“It’s not about having the right opportunities. It’s about handling the opportunities right.”
This quote from a prominent business author and keynote speaker pretty much sums up how to handle sales. Even if a business has all the opportunities to make lucrative sales in the world, it won’t matter if it blunders on every one of them. With the lingering economic effects of the ongoing pandemic, never has proper sales management been more crucial than now.
With that out of the way, perhaps it’s about time business owners re-evaluate their current sales script. For one, since COVID hit, doing business has changed. Consumer habits, supply chains, business operations—none of these aspects can ever go back to what they used to be before the pandemic. Businesses unable to cope with this change ended up closing their doors.
For another, for all their expertise, sales reps are prone to getting complacent after successful sales. Because whatever they’re doing seems to work, they either won’t be in a rush to change their ways or tackle more than they can chew. When such tactics no longer produce the same effect, they’ll be at a loss as to what to do.
For the record, there’s nothing wrong with keeping a sales script if it still yields wanted results. However, if the following signs manifest, it’s time to update it to suit the new normal:
1. Misconceptions are rife
False beliefs and half-truths can induce a false sense of confidence, and businesses are just as vulnerable to it. Sales reps who cling to such misconceptions will be in a dangerous position when they come back to bite them. Contrary to popular belief, they occur more often than one might think.
Here are some common misconceptions about sales:
- There’s a one-size-fits-all sales pitch
- Excellent sales reps can sell anything
- Lowering prices entices more customers
- A sale’s success depends on the first three minutes
- Sales reps care more about commissions than customers
- Quality products and services practically sell themselves
Breaking them down one by one warrants its own article, but the gist is that these fallacies can appear in a business’s sales script. Specific lines like “I know you are busy” or “Can I have 15 minutes of your time” will give the impression that the rep’s just reading from a prepared sales script. Some consumers might feel that the sales attempt isn’t genuine.
Eliminating this dangerous mindset requires updating everyone’s knowledge of what constitutes good sales. This, in turn, reflects in better questions to ask consumers, information supported by data, and improved adlib, all of which are present in good sales call script examples. Sales reps will also be less likely to read them verbatim, which is the ideal way to do so.
2. Reliance on cold calling
Cold calling involves sales reps contacting people who have yet to express interest in a business and its products and services, typically by phone. Although slowly falling out of favor, plenty of companies still rely on it for several reasons: it helps find new customers and establish a healthy connection, and even hones fledgling sales reps in their craft.
That said, the reasons for cold calling’s recent decline are twofold: statistical and governmental.
- First, statistics show that only 2% of all cold calls result in a meeting—and they cost 60% more to manage than other marketing methods. Over the years, consumers have become more aware of how blatant advertising looks and sounds. They don’t appreciate wasting their time. (3)
- Second, several countries have enacted laws that protect consumer rights, including the choice of receiving such calls. In the U.K., the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) enables individuals and businesses to opt out of sales calls (similar to the National Do Not Call Registry in the U.S.). Companies can face legal action if they attempt to cold-call a TPS-registered number.
Nevertheless, it’s important to note that cold calling itself isn’t illegal. In fact, when done responsibly, it can help businesses yield positive results. When drafting a sales script that relies on cold calling, don’t forget to update it with the following elements:
- Research data on the prospective industry or market
- More personalized responses for various situations
- Information provided by relationship-building tools
- Inbound marketing principles
More importantly, it pays to have more than one type of sales script. Given that some consumers don’t like being cold-called, businesses should develop variations for other marketing media. A multipronged approach can enable the brand to appear in more channels.
3. Too much dialogue
Arthur Miller’s 1949 stage play, Death of a Salesman, is a classic, if not spoiling the ending. The main character, a 63-year-old salesman, tends to be a chatterbox but can’t figure out why. He doesn’t get as much respect as another character, who seems to talk far less. Regardless, the play essentially portrays a problem among sales reps: they talk too much.
One study shows that seven out of ten consumers see sellers that help them discover their issues and offer a practical solution as having the most influence in their purchases. When it comes to the actual numbers, however, only three in ten sellers fit the description. This means that a seller’s words go nowhere 70% of the time.
The reasons for such a habit vary from the sales rep’s personality to the quality of the sales script given. The latter should allow enough time for prospects to ask questions or share their concerns. A sales script that has a sales rep talking for more than half of the time isn’t ideal. One way to reduce unnecessary chatter is to include some questions to ask a prospect, such as:
- What I heard from you is that [reiterate the prospect’s words], correct?
- Is this relevant to your company’s goals this quarter/month/year?
- Is there anything that I might have missed?
- What aspect takes priority at the moment?
In the end, the most critical goal a sales script should achieve is the opportunity to build a lasting relationship with the consumer. It’s the best way a business can prove that it’s worth every penny of the consumer’s money.
4. Lacking valuable data
One thing that’s as dangerous as talking too much is talking too little, even to the point of having nothing important to say. Expect any sales attempt to fail if the sales rep can’t back up anything they claim or say with sufficient evidence.
People put a lot of faith in statistics and other hard facts; that’s why any information that carries these will appear credible. There are plenty of things the average consumer doesn’t understand, especially in certain industries like healthcare. Science-backed data is the best way to explain a phenomenon in layman’s terms, and statistics is the science of presenting that data.
A sales script should include any relevant data and the means to present it. If a prospect asks about a cheaper option, the sales rep must support its answer with hard facts. As trivial as it seems, the potential customer may have been struggling with this question for days. Getting customers to pick the brand will depend on the answer the sales rep gives.
Of course, anything worth doing is worth overdoing. Packing a script with enough figures to make it a full-blown academic paper may be tempting but doing so will only veer customers away from the more essential points. Only include facts that’ll support a brand’s claims.
5. Lack of storytelling
Related to the point above, as credible as an informative sales script can be, it’s only half of a successful formula. As mentioned earlier, too much information, especially when it’s barely relevant, can quickly bore a prospect to the point of losing interest.
In a twist of irony, there are statistics to back it up: among prospects, 63% remember stories vividly, but only 5% remember a statistical point. It isn’t hard to see why: storytelling connects to people on an emotional level better than statistics. Readers of a good novel can’t help but put themselves in the shoes of a struggling main character for the immersion. (5)
Whether in the retail or tech industry, whether to customers or other businesses, always keep in mind not to sell a product or service but the experience of using it. A good sales script should reflect this, focusing on the outcome of using a product or service more than its features. Experts refer to this as experience selling.
If a sales script appears rather bland after a run-through, it must be because it lacks a compelling story. A business can do this in three ways: asking what-if questions, highlighting its mission and vision, and citing testimonies from satisfied customers. Whichever the script chooses to include, the following storytelling tips apply.
- Remember the golden rule of storytelling: “Show, don’t tell.”
- Don’t hesitate to be emotional (still support it with facts).
- Make sure the prospect is following the story closely.
- Tell it in a way that everyone can understand clearly.
Whether caused by a global health crisis or changing consumer habits, change in business is inevitable. No matter how long it’s been in use, a sales script could use a major update if it’s showing these signs and more.