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  • Writer's pictureNick Klingensmith

Stick To The Script, Kid!

Sales Scripts & Why You’re Wrong For Not Using Them

It was the end of my second year in telecom sales and I’d hit a slump. A few deals fell out, a few prospects refused to engage and suddenly doors were getting shut in my face. My confidence was rocked. Though I’d never admit it to my boss, I knew when my sales were lacking because my activity was lacking, but this was different. My skills were lacking!

I managed to get an appointment with a large paper company in Holyoke, Massachusetts. My VP of Sales was in town and was going to attend the meeting with me. It was a large opportunity and I was grateful to have him lead the call. He had a reputation for being a Bulldog. A real Blake or Gekko. Rumor was he’d earned his stripes in sales.

I’d become among the many salespeople that felt certain parts of the sales presentation we were trained to give were just too cheesy and they’d never work. We thought that whoever wrote the script had never really done the job. Now, I’d get to see how it was really done.

He ran the meeting and he did not disappoint. It was the best sales presentation I’d ever seen.

It was also word for word the script we had been trained.

It became clear to me: I was slumping because I had deviated from the script.

In my efforts to not sound robotic, I hardly sounded competent. I tried to make small talk with receptionists in the hopes they would be nice to me and not make me feel stupid. Instead, they just stared at me with confused looks while I stood there feeling stupid.

He’d just delivered the smoothest presentation I’d ever seen, and he did it from a script.

Because he was familiar with the script, he got to focus on the prospect. He got to engage with them personally, listen to their responses and look for non-verbal clues. Because he stuck to the script, he maintained control of the meeting and the conversation. Because he stuck to the script, he didn’t miss any relevant points and consistently earned agreement from the customer.

It was a lesson I’d carry with me. Here are a few other familiar excuses and the lessons I’ve learned since.

I want to be respectful to the Gatekeeper – then respect their time. They’ve got two people standing at their desk and a call holding, they don’t have time for your small talk.

I don’t want to sound like a robot – then practice! A script should allow you to smoothly deliver your information in a way that sounds and feels natural.

I don’t want to sound canned – get over it. It’s a cold call. How many different ways can you really say, “Hi, my name is…”

I don’t want to sound insincere – then quit. If you can’t mean what you say, you’re working for the wrong company.

I don’t want to sound phony – then practice! In the absence of a well-practiced script, most sales reps fall back on small talk, vague and often incomprehensible origin stories of why they’re calling, and an abusive use of um, um, um, um, um….

I just want to be myself – good! Nothing about a script says you can’t be yourself. In fact, a well-written script still relies upon the delivery for success.

I don’t want them to know I’m a salesperson – they know you’re a salesperson. You’re obviously not a customer and they can do the math. Be confident in who you are and what you do.

Particularly when prospecting, sales scripts help you to maintain consistency in your message. They allow for results to be measured and improved upon. The reduce dead air and avoid mindless ramble. They minimize doubt words and maximize effective messaging.

Many salespeople fear they won’t be able to connect with their prospects if they’re reading from a script, but the effective use of a script allows you to have a customer focus, taking your attention off of what to say next. #gostride

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