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How to Build a Cold Calling Script for Writers

writers voice megaphoneIn an article called Cold Calling Tips for Freelance Writers I outline an approach to telemarketing that may help freelance writers when they realize cold calling can work for them.

Good telemarketing scripts get built rather than written all at once because you can never be sure what the other person will say. A key portion is what might be also called your ‘elevator pitch.’ That’s the short, clear statement of what you’re actually offering.

This one assumes you’re calling a large or business with a receptionist or other gate keeper.

Hi, my name is Anne Wayman. Who would I talk to about some writing?

This is deliberately vague. Often the gate keeper will be slightly confused, not sure if you’re offering writing or wanting someone there to do some writing. Your goal, of course, is to at least get the name of someone at the company who can hire you, or tell you who can hire you. Be prepared to write that name down!

Thanks, may I speak to Mr. Smith?

If he’s not there ask:

What’s his direct extension? When is a good time to reach him? Be sure you write this down too.

When you reach Mr. Smith:

Hi Mr. Smith, my name is Anne Wayman; I’m an expert in writing great copy for the web and wanted to talk with you about your website content. (Or whatever kind of writing your offering.)

Now just shut up and wait until he speaks. Oh don’t take it to extremes, but you’ll learn much more if you wait until they speak and you need to give them time to think through what you said. Remember, you’ve dropped in unannounced.

What you say next depends on what Mr. Smith says.


If, for example, he asks for more information, you know he’s probably interested. It’s often okay to ask for information in return, like clarification on what they do, or what kind of writing they may need.

If he asks for your rate you can either just state it, or state a range, or say something like

I need to know a bit more about the project before I can quote it.

Both statements of interest are known among sales people as “buying signals.” And one of the keys to successful cold calling to to ask for the sale.

Keep in mind that you’re offering to help so don’t assume that if he says ‘no’ on the first call it means no forever. Some experts say you need to make contact between 7 and 10 times to make a sale.

What about voice mail? Voice mail is really another sales opportunity. Leave your name, elevator pitch, and phone number clearly, and mark it on your records as left a message.

The bottom line: Write down what you think you want to say and be as flexible as possible as you make your first calls. You’ll soon know what you need to adjust.

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Image from http://www.sxc.hu


{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Ann, this series of articles is so helpful! I’ve been subscribing to your newsletter for several months now, but somehow this is the first time I’ve gotten around to posting a reply. I’m just starting out on my own, and have spent the last two months or so developing my business plan. I’m finally at the point where I’m beginning to attend networking events, and I plan on starting to cold call in a couple weeks. It’s a scary prospect, but, like pitching my elevator speech to strangers at networking meetings, I’m sure it will get easier.

    Just wanted to let you know how helpful and informative your newsletter is. Oh yes, and I love the new look!

    • Anne

      Thanks Caroline… cold calling is scary, but after I make the first call it isn’t so bad, usually. Good luck, and keep us posted.

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