Prospects can tell when you use a sales call script.
By now, they must be pros at identifying such communications coming their way. When it sounds like narration rather than a conversation, you make your prospects feel like mere names on a list.
They likely roll their eyes and move on with their day after brushing you off. It could be a polite brush-off, such as “email me the information,” or an abrupt hang-up.
Not good news for the cold callers!
So, what gives?
- Should You Ditch Call Scripts?
- Focus on the Prospect, Not the Product
- Listen More Than You Talk
- Don’t Force Your Script
- How to Avoid Sounding Scripted on Your Sales Calls
- Are you ready to walk this talk?
Should You Ditch Call Scripts?
Does this mean you need to do away with scripts altogether and rely on spontaneity alone?
Not every sales rep is a rock star who can spontaneously carry out crisp and meaningful conversations with strangers.
However, even rock star reps need a script at some level. Seasoned salespeople may not be as dependent on a script as new reps, but they use scripts to organize their thoughts and then let the conversation flow naturally.
Either way, phone scripts are here to stay, and they belong here. The problem is not the writeup itself (not counting the poorly written ones).
The issue is “sounding like you’re reading a cold call script.”
“I love it when I talk to a sales professional who sounds like a robot,” said no prospect ever.
Selling is an emotional as well as an intellectual endeavor, and robots do not emote, which is precisely the reason why prospects respond to personalization. Reading makes it seem like you don’t know what you are talking about and lack knowledge. So why should the prospect listen to you?
The trick is to ensure that only you can “see” the script.
Never let the prospect suspect that somebody else authored what you’re saying.
But how do you do that?
Focus on the Prospect, Not the Product
The most important thing to remember when developing inside sales scripts is this; you have to address “what’s in it for me?” (WIIFM) from the prospect’s perspective.
Nobody enjoys the aggressive blowhard at a party who brags too long and too loudly about him or herself.
That person likely ends up in the corner alone – or worse, chasing down people all evening who don’t want to be bothered. Don’t allow your script to make your reps sound like the inside sales equivalents of that idiot.
Instead, your script should help reps focus on what is most important to the people whom they’re calling.
Remember this saying: selling isn’t telling as you read through your script.
If you are telling prospects more things than you’re asking them about, you should carefully consider making some changes.
Listen More Than You Talk
Did you know there’s a very useful button on your phone that can help you become a better salesperson?
Any guesses what that button is?
It’s the mute button.
Why is it so magical?
Because it can stop you from accidentally talking yourself out of a sale. It forces you to be quiet and listen.
During a call, particularly when you’re following a script, it’s easy to get carried away when you’re trying to make sure you cover all the points. A great sales script has questions that help you uncover information about your prospect and his or her needs.
What good are those questions, though, if you don’t pause to let your contact fully answer?
By using the mute button after posing a question, you give the prospect time to elaborate before you jump back in with your next question or answer.
Here are three scenarios where you should use the magic mute button:
- When asking about the prospect’s current vendor
Press mute after you ask about their current vendor to allow them time to elaborate. This way you’ll learn a lot more than you would if you kept on interrupting them and talking about how awesome your product or service is.
- After providing pricing information and a related follow-up question
For example “how does that fit in your budget?” Press mute to give the contact time to answer and provide feedback. This action lets you know how that answer landed with the prospect.
- After asking a prospect to elaborate when they’ve given you an objection
Ask them to clarify, for other questions, etc., then hit mute. Press mute after asking for clarification to let the contact fully explain the objection. Again, by getting a more comprehensive answer, you’ll be able to prepare a better response and make a case for your product or service.
When you force yourself to listen instead of trying to fill dead air while your prospect formulates a response, you can uncover more details that make your job of selling a lot easier.
Don’t Force Your Script
The purpose of a sales script isn’t merely to provide a set of words that every rep must say on a sales call. A script isn’t a magic incantation that secures a sale when said correctly.
No, a script is a powerful tool that helps a well-trained sales rep masterfully guide an interested prospect to purchase.
A great script should help your inside sales team listen by incorporating the right questions. Its role is to help reps consult and advise by providing answers to potential product or service questions, as well as objections your prospects may have.
Managers should spend time during sales training programs with new hires to role-play while using sales scripts. Additionally, sales managers are supposed to take time to perform quality assurance checks by listening in on sales rep calls – how well they are performing with the script.
- Do they give prospects a chance to respond to questions?
- Are they listening before they respond to prospects’ questions?
- Are they just reading?
Figure out if it’s time to do a refresher with reps on using scripts as a sales tool and not a sales crutch.
Remember to reinforce this idea with them: reading aloud is for bedtime stories. You don’t want to put your prospects to sleep. You want them to take action.
How to Avoid Sounding Scripted on Your Sales Calls
Scripts often miss the very ingredients that make the sauce saucy.
A communication experience must feel authentic.
For that, the deliverer must be comfortable with the script. We have seen award-winning movie dialogues fall flat because of the way the actors delivered them and vice versa.
Is the available text a good fit for you?
Read aloud and see how it sounds.
If it still falls flat, try our advice on how to follow a sales script without sounding scripted.
1. Practice your opening
Everyone knows the first few minutes of a sales call hinges on a great start. However, opening a sales call can be uncomfortable, as many “Um… so… how are you doing?” callers know too well.
A quick introduction must be immediately followed by the purpose when you start a conversation. It keeps you both on the same page.
For this, have a loose, flexible script around which you can weave your magic.
And please, use their names a few times.
Dale Carnegie once said: “A person’s name is to them the sweetest sound in any language.”
You’re talking to them, not at them. Keep this in mind before you launch into your pitch.
2. Manage your modulation, pace, and tone
Who knew a sales job could prepare you for an alternative career as a voice actor?
Now, while we can’t all sound like James Earl Jones or Maggie Smith, during a phone conversation, focus on making the most potent use of the power of our natural voice.
Your voice is your tool.
There is a world of difference in how you sound to yourself and how you sound to others. Perform the script and record it on your phone. Listen to it. The more you fine-tune your voice, the better your performance will be.
Buying is an emotional decision, and the rep’s script delivery has a lot to do with evoking positive/negative feelings in the prospect.
In cold calls, it is the sales reps’ voice and the level of performance that eventually “sell” the product.
The right tone and pace keep you from sounding phony and makes the conversation look raw and unscripted.
3. Mind when the call goes off-script
There will be times when your conversation with a prospect takes an unexpected turn away from the general path of the script.
You cannot always control the conversation.
So, don’t think you can brush aside objections or interruptions, which you feel might disrupt the script.
To the prospect, you are having a conversation.
Forcing the discussion back to your spiel will reveal you are scripted. It also tells the prospect that this call was not about them and their story, but about YOU and your story.
Sometimes it is better to improvise and go off the script to address the prospects’ concerns.
You can always return to the script later if it makes sense, or jump to qualifying questions and cover other key qualifying points from the script.
4. Embrace the silences and don’t rush to fill them
The first and most obvious sign of nervousness is speaking fast. Sales managers always warn their teams against babbling for this reason. Your mile-a-minute ramble exposes your nervousness and uncertainty, which takes away credibility.
Does a simple “Hmm…” set your heart racing?
You’re not on a timer.
When you ask a question, and the lead takes an extra few seconds to answer, it’s okay. Don’t panic and rush to close the conversation gaps. If they are taking time to respond, it means they are engaging with you and are taking you seriously.
Collect yourself and say to yourself, “It’s nothing to worry about. The prospect is most probably not following a script.”
5. Mind how you close the call
A small recap is in order. Nothing too elaborate, please.
Go ahead and say something like, “Okay, so we’re in agreement here.
I’ll send the case study and whitepaper we have on the subject in an hour. If you have any questions, please send an email. I will call you back next Tuesday to talk more about [the product or service].” Be clear that everybody is on the same page.
By the time the call is ending, the prospect’s name by now should roll off your tongue. You read this earlier, but it bears repeating: “a person’s name is to him or her the sweetest sound in any language.”
“Thank you, [Name]” is timeless.
Cheers! This is all there is to conversing without sounding scripted. You have a framework worth following.
Are you ready to walk this talk?
Calling strangers can be intimidating, and scripts can be a lifesaver to many salespeople. It is comforting to know that you won’t miss any important point or fumble when explaining something. However, you also need to remember not to sound robotic or as if you are reading. The above tips can help to keep your scripts 100% authentic. It only takes a bit of familiarity with your script and active listening to make a memorable chat. Let the scripts be visible only to you.