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Seven reasons why cold calling scripts are set to fail
In this article, Catherine Emerson of Nseventeen, the consultancy that specialises in qualified and researched business appointment setting, argues that scripted cold calling has a limited place in today's business to business world.
"Hi, my name's Mark, how are you today? I'm calling to talk to you about your choice of energy supplier..." Cold calls! We've all been on the receiving end of them and 99% of the time they're unwanted and unwelcome.
Many businesses will think twice before using a telemarketing company or call centre to generate leads, not least because for many businesses, that high volume approach isn't appropriate. Yet many of us fall into using a script when we're making cold sales calls even when we don't mean to. It offers a safety net when we'd be more comfortable face to face closing a sale than on the phone trying to generate one.
But here are seven reasons to avoid using a script (or going with a telemarketing company whose representatives will use a script). And because knowing what you should be doing is more helpful than knowing what you shouldn't, we'll look at best practice at the end.
1. The timing is rarely right
You can almost guarantee that the call will come in the middle of a busy business day when the last thing on your mind is reconsidering your choice of supplier for whatever it is they're trying to sell you.
2. They can sound unnatural and forced
You can usually tell that the person calling is just reading something out rather than actually talking to you. Do you feel like a valuable partnership has just begun?
3. They're often spoken far too quickly
Sometimes so quickly we can't even hear what's been said! It's hardly surprising. After all, it may be the first time you've heard the line, but it's far from the first time for the person reading it!
4. They rarely leave room for a conversation
A conversation is a two way thing, and yet, even when we're asked, "How are you today?", or something similar, it rarely feels like we are actually having a conversation.
5. The content is usually generic and will not specifically address our needs
The call will not be specific to our needs and it will probably be about something we don't want and currently have no need for.
6. They generally sound out of date now
As business communications move more into win-win relationship building (witness the rise of social media), cold calling is sounding increasingly old fashioned.
7. We've been here before
We've all had cold calls in the past and we've been polite, answered any questions and tried to be helpful (after all, we're all trying to make a living aren't we?) Now however, because we simply don't have the patience to deal with something that is obviously a cold call, we will try to curtail the conversation as soon as possible.
So... what's the solution?
If you're trying to set an appointment or generate a sale, it's important to remember that 80% of your time should be spent in pre-call research and just 20% in actually making the call. Take the time to understand exactly what you want to achieve, the specific people you're able to help and how you can meet their specific needs. It means that when you make the call, the recipient will appreciate the help you can bring. It also means that you can engage with them as an equal who understands their problem and can offer the solution.
Our small team of mature business professionals uses this approach when working on behalf of clients and we know it leads to qualified and confirmed appointments with appropriate senior decision makers. So next time you need to get on the phone, why don't you give it a try?
12th December 2013