Cold call opening lines that boost sales appointments

Sales script example used by door-to-door canvassers teaches us what NOT to do.

This is a true story. Two office to office canvassers walked into my office unannounced. Two young men all spiffed up in suits and playing the role. While I was at my desk focusing on a project, they approached me with big fake smiles, looking like someone had just taken the shrink wrap off them.

Let’s unpack what they did, then evaluate a sales script structure they could have used, with a much greater chance of success.

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“Hi, I’m Mike, this is Frank from didn’tgetthename company, we have an alternative to UPS that saves money….”

A bad, bad opening cold call line that creates the very response they wish to avoid.

Six keys to start a cold sales call script.

Read a much better opening line below.

They started with the line above and I shut them down. If that opening was part of a prepared sales script, it’s doubtful they would have much cold call success.

First, the scenario. They walk into an office unannounced and approach someone that is busy. That should be a normal scenario for them. Anybody worth talking to is busy. That is reality. So what.

As they walked through the outer office towards me (my assistant was out) their appearance put me on guard and predisposed me to quickly getting rid of them. Their polished appearance and insincere wide smiles, telegraphed to me “hard sell” and “waste of time.”

I was ready to reject them before they even started talking.

The words they spoke cemented my desire to get rid of them. A desire they created and strengthened.

They said “… we have an alternative to UPS…” My immediate thought? Great. This one is easy. We don’t use UPS. I don’t need them. Buh-bye.

Door to door sales technique and script to improve odds

Here is what I would have recommended.

  1. Only one person should have approached me initially. My resolve to reject them was strengthened by being cold call ambushed by two. Plus, the 2nd person seemed to be a trainee, with I assume, little to offer. Don’t put those thoughts in my head.
  2. The one person who approached me should have toned it down a bit. If the jacket was off, the pace was slower, if the face seemed a little more sincere or real, I would have been more relaxed and not predisposed to battle. Make it easy for people to be at ease with you. This is more common sense than revelatory sales technique.
  3. Their opening line was terrible and made it easy for me to reject them. I was ready to reject them. They made it easy for me to do so with their opening.

If this was a prepared sales script it was bad. If they were winging it, that is worse.

They said:

“Hi, I’m Mike, this is Frank from didn’tgetthename company, we have an alternative to UPS that saves money…”

My suggestion would have been something like this:

“Hi, I’m Mike from Amalgamated. Could I share with you a shipping option used by 137 local businesses and 30,000 nationwide? I appreciate your time and will only take a moment.”

As to delivery, the tone would be soft, understated, sincere and courteous.

Keys to better cold call opening lines

1st key: “share with you a shipping option.” This is purposely a broader approach that doesn’t enable qualified prospects to conclude “that is not for me.”

2nd key: “Share” can mean a few things and is soft language. The words and sales script are not limiting the conversation.

3rd key: Say the company name clearly. In their pitch I didn’t grasp the name of the company. So rather than concentrate on what they are saying next, I’m thinking “From where? What did he say?” Their poor delivery of the words lost me.

4th key: “…137 local businesses and 30,000 nationwide.” Credibility, credibility, credibility. If you are going to have any shot at cold call success your sales script must convey credibility. If I chat a bit, I need to know that I am not wasting my time with a non-credible company.

If I was a candidate for their service, I need to know at least that there is a possibility that I would consider them. Those specifics tell me that maybe, maybe, they might have something.

5th key: What cemented in my mind that they were two clueless idiots sure to waste my time? Their reference to saving money. That was the worst thing they could have brought up and the least important to me.

Of course, they know nothing about what we spend, so their credibility immediately plunged in my mind. Also, that is the least important factor to me. Shaving a few pesos off a budget item which isn’t on my radar doesn’t interest me.

Now if they had mentioned convenience factors, tracking options, customer notification and satisfaction options, saving admin time and a few other things, my ears might have perked up. But saving money? If that was the best thing they could say up-front, they obviously had no clue what really mattered to their decision-makers. Bye-bye.

6th key: A low-key approach combined with a sincere appreciation of time. Common decency and a great door-to-door sales technique. If I was willing to entertain a new shipping option now or maybe just listen to what they have… and I was balancing between “do I listen” and “do I not,” that ending may make the difference and get them a few moments and lead to a longer interaction.

I am sensing a possible benefit, not sensing a risk, and am more likely to give them the benefit of the doubt and a few moments. What the heck?

All of the above would have given them a much greater chance of some additional time.

If they got it, they would follow with a more expansive statement of benefits and some questions that would lead to a more in-depth interaction with the following possible results.

  • An account now.
  • An account later.
  • A referral now.
  • A referral later.
  • A suspect crossed off the list.

Work with a cold calling script that helps sell, rather than scaring people away.

Words matter. The words you use should be crafted to give you the best shot of getting to the next step of your process. If you are ineffective at any step, you are out of the game or building on a weak foundation.

If you understand what you are trying to achieve with each component part of your interactions and how your words influence the result, you have the best chance of selecting the words that will earn you the next step.