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Why sales scripts don’t work

It’s time for sales teams to put away their scripts and get into the real world. Let’s find out more.

If you’re an SDR, do you work to a sales script? Or perhaps you used to be an SDR; did you use a script then? At SalesWorks, we train a lot of SDRs, some brand new to sales and their roles, some not. However, something we hear consistently is the word ‘script’. Personally, I’m not a fan. I think there are much better ways for salespeople to build a connection with their prospect than reciting a script, no matter how tried-and-tested it is. 

In this article, I want to explain why.

Scripts don’t grab attention

Studies show that when an SDR gets on a call with a prospect, they’ve got 7 seconds to make a first impression. That’s barely long enough to say your name! If you begin your call with a scripted line, you waste this time, which you later have to try and claw back. 

You may think that when you recite your script, you do it with enthusiasm and verve. But trust me, the prospect always knows. They can tell that you’ve said these lines 50 times today already. 

What’s important here is a pattern interrupt, something they’re not expecting you to say. Catch their attention, build intrigue and get them to look up from the email they’ve just opened and concentrate on you. You can’t do that reading from a script.

Scripts aren’t flexible

The beauty of selling over the phone, and the reason why it can be so effective, is that it’s a conversation, a two-way street. Before you start, you don’t always have an idea of where it’s going to go. However, great salespeople direct the conversation while adapting to the needs of the prospect. When you stick to a script, it’s more like a monologue, so you miss out on many of the opportunities that phone calls can bring.

Our prospects have objections ready to roll off their tongues, so it’s essential that we have flexibility with what we want to say.

Scripts aren’t personal

By their very nature, scripts are designed to be effective no matter who you’re speaking to. They’re tried and tested, honed to perfection, with every word designed for maximum impact. 

But, they’re not personal. They don’t address what’s unique about your prospect, their needs, hopes and fears. 

Personalisation is critical. It can’t be built into a script. If you’re using one, you miss the opportunity to show your prospect you know about them, their business and the value you can provide for them.

Scripts are about what you say, not what you hear

If you try reading something out loud, it puts pressure on you to read it perfectly. Because you’re concentrating on what you say, your ability to listen is limited.

Active listening is one of the most important traits in sales. In a conversation, your prospect will give signals about their pain points, or their buying process, or what they think about your product, or just about anything else. You just have to tune in, get the information and use it.

If you’re not focusing on the interaction between you and the prospect, you forego the opportunity to hear what they are saying.

A better way

I get that sales scripts can be effective, particularly for salespeople at the start of their career. However, I believe you lose more than you gain when you use a script. 

A better way to do things is to take time to train and coach your salespeople, on an ongoing basis, so they don’t actually need a script. You can give them a playbook to work with. Preparing words and phrases is a great idea, especially while reps are ramping up. But, give them the flexibility and confidence to say what they believe is the right thing at the right time.

Leaders should schedule regular call coaching sessions with their reps. They should record calls (good and bad) to go through with the individual reps and the rest of the team. They should initiate roleplays and get team members to help each other. It’s what I see the best teams doing. If you’re not doing it, you’re missing out.