How To Use Sales Scripts
Updated: Apr 15, 2022
What is a sales script and why should you have them?
A sales script is just a mere guide for your salespeople, especially those who are new to the job or generally new at your company.
It is usually a pre-scripted form of a conversation or sales presentation with a directed purpose, e.g. to make the customer want to know more, to make them interested in a second appointment or to ultimately buy.
If you see a Talk Show or other host on TV, they also have prepared certain lines or sentences which they can ask participants.
Yet all of their lines give them enough flexibility to guide the conversation in their desired direction - this is pretty much what a sales script should do as well.
The script helps to prepare even rookie salespeople for their conversations with a customer. It should serve as a guide through the call, very similar to a sales presentation.
Scripts in sales are mainly used on the phone, but can also serve as a part of your sales presentation as well.
The script itself should be developed by the best-practices from the most successful sellers in your company.
Ideally this is a joint effort of your best people to really put every view and possible scenario into place that had yet been tested or done when present with a customer or on the phone.
A good script guides the conversation with the prospect in a psychologically predetermined way to make it as likely as possible to create a sale ultimately.
In other words, the sales script should be designed in a way that when you really just follow the words in it.
Even brand new salespeople should be able to close at least 30% of potential deals if the script is right.
It should be aimed at guiding the overall conversation in the desired direction.
Sounds good so far, right?
But how does it work and how can you use it if your business never has heard of scripts before?
How To Write a Sales Script
First and foremost: Keep it simple.
Conversations need to be held in a way related to the individual persons involved in it, as everyone has his or her own way of expressing things.
When people are selling for the first time in their life it is often an uncomfortable situation for them since nothing outside of a sales job would ever prepare you for such a task.
Many new hires run out of things to say during the sales presentation, say the wrong thing, or say nothing at all.
In any of these cases, the sale will probably be lost.
Which is not only bad for the business, but also de-motivating and frustrating for the salesperson, ultimately leading to higher fluctuation in your business.
A clever script will tackle all of these problems at once and provide a smooth process.
It can provide an easy entrance into the world of selling and has to deliver results for the person using it.
This point is critical, because if people have to use your script and they notice that eventually they make no sales with it - they will wonder why they should ever use it at all.
Very soon people will stop using it, or ridicule the effort of a script at all.
If you intend to use a script, it has to deliver real, measurable results from the start.
People have to understand the benefits of using your script compared to just talking about what is on their minds.
Otherwise there would be no use for your script at all.
Done right, a script provides a direction for your salesperson to go into a conversation.
If it gets used in the intended way, it also serves as a very important tool for measuring your overall business performance: it aligns your sales staff into a form of unison.
If you use something often enough, ratios will appear.
These ratios can then be tested and improved.
As long as everyone is using more or less the same conversations - you can measure and improve the effectiveness of it.
You can try to put some expressions in different words and test if this could bring you even better results than before.
Or you could also test new ways to ask for the close, to ask details about the customers situation etc. and see what kind of results you can get from them.
A script is no static set and forget technology - it has to be tested, improved, tested again, updated, and tested some more to generate the maximum output ultimately.
It also has to evolve over time and can be adjusted to new situations, new technologies or new products.
This makes a properly designed sales script one of the most important tools for any sales manager.
It should combine the best intellectual property regarding sales you and your team have and put it into a simple, actionable format.
If you are not making use of improving your scripts, you are leaving a lot of potential to improve your sales performance untapped.
Since selling entirely is actually nothing more than having lots of conversations with potential customers, the right script can bring you massive results for your entire organization.
It allows you to test, measure and improve every small detail of your sales performance Therefore it can really boost your revenue.
How much it can boost it will depend on how good your sales staff is working without a script and how much you will work to improve it over time.
In some cases there might be only a minor improvement when your sales team is excellent already, in others it can double and triple your revenue.
Some businesses might have naturally talented people on board who are gifted with great communication skills, or simply be great sales reps.
However, most people are not that talented and without any outside help to achieve great success.
Especially when you are just starting out, and your small business or start up is just taking off the ground, creating a well-designed sales script will vastly increase your chances of success over a long period of time.
Where can you use a Sales Script?
Even though we focus on selling here in this article, scripts can also be used for almost any form of conversation you have in your corporate environment.
Some companies use scripts for conversations with their employees, you could use it for negotiating with vendors and other scenarios.
The most common scripts for sales can be found for the phone, because on the phone it is the easiest to make use of a script since your customers can’t see if you use it.
When calling on potential customers, the salesperson can even have the entire script of the conversation printed out in front of him or her and just read it to guide the conversation.
For the customer it will be no different than when the person would really have the script as her own words, despite maybe a few minor changes in tonality.
But hardly any customer on the phone is trained enough to detect that.
Of course if people do read scripts over the phone, the reading has to be fluent.
No stuttering and no wrong reading here.
Even if the script gets read over the phone, it does pay to prepare and study it a few times at least before really calling the first live customer.
A fluent conversation is key to building trust and rapport, if the salesperson is stuck at every third word, it can easily backfire at you if people should find out that the conversation is scripted.
If you dislike the idea of your staff reading prepared scripts to customers for a conversation and are afraid that they might sound like robots, this problem will solve itself after a few days.
How you ask?
If the sales rep is calling 15 customers a day, and every single time using the same script again and again, then after a week you will see that the sales rep does not use the script anymore - it is in her head already.
Repetition is the mother of learning and the father of skill.
This is the beautiful thing about a sales script:
After about a month people will remember the most important details of the script and start adding their own versions or wordings into the script.
Thus they are creating a new script which suits their personality and style.
Some might even do it after a few days already.
Thereby in the long run, people will be well prepared and have the best-practice resources of your business inside their heads while simultaneously they are also developing their own talents on the job.
It gives them confidence and success in selling much sooner if they see things working out from day one.
Other situations of scripts can include direct customer appointments or even feedback meetings with your employees.
The main difference to a live situation using a script is that when sitting face to face with a customer, the salesperson is required to have the script already well studied and in his or her head.
Clearly you cannot bring a script into a live conversation and read it with the other person sitting next to you.
This implies that the salesperson must have studied or played throughout the script at least several times to know most of it from memory without reading it from a sheet.
While it is absolutely not necessary in a face to face meeting to know the entire script and follow it with every word, it is important to know at least the major milestones of the conversation the script is based on.
Sales managers should not become perfectionists about the exact wording or phrases used.
The good thing about sales scripts is that whenever you forget something, skip a part or put it differently, the customer will never know it.
A customer has never seen the script anyway, so even if the salesperson is making major mistakes it will all stay unnoticed.
All the script ought to do is help the salesperson find the necessary questions and arguments that should be mentioned in the conversation.
As long as it helps with that, the script does its job.
The Downsides of a Script
Some sales people dislike working with scripts because they might feel entrenched by being forced to use it.
All we want to do is help our people with it, yet not everyone will understand how it should and can work from day one.
It is meant as a tool not a burden.
Thus if people really hate the idea of using scripts, let them try it on their own first.
The people using the scripts bring results more predictable, more frequent and more systematic than those salespeople who do not use scripts of any kind.
After a few months, you should have clear ratios of success for comparing people with your script and people without your script.
If someone is certain that he or she will be better off without any scripts, let them try it for a few weeks or months.
But in case that after those few months the results of people working with scripts is significantly better (which is the case if the script is well made), you should really have a clear conversation with that person about how to proceed from here.
Not being ready to use scripts is one thing, but not delivering the demanded results when there is a working tool available should not be tolerated for too long.
Another downside might be that you cannot prepare for 100% of the situations your people will be facing during a conversation.
If they encounter a customer behaving really uniquely and asking weird questions, not even the best script could handle that.
And sure, there will be these “special” customers too sooner or later.
A sales script can prepare for around 90% of the situations that will arise in the daily job.
You can train for the most common objective, you can learn how to ask for the sale correctly, you can learn how to ask specific questions about the customers situation to discover potential needs and problems your products can fix.
This is what scripts actually are about, not the few exceptions of special customers.
A script does make a lot of sense for complex buying decisions in particular.
Products like heavy machinery, financial services or software solutions are a perfect field for such scripts.
But you would never create sales scripts to sell products sold through buying impulse such as clothing, food or plastic bottles.
Such products are simple in their form already and either you will need them and look for them or you don't.
The same goes for commoditized products or raw materials.
There will hardly be anyone buying 5.000 tons of steel grain when they do not need it, even if the salesperson approaching them was using a great script.
The more complex a buying decision and the more appointments or stages of the sale are needed, the better a script can do its work.
The less complicated a product is and the more it relies on being bought through mere impulse or direct demand, the less suitable any sales script will be.
What to put into a Sales Script
Here comes the most important part, the magical questions of what a successful sales script consists of.
To start with you first and foremost have to look at the buyers and their situations.
Figure out what your product can do for them if you have not done so already.
And in this case I mean really figure it out, including answers to the following questions:
Why should they buy from you and not from other companies instead?
What is it that makes your solution unique?
Why should customers listen to you and give your salespeople appointments?
What will the situation of a customer be after they have bought your product?
How is your solution better?
Why should they buy today and not some day later?
The more you really understand the buyer and their situation, the better you can provide your sales script.
Of course, if you offer multiple products or services which are totally different in their usage and outcomes for the customer, it will require you to develop an individual sales script for each one of these solutions you offer.
In the beginning you will always have to establish first contact with the potential prospect.
Depending on how good your leads are, this can now be easier or more difficult.
If you are good at lead generation and can produce “warm leads” on a constant basis, meaning that they know who you are, know what you offer and ideally also have already considered buying your product then this step should be rather easy.
If on the other hand you are mainly producing “cold leads”, meaning people who have never even heard of you or much less your business, then this will be a much tougher call to make.
Whatever solution will be the right one for you, your script has to include at least the following:
Engage the prospect in a conversation by asking the right questions
Making sure that all relevant questions are asked to qualify the prospect
It brings a clear structure of when to say what and keeps the conversation running smoothly
The script allows to make certain adjustments as you move along in the conversation to react to unforeseeable circumstances
What Results can you expect from a sales script?
When it comes to results in sales, people either tend to be too overly optimistic or too pessimistic.
Instead it would be wise to be realistic.
If you have average leads, let's say some of them are warm leads and some of them will be cold leads.
You call on 10 people, what would be a good result for you on average?
Clearly any script or other sales technique has to work multiple times a day.
It has to deliver these results on and on, meaning it always has to be seen in large numbers since there will be many, many conversations where it will be used.
Once I witnessed a company we developed such a script for and their salespeople came back frustrated telling me it didn't work.
I was a little perplexed, since usually we develop scripts in a way that they should work in most cases and they also do.
So I asked some more to understand where the problem could originate.
Upon further investigating, it became obvious that they called 10 people and got 3 sales from it.
In their mind, it should have been 10 sales.
As they never worked with a script before and heard all the benefits, they expected it to be a wonder-machine. These salespeople expected a script to work every time for every customer.
That's why it “didn't work” as they said.
Let me tell you that there is no surefire bullet, especially not in sales.
On average, a really bad script should at least bring you 1 sale out of 10 appointments.
A great script can bring you around 4 sales out of 10 appointments and even more.
The better your script becomes, the clearer your target audience is defined and the better your leads, the higher the quota will eventually become.
All these factors and many more will come into play, and they all need to be taken into account.
So these are the results you can expect if we are realistic.
Actually, if your team could hit a guaranteed sales of 5 out of every 10 appointments they make, all that would be left is have them make enough calls and watch the sales come in.
Doesn't that sound desirable?