It's common for organizations to have a sales script while training sales reps — it helps them stay confident and ensure smooth communication with prospects.
While a script comes in handy when answering rapid-fire questions from clients, sticking too strictly to it can also make you sound like a robot.
When selling digitally, it's imperative to be empathetic and develop a human connection. According to Alan Zorfas and Daniel Leemon in Harvard Business Review,
"On a lifetime value basis, emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers."
But with remote selling growing exponentially daily, it has become difficult to connect emotionally with prospects. There are too many platforms and too much to do: find and engage with prospects, follow up, and make an impact in a limited amount of time.
A sales script can't teach you to build a relationship with the customer. It's up to the sales reps to take that initiative to build a rapport with the prospect, find creative ways to pitch them, or make the standard methods — like cold calling — a bit more fun.
Building on your skills, reflecting on your previous recordings, and learning from every pitch — while staying true to yourself is the key to selling in 2022.
Are sales scripts still relevant?
It's not that sales scripts are not important. They just need to ask the right questions.
Focus on developing methodologies that teach sales reps the essential skills needed to ace a sales call.
You can take lessons from previous customer calls by:
- Listening to multiple customer calls and analyzing for loopholes in your pitch.
- Sensing where the prospect seems to lose interest and improving on those aspects.
- Developing your own methodology for leading a sales call based on your unique experiences and personality.
Incorporating this into your structure of making sales calls or playbooks can help in the process of training and onboarding new recruits.
Noora Harju, Sales Manager at HubSpot, believes in having a humanistic approach to the sales call process.
"We used to have playbooks and scripts and now what we are doing with new sales reps is getting them to ask the right questions — teach them empathy, listening, and problem-solving before we enter a specific script in their minds," says Noora.
A playbook highlights best practices and strategies that sales reps can use in different stages of the sales call process. Playbooks do not dictate that reps follow a script but instead suggest problem-solving tactics they can mold according to the situation. Hence, they offer a more flexible alternative to the sales script.
Sales skills over product knowledge
As a sales rep, an in-depth knowledge of the product is essential — but selling requires more.
Jonathon Ilett, Head of Sales at Cognism: "Every seller has to have an understanding of your core competencies in the products, but when it comes to the sales skills, that's naturally how it's going to progress a conversation — especially when you move upmarket."
Nurturing sales skills entails digging deeper and reiterating at every step of a sales call.
What are the 3 sales skills every sales rep must have?
Let's look at what the experts say.
Jason, Sales Director at GetAccept, highlights:
- Creativity and problem solving, essentially thinking of things they haven't thought of before
- Laser-focused dedication to seeing things to the end. Leading a sales call is a tedious process. Hence, the ability to stay resolute is necessary, and that requires an unyielding passion.
Expert advice: To apply these skills, you must learn about the customer and their business. Dig deeper than just knowing the first thing on their LinkedIn profile.
First 10 minutes of a sales call
In the first 10 minutes of a call, you might want to start by building a rapport with the customer or going straight to the pitch — it depends on the customer.
Tyler Lessard, CMO at Vidyard, says, "The mistake people make with rapport is thinking that you need to show a prospect that you know about them, but in reality, it's much more about relatability and actually building a quick relationship."
He highlights three different elements of building a rapport:
- Finding things that they are interested in and talking about them.
- Sales reps also need to open up to find any common ground or something the prospect might find interesting about them.
- This helps the prospect open up and share more, making the conversation feel natural.
Sending a personal video will also have a huge impact on prospects. As a sales rep, along with rapport building, you also need to do brand-building.
Noora says, "We conducted a study analyzing our BDRs and sales reps, having one team doing calls and emails and one team doing video. When they were doing their prospecting, we saw that the conversion rate from that first touch was 40% higher with video — stats don't lie."
Should you change who you are to be more like the prospect?
The idea is not changing your persona and being inauthentic but how you can adapt to the prospect's mannerisms.
Fintan Lalor, Senior Sales Leader at Gong, says, "We want to adapt to who we are selling to without having to mimic people. If we read the situation a bit, we want to spend more time rapport building."
Gong is effectively using the language of the people they are selling to. They are going back to transcriptions of the sales call and analyzing them. This helps them reflect and change their approach where necessary and always stay ahead of the curve.
Is cold calling still effective?
Cold calling is a major time investment, and you need to know the right prospect for it. Finding creative ways of building a rapport can help start the conversation.
Try a more creative outreach by sending a personalized video or even memes to make the process a bit fun and natural.
Cold calling — in a circuitous way — helps you generate inbound demand. When done right, a cold call may not always be effective immediately, but it leaves an impression in the prospect's mind.
You can automate the cold calling process using a Power Dialer and save time for your reps. Some CRMs also provide phone numbers for specific countries. e.g., get a USA virtual phone number, and you can make calls from anywhere in the world. So, now your remote team can work from anywhere and still appear local to your prospects.
Noora says, "Inbound doesn't just generate itself from marketing. It also generates itself from rep activity. Reps constantly nurturing these leads, sending them helpful resources, giving them tips — leave a mark. Even if the prospect doesn't reply right away, it plants a seed in the prospect's mind. And then they might come across that material through LinkedIn or other sources, and then they come back."
There is no magic formula to sales other than being yourself and improving your skills.
Be interested in the prospect, research them to make the conversation more personal, and focus on the overall customer experience.
It is important to remember that you are a human selling to a human, so be empathetic and try to connect with the prospect. Learn from previous sales calls, analyze them and understand the voice of the customer.
A script makes you prepared, but your instincts help you win over the prospect.