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  • Diana Schneidman

The perfect cold calling script for freelancers and consultants

Writing out your script helps, but it’s over the course of delivering it again and again that the rough edges wear away.

Before making any calls, list out everything you want to say, both if someone answers and if you leave a voice mail. (And yes, always leave a voice mail! Once you’ve gone this far, hanging up without leaving a message is walking away from a possible opportunity.)

My voicemail message always runs at least a minute and sometimes even 90 seconds. It includes my name (of course), my phone number (at both the beginning and the end), a brief description of my services and credentials, and asks them to call me back. It also refers them to the email I send concurrently if I have their email address.

Don’t worry about talking too long! If they are interested, they want a substantial amount of info. If they are not interested, they’ll hang up.

My intro if they answer is much briefer than the voice mail because I’m trying to start a conversation. If they’re not open to talking, there’s only so far I can take this.

It’s not necessary to have every word written out because it’s more about sounding natural and conversational than about delivering the script perfectly but in a stilted manner. An occasional “uh” or correction doesn’t really matter, just as it doesn’t matter in a regular conversation so long as we sound friendly and relaxed.

As you make more calls, you become more comfortable with what to say. If a word feels sort of tongue twister-ish when combined with the rest of the sentence, switch it out for something easier to say. Sometimes a sentence reads well but it’s too long to say without stopping for breath. So add a comma or restructure into several sentences.

Try variations as you go along. This keeps it interesting and enables you to test alternatives. Read sales books for additional variations to test.

It’s difficult to measure the effectiveness of these variations. Most success is due to calling the right person who is open to working with a solo professional. I believe it’s rare for a single word or phrase choice to sour a prospect. Actually, the tone—friendly, confident but not overbearing, energetic but conversational, interested—is more important than the wording.

Your best feedback comes from listening to yourself. I get little actionable feedback from those I call because their part of the transaction is to represent their interests, not to coach me on how they feel about what I am saying.

It’s interesting how after I say pretty much the same thing time after time, I sense what is weak without anyone else pointing this out to me.

In particular, I have been in situations in which as calling progressed, I sensed the need for a giveaway to introduce my services. Then I consider what would be the best offer and start working on it on the side.

Caution: It’s better to get input (even from yourself) on how to improve and then work on this fillip on the side than to use this as an excuse to put aside all phoning for some date far in the future. A justification to turn off the marketing for some indeterminate time span can be quite enticing. Don’t allow a realization on how you can improve derail your marketing for days, weeks or even months.

Take this improvement as a call to action, not as an excuse for inaction.

Originally posted 5-9-11

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