Bad Phone Sales Script Advice

This week’s blog is by Michael Pedone, founder and CEO of, an online sales training company. Get a free sales lesson here:

Is your team killing cold call opportunities with this common mistake?

While researching keywords related to “phone sales scripts,” I came across a website offering sample scripts for free. Well, they say you get what you pay for and in fact, this “free advice” could actually cost you a bundle in lost commissions.The author of the script must have been a junior phone sales person or someone with little or no sales training. Sad to say, though, many sales people use a similar approach when making an outbound sales call. No wonder so many cold calls end in failure! It needn’t be this way.Some advice you’d be well-advised to ignore:The author of the free script begins with a perfectly sound recommendation:

“Is this Mr. Jones? Hi, this is Jane Gray with Manic Maids.”

It’s always a good idea to clearly identify yourself and your company in the opening. Don’t misrepresent yourself by pretending you are conducting a survey of local business owners or by using a similarly deceptive approach. It will most likely backfire on you later in the call.

Okay, no disagreement there. But next, the author’s “advice” shatters any salesperson’s hope of earning a commission. He suggests you immediately say:

“We’re offering a deal right now on commercial cleanings. Have you ever worked with a cleaning company before?”

Wow. Even if you’re not a sales professional, you can probably tell that there are so many things wrong with this approach that it’s hard to know where to begin.

If that approach sounds familiar to you – that is, if you or your colleagues are going this route – allow me to explain why this tack is probably killing your cold call success rate.

Don’t start selling before you know the situation.

For starters, when your opening statement is something along the lines of “We’re offering a deal right now!” you’re putting the cart before the horse. There was no “problem” established to begin with, no context given. Your pitch comes off as exactly what it is: a generic script that shows no interest in the person on the receiving end (other than prying open his wallet). Why would anyone put in that position care if you have a deal right now – or ever?

Second, you have no idea if the person you are speaking to is qualified to make the decision on whether or not what you’re offering is of value to them. So when the person says “No thanks, not interested” or “We’re all set,” you just got blown off by someone that quite possibly didn’t have the authority to say “yes” in the first place.

Third, even if you are speaking to the decision maker, you immediately followed your opening statement with a probing question. This raises defenses and leads to terse one-word answers. You can hear the prospect’s resistance and tension over the phone. Think how you’d feel in the same situation: cornered, perhaps insulted and certainly interested only in hanging up the phone – noisily.

A better approach for openers: Think like your prospect.

To avoid starting off your phone sales script on a bad note, follow these simple steps:

  1. Know the purpose of your opening statement. What you should be trying to do is pique your prospect’s interest just enough that he’s willing to continue the call and let you ask some questions.
  2. To achieve that, you’ll need a value statement: Pretend you’re the prospect and ask yourself, “What’s in it for me?” “We’re offering a deal right now …” isn’t a value statement; it’s about the seller, not the prospect. Think of the “pain points” your prospect is feeling (the problems he has that your product or service solves). Start your opener with information on how you specialize in solving (pain point one) and (pain point two) by (now say what you do).
  3. And instead of offering a “guarantee” of something (such as: We can help you save money!) suggest you might be able to help your prospect solve (enter pain point here) depending on certain factors – and that to determine if you can help you would need to ask a few questions first. This transitions you into the discovery/probing phase of the sales cycle.

Instead of following bad advice to open aggressively and put your prospect on the defensive, try opening in a more engaging, relevant and interactive way. Your prospect will be at ease, and you’ll actually gain some information useful to evaluating the opportunity and making a sale. You’ll be amazed how the right opening script will really start opening doors.