Warm Up to Your Cold Call

With the weather getting warmer, it can be easy to fall into a pre-summer mindset—allowing ourselves to daydream about a life spent in flip flops and sunglasses, with our most pressing decision being whether or not to order the drink with the curly straw or the umbrella.

As seductive as this seems, I guarantee you will be far happier come sweater-season if you take this time to warm up to your cold calls instead.

Did that just feel like an arctic chill?

I agree. I detest making cold calls. On thing I do enjoy doing, though, is mining people for their expertise so I called my friend Gregory who adores making cold calls, and he taught me about writing cold call scripts. These scripts outline in brief exactly why you’re calling and what you want. Then they envision every possible negative response you might get to your request for money/a meeting/whatever it is you’re seeking and provide you with the rebuttal that will get you in the door. Here an example of what we put together for a financial client:

FCJ:   “Mr. Smith, this is Frances Jones calling from Cole Media Management. (pause)
Good morning (pause)
X firm and I have been doing business recently, and I’m certain the success I’ve had with them would benefit your firm as well.

At this point Mr. Smith likely asks: “What do you do?”

FCJ:    “I help executives look better during TV interviews and boardroom pitches. I’d love to come by your office and show you how it works. How’s next Tuesday..” etc.
I’d like to get together to talk.
How’s next Tuesday at 3?

As you can see, the body of the script includes my nameand the firm’s name. It includes the name of a comparable company—or a similar enticement—to catch and hold my listener’s attention. It includes  a one sentence description of what I do. And—very importantly—it includes a request for a concrete date and time to get together. All of these elements should be included in the script you put together.

Next, we wrote the possible responses I might get and my rebuttals:

Mr. Smith:      “I’m not interested.”
FCJ:                “Is that because you’re too busy?”
Mr. Smith:      “Yes.”
FCJ:                “What are you preparing for?”
Mr. Smith:      “I have a few meetings coming up.”
FCJ:                “Oh, but that’s exactly why we should get together. How’s next Tuesday…”

Mr. Smith:      “I don’t do TV.”
FCJ:                “But you do speak in front of large groups?”
Mr. Smith:      “Yes.
FCJ:                “Oh, but that’s exactly why we should get together. How’s next Tuesday…”

Mr. Smith:      “I have nothing coming up.”
FCJ:                “Even better. The less firefighting the better the results—which is why now is the best time to get together. How’s next Tuesday…”

Mr. Smith:      “I don’t have the budget.”
FCJ:                “The meeting’s free. How’s next Tuesday….”

Mr. Smith:      “I don’t need the help.”
FCJ:                “You’ve never made a presentation you felt could have gone better?”
Mr. Smith:      “Well, yes…”
FCJ:                “This is why we really should get together. How’s next Tuesday…”

Mr. Smith:     No, I’ve never left a meeting feeling it could have gone better.
FCJ:                “Wow. Then I have a lot to learn from you. How’s next Tuesday…”

As you can see, we spent a lot of time [and had a lot of fun] envisioning every possible scenario for refusal, then coming up with a one-sentence way of circling back to my request for a meeting and the ‘by when’ I wanted that meeting to happen. Again, that’s an extremely important piece; including a concrete ‘by when’ signals for your listener that you can’t be put off with, “I’ll check my calendar and get back to you.”

If all of this seems incredibly pushy or unnatural to you, that’s all the more reason to have a script—so that in the moment you don’t blank and back down. Speaking from my own experience, not only did I find these an incredibly helpful jump-start to get myself on the phone, but it was unusual for me to hang up without a meeting in place.