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The cold call is a time-honored way to find new opportunities and clients, but like many long-standing practices, we sometimes view it very narrowly. Methods for cold calling can differ; how the task is accomplished is up to you.

For many of us, there’s a certain level of security in having a script for making calls. We feel prepared for various questions or objections that the prospect might make, and scripts provide some structure to keep us on track even if we get flustered.  There are a plethora of services providing scripts and templates that are a “magic” solution to cold calling.

The desire for a cold calling script is understandable, but do you really need one to get results?  Certainly not. In fact, there are some compelling reasons for abandoning scripts all together. Ari Galper advises us to ask these questions:

  • How do you really feel when you use a script?
  • How do your prospects feel when they know you’re using a script? (And they do know.)
  • Most important, how many sales are you losing because you’re using a script?

If your own experiences with using scripts are not particularly positive, and they’re not enhancing your ability to connect, then you should consider working without one. Here are some ways that ditching the script can be make prospecting easier and more productive.

#1. Look for needs

A cold call should be a conversation, not a pitch. Scripts can make prospects defensive because they focus on what you can do for the customer rather than what the customer needs.

You don’t need a script to be a good listener. Come up with a few open-ended questions that you can use to get the prospect talking about their business and situation, and then LISTEN.

#2. Use your long game

Your goal in calling is to create an opening and start a relationship, not make a sale. Particularly in real estate, client relationships are a long-term proposition.  Working without a script makes for more authentic connection and allows each conversation to be unique, so it’s tailored to the person on the other end of the line.

#3. Be more nimble

A problem with using a linear script is that it can’t anticipate all of the twists and turns that a call can take. Relying on the script can leave you flummoxed as to how to proceed if the conversation takes an unexpected turn. By keeping in mind your goals for the call (find out more about the prospect and open the door for future contact), your course is clear.

Many in the industry recommend using a script only as a backup. This point was made in an interesting discussion on Quora:

…use scripts as a fall back, not as gospel. The purpose of script is that when   someone says something that is confrontational, rude, challenging or otherwise makes you nervous or throws you off your game, instead of freezing up, you have something you can say confidently instead of stuttering like an idiot.

Nobody wants that. But rest assured that even with the most bulletproof script there will be calls that don’t go well and leave you feeling frazzled. Keep at it, learn from your mistakes, “fail forward,” and you will get results.