Welcome to the Overpass series on sales scripts!
Most everyone gets phone sales scripts wrong. In this four part series, we teach you how to use them right. What follows is an overview on sales scripts, including what sales scripts are, history of sales scripts, how to use sales scripts effectively and so on.
What is a sales script?
A sales script is defined as:
“...a prescribed set of talking points that are commonly used by telemarketers and inside sales reps when speaking to prospects. “
We feel that this is a correct definition, to a point. We feel that a better definition is that a sales script is a series of guided questions that enable you to find what the client needs and to develop a solution to their problem
Sales, in our view, is really about talking to people who want you to talk to them and giving them the help they need. The hard sell, hostile approach of Alec Baldwin’s character in Glen Garry Glen Ross is a piece of sales mythology that has never really worked.
Instead, phone sales scripts are several things:
- Sales scripts are frameworks for sales conversations, not something you read at a prospect. A great sales script is a discovery tool that can help you discover what exactly a client needs and qualify them as a good fit.
- The best sales scripts set you free and are invisible. Sales scripts are best thought of as the platform for a sales conversation. With a well practice sales script, you have a set of questions, rebuttals and guidelines that can help you discover the client’s needs and overcome resistance.
- Telephone sales scripts present unique challenges. Telephone sales scripts are somewhat different in structure, because of the lack of physical presence, subtle body language cues and how the phone changes the voice.
The history of sales scripts and selling
Sales training hasn’t always been scientific and systematic. Like anything else, sales training has developed over the years. However, sales scripts and telephone sales go back to the 1950’s, starting with firms like Dial America.
Phone sales and sales training have a fascinating history:
Sales script training goes back to the 1930s and was a big part of sales training all the way up until recently. Much of the litany of sales training was to create a standardised list of talking points and to engage in shotgun style sales - a method of selling that relies on not knowing a thing about customers. Often, sales training was merely some product training and a script, not an actual methodological system for closing sales based on research.
Bad sales training and scripts seek only to talk at the customer and not really have a conversation with them. This shotgun style of training relies more on bulk calling and getting lucky instead of using rational sales method and structure.
Why sales scripts suck if you use them wrong
Unfortunately, many sales professionals retain the old mentality and habits associated with sales scripts. Below are some problems and examples of how sales scripts are used incorrectly:
- Many sales professionals and managers use scripts as a crutch to avoid actually engaging with prospects. Bad sales people talk. Good sales people listen.
- Sales scripts are about conversations. These days, prospects are better educated and more knowledgeable than ever, with 94% performing online research before making a purchasing decision
The basics of the conversation
Conversations should be a discovery process, and the sales script helps as a guide towards that discovery. Questions control the conversation, and good sales scripts give questions to ask.
The questions should be based on the buyer personas that you or your marketing have assembled, as well as the circumstances that have lead the prospect to you in the first place.
The script should be a structured conversation, with a narrative and an end goal of closing the sale or moving the client on to something else that helps them solve their problem.
Sales script as training tool
Sales scripts can be an amazing training tool for salespeople. The end goal should be to know the structure of the script so well that the salesperson doesn’t to refer to the script ever again.
The importance of developing a rational sales structure can’t be emphasized enough, and understanding how your sales flow works goes hand in hand with sales script development. We talk about this at length in this piece on managing the remote sales process.
Good scripts can also train salespeople in how to control the flow of a sales conversation, by way of qualifying questions and establishing credibility with great content and facts. Good scripts can help you overcome objections and serve your customer better.
Scripts are a good way to train actual speaking and presentation skills. Performing role plays and reading scripts aloud is a great way to develop confidence, poise and comfort with phone work. Many salespeople don’t have training in actually how to present over the phone and scripts can help remedy that - in addition to practice, role plays, and so on.
Sales script as relationship builder
Finally, the questions in a sales script, if applied with empathy and care, can help a prospect open up about the challenges that face their business. It must be understood that the purpose of a sales script and ultimately of a salesperson is to identify and help the prospect resolve their business challenges. These insights can be used to improve products and services, and is good for both parties. Creating a long term customer as opposed to closing a short term sale should be the long term sales goal.
In our next article, we will teach you how to personalize your scripts towards your prospects. The more personalized and relevant you make the conversation, the better conversations you will have.
Questions? Comments? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet to @weareoverpass