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Few things will turn off a prospect faster than hearing a salesperson recite stiltedly from a phone script. But that doesn’t mean that using a script equates to poor cold calling. A badly written script is a disaster, all right, but a good script can boost your cold call success.
In a good, really entertaining movie, the actors seemed to speak and react spontaneously. Everything they said and did sprang naturally from whatever was happening around them. And yet we all know that those actors were using a script. The difference is that their scripts were written using words and phrases that were so natural that they sounded spontaneous, and the actors delivered those carefully chosen words laden with the appropriate emotions.
Your own acting skills may not be on a par with a professional actor’s, but you do have one benefit that they lack. Namely, you get to write your own scripts using words and phrases that come naturally to you. There’s no need to act if you have a well-written phone script, because the words on the page are the same words you’d be likely to say on your own. Where the script comes in handy is by writing those words down ahead of time, you won’t have to worry about losing your train of thought or having your mind go blank.
Most phone scripts fail because they are written like marketing materials. Those smooth, polished, convincing phrases work in a brochure or even an email, but spoken out loud they will sound stiff and artificial — or worse, slick and ‘sales-y.’ Phone scripts should sound just like you do when you have a casual conversation with someone. As you write the script, stick to words you use every day in normal circumstances, including pauses, sentence fragments and sometimes even the occasional ‘uh.’ If you have trouble writing a script in this style, tape yourself while you ad-lib a cold call, and then play back the tape and write down what you said exactly as you said it. Then polish it a bit as needed, but without making the language more formal.
If you’re new to sales and an experienced salesperson is kind enough to share her phone script with you, think long and hard before making substantial changes. A script that’s been highly successful for her is no doubt full of useful sales techniques and persuasive language. You’re better off practicing with that script until it sounds natural instead of trying to make up your own wording. Once you’ve had a little more experience with cold calling and know what works and what doesn’t, you can give yourself a little more leeway to change that script to suit your own preferences.
A good phone script should cover every part of the call, from ‘Hello’ to ‘Goodbye.’ As you cold call, prospects will throw various objections at you, some of which will be a complete surprise. Jot those objections down and then after the call ends, write up a good response for those new objections and include them at the bottom of the script.
Even the best phone script will get stale over time. You’ll come up with new and more effective ways to grab the prospect’s interest and close the appointment. And as your company launches new products and changes existing ones, you’ll need to change around your benefits phrases to keep up with the revised product features. The best way to decide which changes to keep and which to discard is to test them out under live fire. When you have a significant change you’re thinking about for your phone script, use the new wording on 25 cold calls… then switch to the old script and make 25 more calls. If the new version gets you more appointments than the old version does, then your change is probably an improvement.
About the author
My first sales position was a summer job selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I continued through a variety of sales jobs ranging from retail sales for a storage company to selling bank products for a Fortune 500 financial institution.
As a small business owner, I now focuses on selling for my own company, Tailored Content, a website content provider. I write on a wide range of topics but my primary focus is sales and how to sell effectively.