March 1, 2016

Ask around, and you will find that sales managers have varying opinions on sales scripts.

Some organizations swear by the effectiveness of having their salespeople read a script word-for-word, while others feel strongly that allowing a salesperson to initiate a more natural conversation with his/her customer works better.

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If you are unsure of whether or not your salespeople should use a script, read on. This blog post will discuss the pros and cons of suing a sales script so you can make an informed decision about how your team should interact with customers so they can achieve higher sales results.

The Pros and Cons of Using Sales Scripts

The Pros of Using Sales Scripts

One of the most important benefits of sales scripts for businesses is that they help keep costs low. For example, if high employee turnover in the sales department is a problem, managers can save time and money by handing new salespeople a script as opposed to spending time and money training everyone (although this is not an effective way to manage a sales team or onboard new hires).

Here are several other benefits of using sales scripts:

  • Consistent branding message delivery – When salespeople have a script to read from, you can feel confident knowing that company messaging will be delivered correctly on every sales call. This helps salespeople avoid unintentionally damaging the company brand.
  • Easy performance measurement – If a sale script is used the same way on every call, you can easily measure its effectiveness, pinpoint problems with the script and make tweaks to improve it. That is because when every salesperson uses the same script, they eliminate many other variables that might make it otherwise difficult to pinpoint why a sales call was not effective.
  • Overcoming objections – When a customer tells your salesperson that he is unable to make a purchase for a specific reason, your salesperson can look to her script for an appropriate response. If the script has effective responses to many customer objections, it can be a useful resource to help salespeople confidently close more sales.
  • Decreasing stress for new reps – When a new salesperson joins your team, she may feel unsure about how to sell your products/services and what to say to customers. A script eliminates this uncertainty by providing her with every point she needs to communicate to the customer.
  • Collective successWithout a good sales script, your salespeople may achieve varying results. But if everyone uses the same effective script, they are all empowered to sell more.

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While these are all compelling reasons to use sales scripts at your business, also consider the following cons of using sales scripts before you start handing them to your team.

Cons of Using Sales Scripts

study conducted using Qualtrics showed that 78% of call center managers said that getting reps to “follow a script” was a primary focus, but only 38% of scripted calls were actually successful.  With the vast majority of scripted calls in that study failing, you have to wonder about the effectiveness of sales scripts overall.

Here are a few more reasons you may not want your sales team to use a script:

  • Robotic conversations – If salespeople are not allowed to stray from a script at all, they may miss out on opportunities to build rapport with customers by responding in a genuine, conversational way. For example, a customer may say something like, “Oh, you are calling from Michigan? I used to live there!” But if the salesperson is not allowed to stray from the script and respond to an unusual customer repose this way, she may end up responding with something robotic like, “This call is being recorded for quality assurance purposes.” It is easy to see how that could make a customer feel like he is simply being “sold to” rather than helped by a real human being.
  • Limited customization – Each customer has unique wants, needs and goals. When your salespeople are forced to work within the confines of a sale script, they may not be able to tailor their pitch to the customer as much. As a result, the customer will not feel as compelled to buy and the salespeople will likely miss out on sales.
  • Lack of flexibility –  A salesperson who is Driven and naturally gifted at sales may feel like a sales script holds her back and leaves her unable to change conversations with customers in a way that will may them more likely to end in a sale.

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Another point to consider is that customers can often tell when a salesperson is reading from a script, and they are often less interested in continuing the conversation as a result. That is why a consultative approach paired with active listening is typically more effective than reading a script word-for-word when selling to customers over the phone.

The Final Verdict on Sales Scripts

If used correctly, sales scripts can be effective. Instead of having your salespeople read off a script word-for-word, tell them to use a hybrid approach where they can reference the script for key points while still customizing each conversation depending on the customer’s specific wants and needs.

Doing this will ensure that your salespeople can feel confident knowing that they have a script to help them overcome objections and deliver company messaging accurately while also keeping the conversation natural and building rapport with each customer.

Here are a few ideas to help you successfully implement a hybrid approach to sales scripts:

  • Have your salespeople re-word their script to fit how they naturally talk so customers will perceive them as genuine.
  • Encourage your salespeople to memorize their script so they do not have to stop to reference it during customer phone calls. This will help conversations flow more naturally and make your salespeople feel more confident.
  • Offering training sessions where your salespeople use role-playing activities to rehearse their script so they can become more comfortable using it. When you do this, you can throw unexpected variables in to see how well-equipped your salespeople are to handle unexpected challenges while talking to customers.
  • Monitor the script’s effectiveness as much as you can by looking at metrics and listening to calls, and make changes based on what works and what does not work.

Overall, a script can be a great learning tool for new salespeople and a valuable document for your team to reference during calls, but they should ultimately be able to handle any call based on their own experience, personality, and the customer’s specific needs. Fortunately, if you are a sales manager who has implemented effective training and coaching programs, your salespeople will be able to do this with ease.