prospects on the telephone these days, an even better way to make that initial contact is to do it directly via social media. Facebook, LinkedIn, and direct messages on Twitter are all viable options for making an intial connection with your prospect and beginning a relationship that will likely end in a sale for you.
So remember, when considering the use of cold calling scripts, a script should only ever be used as an outline, and if you insist on using them at all, use the power of social media to learn as much as you can about your prospect, and customize that script for each individual call.
Frank Rumbauskas is the author of the New York Times best-seller Never Cold Call Again and has trained over 50,000 salespeople on how to generate hot leads without cold calling. For a free 37-page PDF preview of his lead generation system, visit http://www.nevercoldcall.com