Ditch the Script!

Ditch the Script

Working in the sales industry, there’s one request that comes through more loudly and more clearly than anything else: scripts. “Can I get a script for cold calling?” “I really liked that presentation. Can I get your script?” “What script did you use to make that sale?”

And I get it. It’s not easy initiating a conversation and making a sale. In fact, I would venture to say that it’s one of, if not the most, difficult things to do in business—making a sale. Understanding this, we’re always looking for ways to make the sales process as easy as possible—both for the seller and the customer. And in doing so, I’ve challenged myself and my colleagues to do something that goes against everything we’ve been taught about sales and how to sell. It’s the same challenge that I’m going to pose to you, and that is: DITCH THE SCRIPT!

In place of fine tuning a script, memorizing it, and practicing how you say it, I want to challenge you to shift your energy and time investment on becoming a student of the products you sell. Think about it, when you initiate and conduct a conversation using a script, what are you thinking about? Are you thinking about your prospect, their problems, their needs, and how you can help them? Or are you thinking about the next line? Or are you starting to panic because the prospect isn’t responding in accordance to how your script was written and memorized? Unfortunately, all too often, working off a script means we’re focused on the words coming out of our mouths and not the words coming into our ears. And the words coming into our ears are far more important than the ones coming out of our mouths!

When you use a script, a few things commonly happen:

  1. You stop being yourself; you sound scripted; and you lose the authenticity in your voice and overall demeanor.
  2. And what’s worse than that, you head into a conversation assuming the prospect’s needs and what solutions they’re most interested in.

Avoid making those mistakes! Number one, you won’t be successful in sales if you’re pretending to be someone you’re not. When you use someone else’s script, you’re using their words, which they put together to match their personality, their thought process, and their style of engagement. The words aren’t what makes it powerful; it’s all of those things put together. People can tell when you’re using someone else’s words, someone else’s thoughts. And that lack of authenticity is deadly. Instead, be yourself. Always use your words, your ideas, and your perspective. Be genuine and honest. It will be recognized and appreciated.

Second, you can’t assume you already know what the prospect wants and needs. You can’t tell a prospect what they need. You have to listen to them tell you what they need, and then it’s up to you to demonstrate how you can help them solve those problems. That means that what you really need is a conversation, not a script. Let your prospects share their side of the story, and then you can come forward and make a direct, clear presentation about what you offer them. If your prospect keeps coming back to a single problem, over and over again, then you don’t need to sell them on every single feature you’re selling; you just have to sell them on one. Cut through the clutter and make it simple.

And just as importantly, when you’re listening and really getting to know who the other person is, you can better determine exactly what you need to say, and how much you need to say about it. You can right-size your presentation, not adding more and more things and talking past the sale. Stay focused at all times on the other person and what they’re interested in and what they need. What’s in it for them?

And to have a meaningful conversation and help your prospect connect the dots from their pain points to your products’ solutions, is totally dependent on your knowledge of the products have to offer.

So what can you do right now, to confidently ditch the script? Here’s the biggest thing: Be a student of your products. You have to know what you’re selling inside and out, backwards and forwards. You have to know what it does, what it doesn’t do, the problems it solve, and the problems it doesn’t solve. That way, whenever you hear a business owner start talking about a problem, you’ll instantly recognize, “Alright, let’s talk to them about how my product provides a solution to their problem.” And when you’re a student of your products, you’ll almost always be prepared to make those connections no matter what problems they have.

Be prepared. If you don’t know the product you’re selling, why should a business owner trust you? Don’t let your knowledge be limited to words in a script. Instead, invest in learning your products to the point that that knowledge becomes so woven into your psyche, that it instinctively fills your conversation with words that sell.

Will Adams

Will Adams is the GM for Small Business Services for GoSmallBiz.com. Will leads the company’s efforts in serving small business owners and their employees through consulting, software, education, employee training, and advocacy. Will is also the co-founder of a successful Software as a Service (SaaS) business that currently serves small museums and family offices throughout North America. In addition to his business interests, Will serves on the board of Atlanta Children’s Foundation, connecting individuals, organizations, and resources to meet the needs of children in foster care.