Why Your Sales Scripts Should Be Guidelines – Not Rigid Rules
The subject of scripts in sales can be divisive. One viewpoint is that sales scripts result in rote conversations that are disconnected from the organic way conversation operates. The other school of thought is that scripts are necessary to provide a grounding for sales reps and a consistent customer experience. Both sides have valid points – sales scripts can be a useful framework and guide, but should not function as the end-all, be-all.
- No script can predict every possible turn a conversation takes.
Although you can prepare for and anticipate many of the most likely routes a sales call will take, you can’t account for every possibility. And if you could, the script would be about as long as War and Peace. To be the most effective sales rep possible, you need to be flexible – able to adjust to the conversation’s contours.
- Script voice is a thing – and it’s not good.
I’ve listened to and taken part in more sales calls than I can count over the course of my career. I can just about always tell when a rep is using a strict script. Their voice changes into something artificial and automated (not unlike the AI chatbots many organizations are now using as a first line of service). With artifice can come the possibility of the customer feeling like they’re not being heard or listened to.
- A sales script frequently fails to account for differences in communication styles.
Not every customer has the same communication style, even if a certain style might have plurality in your target market. Sales scripts are often written for the primary communication style in an organization’s market. The problem is, not everyone is that style – which can translate into a poor customer experience if the script doesn’t fit the customer’s preferred style.
The counterargument to this is that sales scripts are a useful tool for standardizing customer experiences and sales processes – and especially helpful for onboarding sales reps. These are excellent points and if your organization is one that could benefit from them, then read on for suggestions of how to design and implement them.
- Identify the objectives for each sales call type.
Every sales call has a main overall goal – whether it’s book a meeting, engage in discovery, close the deal, etc. The path to reaching that goal comes with meeting objectives along the way – such as qualifying a prospect according to criteria, learning more about a customer’s situation, uncovering objections, etc.
For each sales call type, map out both the primary goal and the objectives that lead up to successful goal completion. A chronological order of objectives is a good idea – after all, it wouldn’t make much sense to ask about a prospect’s availability for a demo before qualifying them, for example.
- Help sales reps personalize the script within the boundaries of your standards and messaging.
One of the best ways to make scripts effective is to give sales reps the lassitude to craft the text in a way that fits their communication habits yet is flexible enough that it can be changed on the fly to fit a customer’s communication style. Of course, you’ll want to make sure this customization meets the expectations of your organization.
- Roleplay the finalized script with reps, using different buyer personas in simulations.
Once you’ve set the script (which will be much more general than the rote line-by-line recitation if you’re following this guide), practice it with reps, changing up the buyer persona (obviously they should be the personas you’ve identified as being present in your market). These roleplays will not only give reps practice with the script, it’ll allow them to spot where they need to make changes to align with things like communication styles.
- Support the script with sales training.
Best-in-class sales organizations who opt for scripts support the initiative with sales training to give their reps the skills to be able to think on their feet. Because no sales call goes exactly the same way, top performers are able to adapt and shift as the situation requires. And the route to that flexibility comes with customized training that’s tailored to your company and its sales process. You can learn more about our sales training programs here.
Whether you use sales scripts or opt for other ways of formalizing buyer/sales rep interactions within your process, it’s important to allow for flexibility and adapting to each unique customer and conversation. Then you can be sure that your buyers feel heard and a genuine relationship can be formed.
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