Engaging with a customer should be a conversation, not a chore. So why do people sometimes get frustrated when a sales rep solicits their business via the phone? One reason cited in surveys is that people sometimes feel like they are being talked at, not talked to: 69% of people surveyed say their experience improves if it sounds like the rep is not talking from a script.
Ah, yes-- the script. Scripts are sometimes disparaged by customers and professionals alike, seen as making the sales rep too robotic, too on message, too intent on selling and not attentive to what the customer is actually saying. Tone can be everything in these kinds of conversations, and for too many people on the other end of the line, a sales script can feel like a forced dialogue, rather than a productive one.
But this dislike of a bad script (or a badly read one) does not mean scripts cannot be useful. Particularly for new reps, or for companies looking to create a more consistent and collaborative sales environment, scripts can be a helpful way to organize your message and create a more confident and productive staff. It’s not about tossing out the script altogether, but making sure that the script you’re using is the right one-- and that your reps know how to use it.
Here are 3 reasons we believe that scripts can be an important sales tool for your company.
- Scripts create predictability and consistency for sales presentations.
Starting the conversation can sometimes be the hardest part of a sales call. A good script offers reps a strong starting point, offering key talking points about the product or service and tailoring the material for different kinds of calls and clients (cold-calling, follow-up, closing scripts, market research, the “difficult” customer, etc.). Having this template doesn’t mean that the rep cannot deviate from the written text (see point #3 below), but it provides a consistent tool in the face of the unknown variables (time of day, customer mood, and so on) that can sometimes derail the conversation. General points might include:
- A strong opening that engages the customer, informs them of who the rep/company calling is, and feels tailored to the specifics of the individual they’re addressing.
- Building rapport and trust by soliciting a customer’s questions, and showing you know about their business via pre-researched, tailored responses.
- Positioning the business’s product or service within the field and talking about what they offer that others don’t. A cool feature or benefit is helpful here.
- Getting a commit to continue at a future, scheduled call or meeting date.
A consistent script gives reps and managers alike good piece of mind-- even with those variables factored in, everyone in the company knows there’s a unified general message and important points to hit. This means the level of service they can provide the client has a much better chance of being both high and consistent.
- Scripts reduce errors and increase rep and customer confidence.
A bad script can alienate a customer, and so can poor rep delivery. But we believe a strong script can increase customer satisfaction in a sales rep and give the representative a solid base of confidence from which to work. Ask yourself:
- Are you giving your reps up-to-date scripts, full of the most current information available?
- Are you providing them with some general conversational tips in case the customer is rude or resistant?
- Is this script tailored to the right kind of rep/the right kind of call?
Surveys suggest that mirroring a customer’s questions can increase confidence by 30-40%, while simply saying “please” and “thank you” can boost it by 29%. These may seem like small details, but by providing your rep with a strong, conversational script as a starting point, you can make the experience as smooth and confidence building for both reps and customer as possible.
- Scripts allow improvisation and collaborations with the customer.
A good call should be the start of a relationship, not a set of pre-planned bullet points. Far from stifling a sales rep, a good script provides the necessary structure for improvisation-- if he or she has a text to refer back to, they can more easily ask questions, listen to tangential points, and find a way to guide it back to the sales points while seeming natural and relaxed. 16-33% of those surveyed said it greatly improves their customer experience if the caller sounds like he or she isn’t simply reading from a screen, but is engaged and active in a back-and-forth dialogue. Have your sales reps record their calls (or practice beforehand with recorded trials), so they can hear how they sound. You and your reps might review their performances and ask:
- Are they asking questions?
- Are they taking pauses to let the customer speak?
- Are they seguing from point to point in a conversational manner?
The more the rep feels like the script is speaking in his or her voice, the more that confidence and personality will translate to strong interactions with the customers.
If your business has provided the representative with a strong script, it can be the start of a productive relationship with the client, leading to greater satisfaction for them, and for your bottom line.