Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The 8 steps of a great sales script

 by Tony Vidler.

 One of the most under-rated tools for success in any sales-orientated job is "scripting"...actually writing down the words you are going to use - in advance - and thinking about how those words work together.

Unbelievably though most sales people seem to prefer to pick up a phone, or make a call on a prospective client, and basically just work it out on the fly. 

They say they want to sound "natural", or don't want to sound "canned"....and after a little role play I can often assure them that their natural and un-canned approach to a prospect certainly doesn't sound like a rehearsed spiel at all. 

It usually sounds more like a spluttering teenager hesitantly asking a shotgun-armed father if he can take his daughter out....

The same salespeople then ask for help with improving their conversion rates....improving the proportion of the people they talk to initially wanting to talk further with them.  But they want to be natural while doing it.

So why bother scripting out what you are hoping will sound natural and easy?  Well, it is so you can be natural and easy....while being effective.

In any presentation, whether it be over the phone to a stranger or in an auditorium of attentive acolytes, you will be far more relaxed and easy with your audience if you know precisely what you are going to say and do.  Practice really does make perfect in this regard...rehearsing and practicing to get the right words in the right order and with the right inflection and impact makes a massive difference to your conversion rate.  It follows of course that a big difference in that conversion rate means far more effective advertising and marketing spend, and a far healthier bottom line for your business.  And you annoy less people.

What goes into a good sales scripts?

1.  The clients name.
The one thing guaranteed to get someone's attention is their own name, and it is a basic courtesy.  Try and use it 2-3 times early in the script as it gets their full attention on what you are saying.  You are also being courteous and polite in doing so, which creates a positive impression.

2.  Pauses.
Especially when engaging with a prospective client on the phone and they have no non-verbal clues to help them, you have to give reasonably frequent pauses.  It is difficult for most people to follow a conversation with someone they do not know well when they can only hear them, so you have to slow down and give them time to process what you are saying.

3.  Tone.
The tone can in itself make or break any approach - we all know that.  Think beyond the obvious though - it isn't just about being friendly and professional, but where you put inflection on particular words, and how fluidly you move through what you want to say can also make a huge difference to how positively it is received.  And a light mildly humorous tone can be magic - if you (or your line of work) can carry that off.

4.  Brevity
Life's short. Keep it brief.  Make it as short as possible - but no shorter.  One of the real advantages of scripting and role-playing is that you can actively refine what you want to say to get that optimal balance of brief, but detailed enough, to get the point across.

5.  WIIFM.
Every prospective client has Radio-WIIFM playing in their own head the whole time you are talking to them.  What Is In It For Me?  That's the question in their minds that MUST be answered sufficiently for them to agree to go further with you.  It is at the core of your script.

6.  Minimal choices.  
Too many choices confuse people, and their instinct is to either find a middle ground or refuse to choose anything.  The simple act of providing many choices creates a barrier for many consumers - it all gets too hard.  If for instance you are asking for an appointment, then just give them a choice of 2 times.  If you don't provide any choices, and leave an open question for them to solve, it just becomes too hard as they have to think of too many variables.

7.  Ask.
Seems obvious, but you actually have to ask for what you want at some point.  Clearly it is not appropriate asking for what you want before you've gone through the previous steps, however you do actually have to ask for the order, or the next step, or the appointment, or whatever.  This doesn't have to be complicated - in fact you are more likely to be trusted if it isn't some cunning "closing technique" - just simple and open, asking for permission to go to the next step, is very effective.

8.  Back-up.
No matter how good and polished your script and you are, there will be people you are talking to where they haven't quite got it and are hesitating.  Usually when they are hesitating or non-committal - but haven't hung up on you or thrown you out - they are saying inside their own minds "you haven't convinced me yet".

You have to be prepared with a back-up...something which cuts straight to the heart of the WIIFM again and helps them understand what the benefit is to them of doing what you ask.  It is not "objection handling" of the old fashioned variety where you supposedly will cunningly maneuver the prospective client into saying "yes" to something they will later regret.  This is your best shot...your key proposition put into words that show them how they will gain from doing what you propose.

There will still be people who don't go with your recommendation - and for lots of good reasons that they don't want to share with you.  But if you do construct a great sales script, and rehearse and polish it, at least you won't lose good people just because they couldn't understand you or thought you a bumbling fool.

A great sales script is founded on elemental psychology and an acute understanding of what is likely to be happening in the other persons mind.  The right words, put together in the right order, and then said the right way, and all done with conviction and certainty make for success.

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