Another Cold Call Script, This Time From A Negotiator

An author and trainer of negotiation skills for the workplace, Jim Camp, documents an example of a cold call intro.

From a long line of disturbingly similar ‘first-ten-second’ scripts. (Here’s a selection from down the years, from Richard White‘s around the middle of the post, Steve Schiffman, Dirk Zeller, sort of, and just for fun, excerpts of an ongoing pitch from the Wolf of Wall St movie and a real-life call centre training example.)

His key pillar seems to embrace hearing a “no” from those the other side of the table.

This trope is well trodden. It is definitely true that negotiation starts, not ends, with a ‘no’.

The classic metaphor being with children never stopping when their parent says no. They see it as merely the beginning. Keeping on going to get what they want, or a flavour of it.

He also rails against (the in my experience rare occurrence of) the enforced ‘yes’. Suggesting deals done under duress fall apart. Which is also on the money.

What really struck me, was his example, using an initial approach. The underlying logic being;

If the salesperson had invited you to say “no,” however, you would have gladly listened to the pitch. This is the power of “no.”

You will be amazed at how inviting a prospect to say “no” relieves pressure and turns sceptical opponents into willing partners.

He wants us to ‘take this for a test drive’. ‘Invite the adversary to say no’;

“Well, Ms. Smith, I have no idea whether what we do has any relevance for your business. I just don’t know. Maybe it doesn’t. If not, just tell me and I’ll get off the phone. Is that fair? Ms. Smith, who handles your accounting services? I’m with Acme Financial Services, and I’d like the opportunity to sit down with you and allow you to discover the opportunities.”

This guy’s clearly never cold called in England.

The only aspect of this that works, is that when you display a nonchalance (not an arrogance, but emanating an absence of desperation) of ‘who knows…’ suspects do relax a tad. As they are so conditioned to the hard sell pushiness, it can come as quite the relief. But be wary of those who feel you ought have some indication of the business you’re calling’s use for your wares.

The ‘is that fair’ line sounds a cousin of the ‘are you open to…’ objection handle tactic. What reasonable person could possibly say ‘no’ to that, right? My feeling is that you’d be unpleasantly surprised…

There’s also an echo of the “have I caught you at a bad time?” intro, which apparently hardly ever leads to a ‘yes’ and kicks off a listening ear. Yet, again, I’ve found several people willing to say ‘yep’ and end proceedings.

Perhaps the second half is the worst element. Absolutely no ‘problem’ framing. Oh dear.

Still, whatever my overall scepticism, there is always something positive in setting up your discussions with prospects by crafting the expectation that they can dismiss your ideas, and you’re cool with that. Just don’t go using this precise script when prospecting.

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