Sales are the lifeblood of any business.
Your operations can be messy, your staff demotivated, your product outdated - but as long as you have enough sales it will all be fine in your business.
As your company will start to grow, you will find that the more sales people you have the harder it will be to align them all under the same command.
Some may perform better and others worse. And some will do a better job while others not that much.
Like we posted in another article, to keep your business growing and keep control over time you will need certain systems in place for your business.
To effectively govern, measure, test and adapt your sales to customer specific situations and to make sure that all your people are aligned, a clever system has emerged in the world of sales.
And that system is a sales script.
What are sales scripts 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.
The script itself should be developed by the best-practices from the most successful sellers in your company, ideally as a joint effort of your best people to really put every view and possible scenario into place that has yet been tested or done.
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, an absolutely new salesperson should be able to close at least 30% of potential deals.
If the script cannot handle at least 30% of the daily scenarios, it is not good enough yet.
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?
As always, keep it simple first and foremost.
In particular conversations are prone 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.
And so many new hires run out of things to say in a 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, leading ultimately to higher fluctuation in your business.
And that is exactly what your script will improve.
The script will serve as a base in conversations with the customer, in particular the first conversations such as making cold calls.
The sales script can provide an easy entrance into the world of selling and has to deliver first 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 learn it at all. #
A script has to deliver results.
If it does not bring results, there is no need in using the script at all.
And very soon people will stop using it, or ridicule the effort of a script at all, making it almost impossible to improve it along the way as you should be doing it.
If you intend to use a script, it has to deliver as desired 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 a script at all.
Done right, a script does not only provide a direction for the new hire to go in a conversation. It does also serve as a very important tool for measuring your overall business performance: it aligns your sales staff into a form of unison.
If everyone is using more or less the same conversations, you can measure and improve the effectiveness of it.
For example 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.
The goal is to look for a “weak spot” in the customer’s mind to get them interested in your product with the right hook.
This makes a proper 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 it, 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 us to test, measure and improve every small detail of 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.
In some cases there might be only a minor improvement, in others it can double and even triple your revenue!
Some might have naturally talented people on board who are gifted with great communication skills, or simple great sales reps.
But usually most salespeople are not that talented and without any outside help and often have to rely on collecting orders from customers who would want to buy the product anyway.
Especially when you are just starting out in sales, 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.
It will give your staff a clear guide to follow. You will be able to track and measure performance. And you can improve it step by step.
Where can you use a Sales Script?
As we said, sales scripts can be used for any form of conversation.
And that makes it suitable to basically any possible sales situation because what we do in sales is plain communication.
The most common scripts can be found for the phone, because on the phone it is the easiest way to make use of a script.
Yet 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.
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.
It doesn't really matter if even the entire conversation will be read on the page the first few times when a prospect is called.
Since the other person on the phone can't see that the salesperson is reading a script, nobody will know except the salesperson herself.
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 anyone is trained enough to detect that when being called by a salesperson.
Of course if people do read scripts over the phone, the reading has to be fluent.
No stuttering and no wrong reading.
So 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 build 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.
And yes of course, if you can train your people enough to not read it that would be a lot better.
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, don’t worry because 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 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 go-to resources of your business inside their heads while simultaneously they are also developing their own talents with it.
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 range from feedback talk 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.
Compared to on the phone or via a screen, reading the script (at least partially) is okay.
This clearly implies that the salesperson must have studied or played throughout the script at least several times to know most of it 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 at this point.
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 get asked in the conversation.
As long as it helps with that, the sales script does its job.
The Downsides of a Sales 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 as a burden.
Thus if people really hate the idea of using scripts, let them try it on their own.
Usually, 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.
However, if someone is certain that he or she will be better off without the sales script, let them try it for a few weeks or even months if you trust the person enough.
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 really is well made), you should really have a clearing conversation with that person about how to proceed from here.
Not being ready to use it is one thing, but not delivering the demanded results when there is a working tool available should not be tolerated for too long.
On the other side, if in the rare case that the employee might actually perform better without the sales script - this employee has something to teach you!
Another downside might be that you cannot prepare for 100% of the situations your people will be facing.
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.
But you 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 sales scripts actually are about, not the few exceptions where they miss their objective.
A script does make particularly a lot of sense for complex buying decisions.
Products like heavy machinery, financial services or software solutions are a perfect field for such scripts.
But you would never create it to sell products like 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.
There will hardly anyone be buying 5.000 tons of steel grain when they do not need it, even if the salesperson approaching them was using a great and convincing 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 and the more it relies on being bought through mere impulse, the less suitable any sales script will be.