Sales prospecting expert Art Sobczak clears up the misconceptions that give sales scripts a bad rap and provides a checklist to ensure your reps nail their calls.
Any time I hear or read a sales trainer, manager, or a rep demean the use of sales scripts, they lose credibility with me. Sometimes the problem is in their definition and perception of a sales script, which usually has more to do with the delivery, such as reading something in a monotone voice.
In that case, I agree. Kids like to be read to, adults don’t.
I suggest you look at a script like an actor, and deliver it the same way. Otherwise, “winging it” and generally being unprepared usually yields horrible results.
It’s actually kind of a contradiction. Many people who don’t like scripts feel that way because they say scripts cause a person to sound like a doofus. Well, what happens when someone gets on a call, unprepared, rambles, stutters and stammers? Yup, doofus. Really, if you are able to prepare for what you’ll say, and then edit, practice, and fine-tune it, why wouldn’t you?
You wouldn’t turn in a rough draft if you were going to write a very high-profile article in your industry publication would you? But a rough draft is precisely what you deliver when you aren’t totally prepared on calls.
Every day, salespeople insist on diving blindly into calls, and puking all over themselves with the first words that come to mind. Would a surgeon walk into an operating room, slap on the gloves and say, “OK, give me the knife. By the way, what are we doing with this guy?” Would a lawyer dash into a trial, pop open a briefcase, begin an opening argument, then turn and whisper to the client, “What are we working on here again?” In either case, I hope not.
In my inside sales training and cold call training programs, we work on how to craft the persuasive, natural-sounding script that is easy to deliver, and gets results. Then reps must be prepared to deliver it at the right moment.
Let’s grade your level of preparedness as of right now in each of these areas:
Screeners and Assistants
Want more insights to take your outbound prospecting to the next level?
- When Should You Make Your Sales Calls by S. Anthony Iannarino
- Using Social Media to Prep Your Next Sales Call by Bill Rice
- Listen Up: How to Improve Sales Presentations with Call Listening by OpenView’s Kim Reisman
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Can you instantly provide a response to the question, “What is this in reference to?” — and I mean a good, results-oriented answer, not one that gets you screened out?
Opening Statements and Voice Mail
These most certainly need to be prepared, word-for-word.
Ever hear, “I’m not interested,” at the beginning of a call? Are you able to breeze past this reflex response – which isn’t a real objection, by the way – and engage them in conversation, moving them to a state of interest and curiosity?
Unexpected Answers to Questions
We’re all able to build sales momentum when they follow the script we’d like — answering questions with the positive, interest-filled responses that lead to our objective. But what about the ones we DON’T want? The ones that resemble a hard-drive crash, wiping away all of your memory.
Too many sales reps dread objections because they feel that to deal with them they must “overcome” them with a canned, argumentative answer. Those types of “rebuttals” actually throw gasoline on the fire. Instead, we must be prepared with questions.
In each of these areas, I recommend the same prescription for excellence: work and preparation. There’s no easy way to sound smooth.
A sales rep told me at a recent training seminar, “You make it look so easy, coming up with quick answers. How do you do it?”
Oh, it was easy, I told him. After almost 30 years, over 1500 sales training presentations, thousands of sales calls, and thousands of hours of writing, reading, and practicing, it just comes naturally.
C’mon, no one is naturally smooth. Although almost everyone can sound that way. But we must be un-smooth and uncomfortable first. Before you can golf in the 80′s, you go through the 90′s.
If you want to raise yourself to the next level, go back to the basics and beyond.
- Lock yourself in a room with a pad of paper. Begin by writing out the headings above, and any other difficult situations you encounter.
- Stretch, knead, and rack your mind until you create word-for-word statements, responses, and questions you’re comfortable with.
- Go to the next level. Like a military strategist preparing for all possible scenarios, brainstorm for their possible responses. Keep repeating the process. Then practice it out loud. Role play with a partner.
- Recite – don’t read – into a recorder.
What’s great about this is that the more you practice, the better you become, which means better results. Which means you have more fun on calls. Which also means you’re more confident.
And people will be saying about you, “You sound so smooth! You’re a natural.” Thanks to your scripts.
What’s your take?
Do you use sales scripts and do you swear by them? How do you prepare for a call?