Everything You Know About Sales Scripts Is Wrong Part 3 - Structuring the conversation
Welcome to part 3 of the Overpass series on sales scripts. In our last two installments, we provided an overview of sales scripts, and shared information on sales script conception and process. Now, let's get to what is involved in actually writing the script.
You won’t find here any “step by step” plan to lay out a script, because that would be self defeating. As stated earlier, a script is a guided conversation.
Words Said versus Words Meant
It’s vital to understand that a script and its use must be organic and listening based, especially on the phone. Often, prospects will want to meander and drag the conversation off topic. What they are really doing is undergoing their own internal process of weighing the pros and cons of what you are presenting. The prospect is having a conversation with themselves as well as with you, as they way the value propositions and rebuttals that you offer with their problem.
What this means is that you’ll need to be patient, and to develop your internal sense of what they prospect may be considering as you guide them through the script. This is something that salespeople develop with experience but that you can emulate by researching the prospect, studying data on the prospect gathered through prior interactions, and empathy. At appropriate breaks in the conversation you should look to find ways to guide the prospect back on track as outlined in your script.
Five steps of the conversation
Introduction - who you are, who you’re looking for
Before you even type the first word of your script, you need to be comfortable with your own company’s brand identity. More than just product knowledge, you need to be confident in what your brand and firm promise to prospects and other stakeholders. During a conversation, you can leverage this brand promise to create warmth in the conversation, and demonstrate what your company is proud of.
Also be clear with your intent when one of your reps call. A sale can not be tricked or forced, it must be agreed to. If the prospect makes it clear that you and they are not a good fit immediately, move on.
A gatekeeper is someone who controls access to your prospect, such as secretaries, personal assistants and lower ranking personnel. They exist to preserve the prospect’s valuable time and only allow access to people who they perceive as valuable to the prospect. Gatekeepers are not your enemy, but instead can be advocates to help you close the sale.
There are a number of tactics to overcome the objections of gatekeepers. Your script should include common techniques to ally with and justify to gatekeepers to gain access to the prospect, based on company research and the vertical. Empathy, honesty and patience are vital when dealing with gatekeepers as detailed in this Forbes article. Attempting to trick a gatekeeper can cost a sale.
The Short story - the problem and the solution
The short story is a basic description of your product and service, what you understand the client’s problem to be, and the solution. The story should be swift and to the point, both for the benefit of the sales rep and for the prospect.
There are three important factors to incorporate into the script’s copy and creating the short story:
1. Guided questioning to determine prospect’s pain points
This is arguably the heart of the script. A series of guided questions is used to both qualify the client and to illustrate aspects of your product or service that can solve the prospect’s problem. The questions should be based on the initial buyer persona and any intelligence you’ve uncovered.
Some examples of guided questions are -
“I see that you’re having trouble controlling your transportation costs. What effect would being able to cut your truck prep time in half have?”
“According to what you’ve told me, it seems as if client onboarding is a big deal. If this bottleneck could be eliminated - what effect would that your revenue?”
These questions of course should lead back to how your service or solution can help the prospect solve their problem.
2. Understand the story of your client’s business or situation
Another vitally important piece of the script, notes should be included on the typical buyer persona and the story that leads up to their pain point. The goal of the sales conversation and the script is to give that story a happy ending, with their pain point being resolved by your product or service. During the actual call, it’s important that the rep understands the prospect’s story more fully, via guided questioning. This enables the tailoring of a custom solution.
3. Tailor the solution to the prospect’s pain
Empathy and patience is key here. Make sure that your script provides in it’s guidelines ways to adjust the presentation of your product or service so that it is a unique solution for your prospect.
Presentation - features and benefits
Always relate back to the prospect’s problem.
Always come back to this in your script guidelines for your reps. Remember, it’s about the prospect’s problem and how you can solve it. Always make it about the prospect and their problems. There’s a tendency to make it about the product in sales presentations. Making it about solving the client’s problems can’t be overstated.
There is a process to overcome objections that we’ve discussed in an earlier blog post. We’re going to briefly go over them here:
Agree - acknowledge the customer’s concern
It’s vital to emphasize with the customer’s objections. The goal is not to engage in some kind of battle of wills or using a hard sales approach. Instead, this is the point where, in the script and conversation, negotiation takes place so that your solution can help the customer with their problem. The objection cycle helps make the sale because it determines how your answer can fit into their problem, leading to a mutually beneficial exchange. Empathy is vital here.
Turn around - address the concern, empathize, solve the problem
This is where empathy becomes problem solving. The script should contain common solutions to standard concerns brought up by prospects. It’s at this point that the conversation becomes about interfacing and adjusting your solution with the client’s problem so that their problem is a problem no longer. Of course, the conversation may bring up needs for unique solutions, but this is why the objection cycle exists.
Closing the objection - qualifying question that moves past the objection and opens a new thread
Qualifying questions are the tools in the script that finds spaces in the prospect’s problem and enables you or your representative to resolve the objection, make that answer part of the solution, and move on towards a new conversation thread that will identify further objections or move onto the close, once all objections have been resolved.
Make sure that this structure is incorporated into the guided questions and a copy of your script. The cycle of agree with concern–turn around–close and continue is essential towards creating trust, since objections are also a means of qualifying a client and getting to the bottom of their needs.
- Close (assuming the sale)
- Assuming the sale is a matter of confidence. If your sales pipeline has worked correctly and if the prospect has been qualified, then your offering is a good fit. Always assume that the sale will go through. Overcoming objections by this point should lead to the conclusion of the sale offer.
- Confirm agreement
- This is the close. At this point, next steps, purchase and implementation can be discussed.
The conversation doesn’t end with the first sale. The conversation is an ongoing one, since the end goal is to develop a permanent sales relationship. Details from this conversation should be used to develop further conversations and further script variants that can be used to help serve other customers. Every customer is a learning opportunity.
Our closing article will deal with testing and adjusting your script.Questions? Comments? Reach out to us at email@example.com