The Truth About Scripts and Cold Calling

Very, very early in my career, I was given a cold calling script. It was written on index cards, and the index cards were all collected in a little tiny binder. Each index card had a little tab on it, and on the tab was a little label on which was typed a prompt. The idea was, as you received an objection to meeting, you could flip to the right tab and have good language available to overcome the objection.

It was my first or second day making calls that I chanced upon a prospect that helped me understand the value of scripts. He answered my call, and started in on my pitch for an appointment. Right in the middle of the pitch, he interrupted: “Hey, you’re reading from a script. Call me back when you don’t need to read from a script.”

I looked down at the tabs for help, knowing darn well that there was no tab with a rebuttal for the objection that reading from a script doesn’t give your prospect great confidence that you will know how to help them.

But as I continued to make calls, having access to effective language was really helpful in scheduling appointments and opening up some dialogue. It wasn’t very long until I no longer need the little binder or the index cards at all, and as my competence grew, so did my confidence.

You Are Using Scripts

Whether you choose to believe it or not, you are using scripts when you cold call and when you speak to your clients. To do otherwise would mean that you use completely different language on every single call and during every single interaction. You don’t.

Even when you are engaged in a conversation with your dream client or client, it’s likely that some of your answers are pretty stock answers to pretty common questions or common concerns.

The idea behind scripted language isn’t that you are supposed to “read” a script—and it surely isn’t that you are ever supposed to sound like you are using a script. The object behind scripts is that you take the time to make the most effective language choices possible when you are speaking with your clients. Sometimes you say something brilliant that perfectly makes your point; but winging it isn’t making effective langue choices.

If You Are New to Sales

If you are new to sales, writing scripts will help to ensure that you are on point, and that your message is clear and understood. Spending the time to think about the language, writing the language down, and rehearsing the language will build your confidence and your competence as a salesperson.

Make a list of the common client and prospect communications that you make, and sketch out an outline of the key points and key questions you need to ask. Keep your goal in mind, and make sure your language leads to the outcome that you need.

You will be better for having done so, and your language will be greatly improved.

Writing down what you want to say and rehearsing it makes the language more effective, and it is more compelling to your prospect and client than stammering around trying to figure out how to say what you want—or need—to say.

Good language is better than not-so-good language. Rehearsal for important conversations and presentations is better than winging it. Reading to your dream client directly from a script is never recommended.

If You Are Experienced in Sales

If this is all old hat, and you have been selling for along time, you have already discovered the effective language to achieve the outcomes you need.

But from time to time, it is helpful to take some account of what you are saying, the words you are using to make your point, and to codify some of the language choices that are particularly effective.


Does using a script take away from your ability to have a conversation, or does it contribute to a meaningful conversation?

Do you have things that you want to say—or need to say to your dream client? Do you take the time to work out the language so that you say what you want say as well as you want to say it? How would doing say help you to be more effective?

How does it help you to think about your language choices? What are the most important conversations that you have frequently and that would benefit from ensuring that you had tightly crafted language?

Why wouldn’t you want your first—and sometimes most important communication, the cold call—to be a tightly crafted, well-honed, well-rehearsed message that opened a conversation? Is winging it a better plan for making a cold call to your dream client?

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  • Get Above The Fold

    I’ve got a photoalbum with index cards which sounds like your binder.
    It’s good for getting past the gatekeeper but if I get to talk to the decision maker I generally don’t use it any more and let my personality take over.
    I also rewrite the initial 20 second intro on a regular basis tailored to the audience.

    • Anonymous

      Sounds like it’s pretty effective, Martyn! Rewriting the intro is a great idea . . . from time to time, things change!

  • Msiller

    Word for word scripts may be OK for a new salesperson to use. Especially if they’ve never made cold calls. The script helps the person to convey the branding message of their company and keeps the conversation flowing to the reason for the call–get an appointment (or sell the product).

    After the salesperson becomes comfortable with the script, it can be reduced down to a few bullet points so that no part of the message gets left out.

    Constant practice, recording ones calls, reciting the script to a friend or family member who is not in the salesperson’s industry is a good way to become fluent in the corporate message and not sound like you’re reading from a script.

    One extra bit of advice, do not open with “Hi, I’m ________ with __________ How Are You Today?” The How Are You Today is annoying and creates an opportunity for an immediate hang up. For example, if all you want to know is how I am, my answer is “peachy, keen, dandy”–the conversation is over.

    Instead, it’s better to state your name, company, one tag line about your company’s service, and the reason for the call–I would like to set an appointment! The sooner you get to the reason for the call the sooner the sales process can begin.

  • Mitch Fredricks

    Excellent detailed post on cold calling…

  • Flyn

    One of the things that can be very helpful in
    cold calling is a basic “marketing education.”

    I highly recommend that those who do lots
    of cold calling read Richard Hershaw’s book
    Monopolize Your Marketplace.

    Richard will show you how to create a real
    and powerful unique selling proposition
    and tell your story effectively.

    Every salesperson should read this book.
    (In my opinion.)

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  • Cyber Squatter

    Great advice!

    My friend Bob Etherington has written a very successfull book on cold calling called “cold calling for chickens”

    You can see Bob give some quality sales advice in this 30 second video – Pure gold, no matter how good you are!