So you’ve got your list of prospects to call on.
Now, you need a plan to schedule more demos so you and your team can actually start selling.
Instead of winging it, use the blueprint below so you can have more confidence and consistency when setting demos / appointments.
In this post, we’ll cover exactly what to stay and how to overcome objections during a cold call.
At the end, there’s an appointment setting template for you to use — just fill in the blanks.
But for it to make complete sense, we need to start with first things first:
The Purpose of the Call is Simple: Schedule More Demos
Too many people lack clarity of intent when it comes to making cold calls to prospects.
The purpose of your initial call should be to set up a demo with the decision maker(s).
Don’t try to sell them anything on this call, and don’t get caught up in small talk.
Be smart and efficient by staying focused on your singular goal of getting them to commit to hopping on a call with you at a mutually agreed upon time.
It’s too hard to get your prospects’ time and attention in the first place in the modern digital age – they’re just too busy these days.
Most of the time, you aren’t going to be able to interrupt them, tell them about yourself and your company, and sell them on your products or services all in one call.
That’s why you’re going to separate asking for the demo (which takes about 5 minutes or less) from actually running the demo (which can take anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours, depending on your product or service).
But before that, you need to:
Start With a Positive Attitude
It’s crucial to have a positive attitude before you even start making calls.
When you are in a positive, confident mood, it comes across in your voice.
People can hear you smile, and they are constantly analyzing your vocal tonality subconsciously to determine if they like you and trust you.
Emotion is contagious, so be sure you are expressing the right emotions and making prospects happy they answered your call, not annoyed or angry.
When you are clear on your purpose for the call and have yourself in the right headspace, you are ready to pick up the phone and start dialing.
And this is the part where a lot of people get stuck. Most people don’t know how to schedule a demo because they simply don’t know what to say.
So below are the various steps with exact scripts to follow:
Step 1 of the Call: The Greeting
Your greeting is what will determine whether you advance forward in the call or get stopped in your tracks.
You have just a few seconds to make a great first impression, so use them wisely.
The point of the greeting is to communicate several pieces of information to your prospect as quickly as possible in a friendly way.
You’ll want to have your greeting memorized so that it’s second nature. That goes for the rest of your appointment setting script, but especially the greeting.
After all, if you can’t get past the greeting, then none of the subsequent steps matter.
Here are the pieces of information every greeting needs:
- Who you are
- What company you are with
- Why you are calling
- What your product / service is
- What you want from the prospect (hint: to set an appointment / demo)
Remember, you are interrupting this person in the middle of their day, so get to the point fast.
You need to answer the questions they will subconsciously have about you right off the bat or they could get frustrated with you and hang up.
Here is an example of a greeting for a web agency that is calling to schedule demos with potential clients:
“Hi, my name is John with ABC Web Agency. The reason I’m calling is that we’ve helped a number of companies in your industry improve their web presence and increase their conversions. I’d love to provide you with a free quote for a new website.”
Notice how the script above can be recited in less than 30 seconds and it answers all those subconscious questions.
The prospect now knows your name, what company you’re calling on behalf of, why you called them, what service you offer, and what you are trying to accomplish (offering them a quote).
But be careful. Even if you deliver this greeting perfectly, you’re not out of the woods yet.
If you pause too long after your greeting, the prospect’s socially conditioned response (say “no” to sales calls) will kick in and they’ll give you a variety of excuses that aren’t necessarily true or accurate (“not interested,” “right in the middle of something,” etc.).
You need to maintain control of the conversation by immediately asking them a question after your initial greeting, without pausing.
But that brings us into a different step in the appointment setting process: qualifying.
Step 2 of the Call: Qualification Questions
After your greeting, you need to immediately ask a question that moves the conversation forward.
Asking qualifying questions allows you to uncover the wants and needs of your prospect, see if they are even a true potential client of yours, and control the direction of the conversation.
After all, people buy things to solve problems. If they don’t have the problems that your product solves, then you’re wasting their time and yours.
Sometimes you have the luxury of inbound marketing that qualifies prospects for you in advance.
But we’re assuming that’s not the case for now.
So, in the greeting script above, after saying “I’d love to provide you with a free quote for a new website” you would follow up immediately, without pausing, by asking:
“Have you ever considered upgrading your website before?”
This way, instead of simply telling you they’re not interested (which they tend to do automatically if you hesitate), they are now pondering your question, thanks to a part of the brain called the reticular activating system that dictates what we focus on in a given moment.
In essence, you want to ask a variation of the following questions:
- Are they aware of a problem in this area?
- What is their main problem?
- Why is that a problem to them?
- When do they want to solve this problem by?
- How do they want the problem solved? (what specific things do they want to have or avoid in the solution?)
If you were calling on behalf of a web agency, the qualification sequence would look like this:
You: “Have you ever considered upgrading your website before?” (problem awareness)
Prospect: “Yes / No” (continue on your script, regardless of how they answer here)
You: “I see. A lot of our customers tell us they have issues with site speed and converting more customers, what kind of problems have you had with these areas?” (this tells you their what their hot buttons / main problems are. Notice how even if they did not say they were thinking of this problem yet, you are providing them with a few potential problems they might be facing and bringing their awareness to them. Be sure to note their problems on paper or in your CRM).
Prospect: “Well, we have been looking to improve our site speed.”
You: “Why is improved site speed important to you?” (repeat with question each issue they mention).
Prospect: “We understand that it boosts SEO, and we want to rank higher organically in the search engines.”
You: “How soon do you plan on fixing this issue?” (this gives you a timeline to judge the urgency they feel towards improving their situation. Again, take great notes so you can refer to them on the actual sales call.)
Prospect: “Well, it’s something we want to take care of in the next couple of months.”
You: “Okay. And what other specific features do you want your site to have?” (how do they want their final website to be?)
Prospect: “We definitely want to redesign our logo and add a live chat feature.”
You: “I see.” (always acknowledge their answers verbally).
Step 3 of the Call: Identify Decision Makers
Once you have gone through your qualification questions, you need a standard way to transition into the next part of the call where you will uncover additional decision makers that need to sign off on any kind of deal regarding your product or service.
This will tell you who you need to hop on the call with for your appointment:
You: “Other than yourself, who else would need to be involved with a decision of this kind?” (It’s helpful to imply that they are one of the decision makers, even if they aren’t. This helps you make friends with gatekeepers by respecting their ego while you ask for the names of the true decision makers).
Step 4 of the Call: Ask for the Appointment
Now you have uncovered: whether or not they are in the market, what their problems are, why they perceive these problems as important, when they want to solve these problems by, and how they want them solved.
You also know who the main decision makers are.
Thus, you are ready to come in with your big ask: the appointment.
But how you ask for the appointment is important. You need to frame it in terms of their problems and how they will benefit. Don’t talk about what you want.
Touch on the issues they mentioned to you, using those as the exact reasons that you should get together with the decision makers for an appointment:
You: “Well, [Prospect], based on what you told me about wanting to increase your site speed for more organic web traffic, improve your brand logo, and boost engagement with live chat, I think we should definitely schedule a quick 30-minute (or however long you need to sell your product) call so we can find out more about your goals and show you how our agency can help you accomplish them. How is tomorrow at 10am?”
Notice how assumptive this is. It assumes you should definitely have an appointment and even proposes a potential time.
Asking when is infinitely better than asking if they want to schedule a demo. After all, they just told you that they have the exact problems that your company solves. It would be irresponsible of you and of them to not explore how you can help them further.
As with everything in business, use your moral compass and be ethical: don’t lie about how long the call will take.
If it takes an hour to do your demo, don’t tell them it will only take 20 minutes.
This is a tactic that will quickly backfire on you and create a bad reputation for your company.
Besides, it’s just not the right thing to do.
Also, once you have agreed upon a time, ask your customer to confirm it physically.
By sending them an email with a link that adds it to their calendar and asking them to click it while you’re still on the phone.
This seemingly small act helps make them more committed to the appointment and reduces the percentage of flakes you get.
Prospect: “I can do 10am tomorrow.”
You: “Great, what’s your email? I’m going to send you the confirmation email right now along with the link for the video conference.”
Prospect: “It’s Prospect@example.com”
You: “Great, I just sent it. Can you do me a favor and click the confirmation link? That way it’ll be added to your calendar and we can reserve your time slot for 10am tomorrow on our end”
Prospect: “Sure. I just did it.”
Now, ask this simple question before closing out the call:
You: “[Prospect], is there any reason you wouldn’t be able to make it to our appointment tomorrow at 10am for the full 30 minutes?”
If they suggest that there could be a conflict, then reschedule right then and there. Otherwise, they have just committed to you twice that they are able to make the scheduled time.
A lot of people are afraid to ask this kind of question once they feel they’ve scheduled the appointment with the prospect.
They don’t want to come off as pushy or risk losing the appointment.
But ask yourself this: if they have an interfering obligation during that time, what’s the point of having a call at all?
You need to find out right now if there is a conflict you need to schedule around or an objection to overcome (more on objections in a minute).
Step 5 of the Call: Wrap It Up
Once you have the appointment set, it’s time to get off the phone quickly and cleanly.
You don’t want to fall into the trap of answering too many questions about your product or service, or going into sales mode on this introductory call.
You might think it helps you build your case as to why they should consider going with your product or service.
In contrast, it simply gives the prospect more reasons to say no to you before they even understand the kind of value you can bring to the table.
So avoid hanging around on the phone after they have verbally and physically committed to the appointment time.
Use a simple, professional line to hop off the phone and keep the appointment alive:
You: “Great. I’ve got you down for tomorrow at 10am to talk more about your website goals and show you what we do to see if we’re a good fit. Thanks for your time today [Prospect], and we’ll see you then.”
Prospect: “Okay, thanks. See you then.”
Schedule More Demos by Mastering Objections
In an ideal world, you would simply follow the script and get a solid appointment every time without any pushback from your prospect.
However, you should expect most of your prospects to have objections (excuses) to not setting an appointment with you.
Thus, the scripting above is simply the bare minimum – the “skeleton” – that needs to be covered during the call.
But alone it is not sufficient. You’ll need to overcome one or more objections on most appointment setting calls.
Contrary to popular belief, objections are not a bad thing either: they are a sign that your prospect is interested but has some concerns that need to be addressed.
If they weren’t interested, they wouldn’t offer any objections at all, they would simply hang up.
However, if you don’t know how to handle these little bumps in the road called objections, then they can be deadly to scheduling more demos.
The A-T-A Method
You will notice a common theme in overcoming objections below. They all take on the form of A-T-A.
- Step 1 is to always Acknowledge or agree with the prospect. This shows empathy for their perspective.
- Step 2 is to quickly Transition into the reasons why they should reconsider and refocusing them on the real issues at hand.
- Step 3 is to Ask a question again. Ask them for the appointment, ask them to move forward, ask them about another problem they have. Ask anything that will keep them talking and focus their mind on fixing their problems, not running from them.
The one asking questions (and actually getting answers) is the one in control of the conversation.
If you fit all of your rebuttals around the A-T-A framework, you will set more appointments and your results will go up immensely.
Here are 6 common objections you will encounter when setting appointments, along with specific rebuttal word tracks that you can use right away, with minimal tweaking, for your own business.
Objection #1: “We already use another company / product / service”
You: “I understand, and most of our current customers were already using another company when we called them. But my goal is to simply provide you with new information to show you that there might be a better alternative. Plus it will only take a few minutes of your time. If after our call you don’t feel that we are a better fit, we’ll accept a “no” just as professionally as we would accept a “yes.” Does that sound reasonable?”
Objection #2: “I’m busy / Call me next week, next month, etc.”
You: “I understand how busy you must be. That’s exactly why we’re so flexible with our appointment schedule. Surely we can find a time that works for you. Now what time of day typically works best for you?”
Objection #3: “I need to talk to my partner or other decision maker”
You: “Great, and who is that? (write down their name) And they’re aware of the need for a solution in this area, correct? (wait for answer, but move forward just the same regardless) Then we definitely should hop on a call. Here’s what we’ll do: we’ll prepare a detailed summary of our call afterwards so that you and [other decision maker] can make the best decision together with all of the right information. Fair enough?”
Objection #4: “We don’t have the budget for that right now”
You: “I completely understand. That’s exactly why we should get together on a call, so that you can have all the information, including an exact price, to plan and budget for this properly when you are ready to go forward. That makes sense, doesn’t it?”
Objection #5: “I’m Not Interested”
You: “And I wouldn’t expect you to be, [Prospect]. You don’t have enough information to be interested yet. But I promise not to waste your time. If you give me just 30 minutes, I’ll show you how we can help you in a really impactful way, just like we have for our current clients. Now we have next Monday at 10, Tuesday at 2, or Thursday at 3 available for a quick call. Which works best for you?”
(If the prospect insists that they have no problems in the areas that you solve, then move on politely, but not without trying one more time to probe their potential problems:)
Prospect: “Honestly, we don’t have any issues at all regarding this area.”
You: “I understand. But what if I told you we could [provide x service better, with less problems / costs]?”
If the prospect still says no, then move on to a better qualified prospect. If they express curiosity or interest, congratulations: you’re still in the game.
Objection #6: “Send some information over”
You: “I’d be happy to do that. However, there is a lot of dense information to read over and I don’t want to waste your valuable time, so a quick video call would be a lot more productive for you and help you get an answer to any questions you have, including price. So what’s the best time of day for you typically?”
Putting it All Together
Now you know how to approach a cold call to set a demo and you have exact words to use for your very own script, including how to overcome objections.
Now let’s put the core script together in one smooth template (and remember that during any point you may need to handle an objection and loop back to the part of the core script that got interrupted):
You: “Hi, my name is [first name] with [company]. The reason I’m calling is [we provide x product or service for y industry, and you’re in the industry]. I’d love to [offer free quote / chat ].”
You: “Have you ever considered [our type of product or service before? ]”
Prospect: “Yes” / “No”
You: “I see. A lot of our customers tell us they have issues with [common industry problem #1 and common industry problem #2] what kind of problems have you had with these areas?”
Prospect: “Well [we have problem #1]”
You: “I see. And why is [solving the problem] important to you?” (repeat with each issue they mention).
Prospect: “[Expresses their hot button / main reason for wanting to solve the problem]”
You: “Okay. And when do you plan on [fixing this issue / moving ahead with a solution]?”
Prospect: “Well, it’s something we want to take care of by [deadline]”
You: “Okay. And what other specific [features or benefits] do you want in your [new solution / situation] that your current [solution / situation] doesn’t have?”
Prospect: “We want [ to have x feature] and we want to avoid [ y problem with current solution / provider].”
You: “I see.”
Identify Decision Makers
You: “Other than yourself, who else would need to be involved with a decision of this kind?”
Ask for the Appointment
You: “Well, [Prospect], based on what you told me about [problems you are having], I think we should definitely schedule a quick [call length: 15 minutes, 1 hour, etc.] call so we can find out more about your goals and show you how [our company] can help you accomplish them. How is [proposed appointment time]?”
Prospect: “I can do [appointment time]”
You: “Great, what’s your email? I’m going to send you the confirmation email right now along with the link for the video conference.”
Prospect: “It’s [ Prospect’s email address]”
You: “Great, I just sent it. Can you do me a favor and click the confirmation link – that way it’ll be added to your calendar and we can reserve your time slot for [appointment time] on our end”
Prospect: “Sure. I just did it.”
Lock Down the Appointment and Get Off the Phone
You: “[Prospect], is there any reason you wouldn’t be able to make it to our appointment tomorrow at [appointment time] for the full [call length]?”
You: “Great. I’ve got you down for tomorrow at [appointment time] to talk more about your [current issues / goals] and show you what we do to see if we’re a good fit. Thanks for your time today [Prospect], and we’ll see you then.”
Prospect: “Okay, thanks. See you then.”
Getting the Most Out of Your Script
If you use the appointment setting template above and fill in the blanks for your own business, you can set more solid appointments and demos than ever before.
However, there is no magic pill when it comes to sales and marketing.
You’ll need to spend time rehearsing your script, as well your rebuttals to objections, if you want to see any value from it.
So treat your appointment setting process with the respect it deserves: create a tight pitch that can be replicated again and again by you or your team members.
Not only will you have more prospects in the pipeline for your sales team to close, but they will have a higher success rate thanks to knowing the dominant buying motives of leads that have been professionally and systematically qualified in advance.