Breaking News: Sales Scripts Still Work
I felt like a spy, going on interviews for jobs that might have been fitting long before I had become an acknowledged and widely published expert at selling.
I had to mask my sophistication, while swallowing my pride.
To even qualify for an interview, I dumbed-down my resume, leaving off earned graduate degrees. I positioned myself as what I had become, in part, as a consultant: a top seller and sales trainer.
Harnessing my ego, I hired onto a job that had a makeshift training program. Part of it consisted of watching a videoed suit tell me about the math of success in selling.
Make a lot of calls, enumerate your results, and fix what is broken, but nothing more. Advice and even specific examples I had given in some of my best-selling books that he apparently private-labeled, and sold as original.
But that was okay, I told myself. I was going to be a dutiful seller only; not a sage, and certainly not a critic. I was going to learn about the systems and the techniques that were currently in place, and see what had changed since I had shifted my focus to negotiation and customer service platforms.
I was given two scripts, which were hard to read, let alone recite. Noticing the best reps were using a different spiel, I asked them for THEIR scripts, which conveniently, they had reduced to writing and generously shared with me.
(Had they known I was a certified scripting genius, their missives might have remained in drawers while I stumbled over my self-importance.)
My computer hadn’t been set-up, so I was desk-driving, listening to others pitch. Fidgeting and chomping at the bit, I was asked if I wanted to get started without a computer.
Call reluctance increases with inactivity, so I jumped at the chance. and wouldn’t you know it, after a fifteen minute talk, I sold the first person with whom I spoke.
In grad school, the same thing happened on a shorter call, when I was selling office supplies.
He’s a MEISTER the managers proclaimed back then, noting that I seemed to perform the script flawlessly, and of course with the right result.
Here, the hiring manager simply said, I knew you could do it
Which brings me to my point: Scripts work, whether you believe in them, or not.
I’ve always known and preached this truth, but now I was reaffirming it in the present day, in an era of Twitter, Facebook, multi-tasking, resistant and reluctant buyers, and notoriously short attention spans.
I was reasserting the value of using word-for-word, verbatim scripts, on actual calls as a seller, not as an expert that was pitching people on using one of the scripts I had written for-hire.
At this new place of business, I didn’t write the words I uttered, and it’s a good thing. I didn’t have enough product knowledge to fashion a coherent presentation.
After my initial order, for the next two days, I continued to make sales. But on the fourth and fifth days, I blanked. nobody bought, though I thought my presentations were improving.
I realized I had fallen a typical and predictable trap.
I had meandered away from the call path, reinventing it, trying to make it shorter, more logical, and in my opinion, more coherent. I went from being a novice to a know-it-all to a slumping salesperson, in slightly more than a week.
On the sixth day, I reverted to the text that I had used on my very first call. And I started selling, again.
On one level, it irks me to think that their script was superior to my attempted refinements of it. After all, I’ve had a career, and a successful one, improving presentations, much like this one.
Plus, their script seemed way too long, and too gimmicky, with excessive tie-downs, such as Sounds good, doesn’t it? appearing in far too many places.
But these thoughts, I realized after my two-day slump, violated a foundation of successful selling, known as the KISS Method.
KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID
I was competing against the script, which is folly, a secondary-gain, a potential win for my ego, only. Cooperating with it, reciting it jot-for-jot, produced a primary gain, sales and commissions.
In the past, after new hires would complain to me, their sales manager, that they were suddenly slumping, I’d ask a simple question, are you on the script or off it?
Oh, I’m using it they’d claim, in all sincerity. But when I monitored their conversations, I heard how far into the doldrums they had drifted.
One of my clients, a former Marine, said: Selling is so easy, it’s hard
You won’t become a great cook by following the recipes others have concocted, but you will become competent.
In selling, that will probably catapult you to the top 25% of all producers.
One of the dumbest things you can do is to outsmart a successful script. This fact is as true today, as it has ever been.
From a management perspective, the secret isn’t to seek out the perfect script, it is to get reps to use the script they have been given.
There is a script for accomplishing this vital task, and I’ll be delighted to share it with you. But first, you’ll need to hire me as your expert