By Wayne Scaggs
Effective script writing takes time and planning, but it is well worth the effort. Providing your agents with an effective script is the primary factor in a successful call campaign. Here are some ideas on how to write a script that will enable your agents to make the sale, get the appointment, finalize an order, or simply develop a long-term relationship with clients.
Pre-script planning: Creating a script that will lead to a sale requires investing time in a pre-scriptwriting planning session. Start by writing down the purpose of your call campaign. Next, determine the objective of your calls. The plan should include the features, benefits, and competitive advantages you want to use in your selling messages and offers. You must also anticipate the obstacles or objections your agents will encounter and need to handle.
The cardinal rules: There are two critical rules governing script writing, or any sort of sales interaction. First, never say or do anything that will make your prospect or client feel wrong or stupid. Experience has proven that clients are more likely to stay on the phone with you if they feel you are safe to talk with. Second, whoever asks the questions controls the call. Your agents’ success depends on you being able to maintain control.
The opener: Decide what you can say to create a trustworthy feeling in the first 20 seconds of the call. Simplicity, sincerity, and clarity are key issues. Don’t make the prospects try to figure out who you are and what you want.
Consultative selling: Consultative selling is defined as determining the prospect’s need and making suggestions or recommendations that show how your product or service can fill the need. This technique enables the agent to be perceived as a helpful problem-solver and helps build trust.
Relationships: To be effective at consultative selling, the agent must be able to initiate a dialogue with the client. The statement/question technique is an excellent way to initiate dialogue between the agent and prospect. It gives the agent control of the call and is recommended throughout the script to enable the agent to guide the conversation and achieve the objective.
The sequence for the statement/question technique is to make a statement, ask a question, acknowledge the response, and make another statement followed by another question, continuing the cycle. Statements should always carry a selling message, which includes features, benefits, and competitive advantages. Questions should, for the most part, be open-ended. Well-framed questions guide the path of the call, and demonstrate genuine interest in the client’s situation.
Handle objections: Objections are handled by paraphrasing what the prospect said, making a selling statement relevant to the objection, followed by a closing recommendation, or consultative suggestion.
Closing: Closing is the logical conclusion to an effective presentation. The intent is to help the client make a decision. It’s usually done at or near the end of the presentation or whenever the agent feels he/she has met the prospect’s needs. Closes can be written in the form of a simple question or phrased as a contained choice. A good script should have at least two alternate closes, one using the simple closing question and one with a contained choice question. Experienced agents can usually tell which approach is more likely to be successful with a particular prospect.
Completion: The completion or wrap-up of the call should confirm all understanding and agreements reached during the call. This is the place to verify addresses, phone numbers, shipping dates and all other relevant aspects of the transaction. This segment of the call is intended to create certainty so the client will know what to expect and what will happen next. A good wrap-up lends professionalism to the presentation.
Scriptwriting can be a rewarding and revealing experience, but it takes practice and dedication to do it well. Also, remember that scripts are an iterative process. They can and should always be improved upon based on feedback from agents.
Wayne Scaggs is president of Alston Tascom, Inc. He can be reached at 909-548-7300 or 866-483-7266.
[From Connection Magazine – November 2002]