The truth about sales scripts

If you’re in the business of cold calling at volume, then the question of whether or not to use scripts has come up.  Scripts are one of those contentious topics for sales leaders that tends to polarize the room.

To Script or Not to Script?

Why are people so divided? Let’s look at the case for each side, and see which one makes more sense.

The case for scripts

The case for scripts almost always starts with a top performing sales person and the desire to scale that sales technique to the floor.  What better way to create top performers than to make everyone else say the EXACT same thing?

Besides the urge to have everyone perform like your top performer, many organizations also like scripts because it keeps the sales team uniform.  It helps everyone sound “on brand”, and makes customers feel like they’re dealing with one entity because they get similar answers from many of the employees.  This unity also makes it easier for new employees to ramp, because they don’t have to choose between 100 different ways to do the same thing.

The case against scripts

Scripted sales reps sound like robots!  Write up a script, and have your team read it.  How do these people sound compared to your top performers?  Like robots…

The case against scripts is that it makes sense in theory, but in reality it never sounds all that great.  Top performing reps are not reading a script, they’re dynamic and they’re having individual conversations that are tailored to every customer.  They’ve got a consultative style that helps uncover pain points with each potential customer the speak to.  Top performers are so comfortable with the material that a linear script would never do it justice.

The real case for a script

The arguments above really just point out the extremes.  Scripts, when done poorly, make people sound like robots.  But the reality is that most new people will sound much worse if they don’t have something to guide what they say to your potential customers.

The reality is that a script, when used correctly, is simply a training aide to help get new sales people up and running quickly.  Think of a script as training wheels.  They help the sales person remember the finer points of communicating your product or company to a potential client.  It helps remind the sales person of the best practices that top performers use.

The key to handling sales objections over the phone is keeping these scripts in the back of your mind, but not actually using them verbatim. – Alex Nunez

 

When use effectively, the sales person has internalized the script, and the why behind each line in the script.  Once they get this, they can start evolving past just saying the words verbatim without understanding them.  Then, .ver time, that script needs to evolve.  The end goal is unquestionably a sales person that needs no script.  The faster they get to the point, the more successful your script was.

Keys for successful scripting

  1. It needs to be realistic, it has to reflect words that your high performing sales people currently use.
  2. Skill level appropriate – it can not be an advanced script for new employees, you should have different scripts for different skill levels.
  3. The goal needs to be sounding natural – actors who read a script but don’t sound natural are bad actors.  Sales people that can’t make the words in a script sound natural simply need more practice and need to internalize it.
  4. Scripts are not permanent  – the end goal for a script program is to make scripts obsolete.  The script has served its purpose once a sales person no longer needs it.

If that’s not a compelling enough case, then the last ditch effort I would make to convince you is to look at the effectiveness of tools like toutapp / yesware / signals.  They are all tracking conversion rates and response rates from emails.  Modern sales teams now have the ability to scientifically test whether or not their words are effective.  Testing requires you to hold that message constant, which would require the use of a script.  The new modern sales world is one in which teams could use salesloft or outreach.io like tools to test which scripting converts best in which situations!

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