Pros and Cons of a Sales Script
As a coach, I have been in over 2,500 workshops with salespeople. I have written every script under the sun, for every industry, and have learned a few things about scripts that I thought I would share with the salespeople that read these scripts.
Let me start by saying, I HATE SCRIPTS. Having to write them, train them, read them, enforce them….it’s exhausting. I have never seen a script do someone’s job as well as they can do it themselves when they are allowed to think for themselves. Nonetheless, I use them everyday. Why I hate scripts is because of the flaws of a typical sales script. First of all, scripts are often written by someone other than the person reading them. If that person hasn’t made a call in 6 months, they are out of the loop on how well this will work. As a coach, to stay current, I take the time to make about 50 sales calls a week, minimum. This allows me to stay fresh on industry trends. Even if I am on the phones all the time, and know all the right best practices, they rarely make it into a script. They don’t get into the script because the average sales manager believes their skillset is greater than that of the sales team and are in some way responsible for the success of the call, not the script.
If you are writing a script, you should take the time to make sales calls with the script, not the talent. When you are building a script, you should be willing to lose deals in order to perfect a script. If what you say is written down, and that has the best response, you are dependent on the script and not the talent. When you are not dependent on the talent, you have the problem of how the talent adapts a script. This is the largest problem in scripting. I have my own background, my own vocabulary, my own theories on sales, etc. The salesperson I write the script for, the same. So when a prospect is on the call with a salesperson that has just introduced themselves for the first time (cause they had to go off script and say something in their own words), it is apparent a salesperson is reading a script, and the illusion of sales process and control slip away from a salesperson, and the call gets harder.
If you are going to read a script not written by you, you should rewrite it. Take the time to work through how you would say each of the short stories you need to tell in order to get a person on the phone to buy from you. What words would you use, what theories would you share, what makes you standout as a personality? Put these things in your script, and keep me (or whoever wrote your script) off your phone.
Last flaw of a script, is that it removes thinking from the sales call, and a salesperson can get “in a rut” making calls they themselves aren’t paying attention too. Making sure you are staying alert when dialing makes it easier to stay out of a rut. If you are making 25 calls in an hour, slow down, and read with passion and intent. Don’t get to the end of the script cause it’s the point where you get to sell and be yourself, do that throughout the call.
Saying all of this means scripts are terrible and should be thrown out, right? Not necessarily. Scripts can be good for teaching a sales team to control the message, stay consistent, and eliminates all the things a team is saying that does not get them any closer to the sale. A well written script with all the right best practices in it can give a management team a lot to coach from. When everyone is saying the same thing, for the same reasons, you can take a team and push them by taking the learnings from previous calls and informing your training process. Hear a salesperson on your team say something that can help everyone, you can carry that over to a training module, let everyone know, or better yet, allow the salesperson to use it to train their teammates, which will encourage a culture of fostering change and improvement.
No matter the script, it has to be practiced. I have a record player at home and really enjoy listening to some of my favorite records from my childhood and today. When you put a record on the player, you line up the needle, and it starts to play. It plays from the first song to the last on that side, before you can flip it and start over. This is a lot like the way a salesperson reads a script. They read line 1, and then line 2 and are hung up on. They read lines 1-3, and are hung up on. They read lines 1 and 2, and are hung up on. By the time they get to line 4, it is a stranger to the intimacy they have with the first line of the script. In order to get all the script to come out as a cohesive thought, you need to know what you just said, what you are about to say, and where you are going with your thoughts. When I have a new team practice a script, they do it in what I call leapfrog practice.
Here is how to get your team to use this too:
Number each line in your script. Start at 1, and each new line gets a new number. Let’s say your script starts at 1 and goes to 10. Have your sales team start at the top and practice from 1-10 in order. Once this is done, have them go back to the top and starting with 1, do only odds. 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9. Then back to the top, and do only evens. 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10. Then do this from the bottom up, start at 10 and go backwards to 1. Then back to the bottom and read only the odds. 9, 7, 5, 3, and then 1. Then just the evens. 10, 8, 6, 4 and 2. This method will help them know each part of the script alone and in an order that they can make work for them on the call when it matters.
Do this and let me know how it helped.