For those who aren’t natural salespeople, a script can be a great way to get started. It provides a sense of control over the conversation as well as preparedness, and often makes new sales professionals feel much more confident when making a prospecting call. This feeling comes with a price, however; those who become reliant on a call script can often end up feeling nervous or exposed without it, and when a call begins to deviate from the script, it can become difficult for these novices to proceed in the conversation.
To harness the power of a script without sacrificing flexibility is difficult and requires significant preparation. Read on to learn some things you can do to improve your sales script and make it hold up better when deployed in the real world. Some of these you can do at any time; others will require you to try it a few times and see what works.
Include some answers to common questions as an appendix.
People can often smell a sales script from a mile away, and some choose to subtly put the interaction off the script by asking innocuous questions. Sometimes these will be about the product or service, while others may be about the caller. Either way, consider putting some common answers to the side of the proper script, just in case someone catches you off guard or attempts to divert the interaction.
Consider adding a few branches for common responses.
While an ideal sales script doesn’t leave too much room for a potential customer to escape, customers may not respond in the expected manner. Some recommend setting a script up to render a customer’s answer irrelevant, but customers are likely to sense this. Actively responding, however, will make a stronger impression on the customer and ultimately lead to better results.
Practice, practice, practice.
Practice any script with as many people as possible. Encourage them to try to divert the script and respond unconventionally. This can point out holes in the script, which can be fixed either by changing the whole script or by implementing some of the other changes mentioned in this article. Showing the full script to the participants afterward can also lead to improvements, as they may pick up on additional weaknesses that wouldn’t come out even in several dry runs of the script.
Make it flexible.
If you have information on the prospective customer, use it. If your company collects information through a CRM program, find places to slot in some of the common pieces of information you have. This can help a script stay effective with a wider range of customers, as it makes the customer feel as though the interaction is more personal. Consider performing some pre-call research and finding a place in the script to slot in the particulars.
Make the script feel like something you’d actually say.
Again, people can sniff out scripts that feel unnatural for the speaker, so inject a little personality into the script. This way, if the prospect starts to to go off-script a little to make idle conversation or ask a question, it’ll feel less unnatural when the answer comes. Review any script that someone else helps with, because these are likely to contain turns of phrase that don’t feel natural.
Consider asking your industry contacts.
If you know people in the industries you sell to who aren’t your customers, ask them outright what tends to get their interest going. This can give novices a sense of what people in the industry are really looking for from the inside, rather than having to guess or base their script solely on their own experiences.
There are always improvements to be made, especially in sales. Whether a call ultimately results in success or failure, assess what went right and what went wrong. Even if a script is consistently succeeding, consider trying some minor permutations of it. That way, if something starts to go sour, the original script can salvage what’s starting to seem like a bad attempt.
What do you think?
Eventually some salespeople ditch scripts entirely, favoring an approach that tailors every interaction to the client, but a script can help those just starting out feel much more ready to deal with a prospect. Have you used a sales script, or helped someone else prepare one? Do you have good advice for other new salespeople? Let us hear about your experiences in the comments.