Writing the Perfect Outbound Script

By Matt Harless

The outbound telemarketing script is your manuscript for success on the telephone. Regardless of the products or services you sell, the outbound telemarketing script trains the new employee, refreshes the veteran team member, and turns prospects into customers. Best of all, it defines the offer and brand better then any mail piece, advertising campaign, or direct response program ever will.

What constitutes a successful outbound telemarketing script? What elements go into creating the perfect script? These two simple questions lead to very complex answers. However, there are true and tried answers that every telemarketing organization can follow. By implementing these four simple steps, your call center can improve their outbound telemarketing results.

1. Understand the limitations: Even the best outbound telemarketing script is based on failure. Just like a successful baseball player who hits .300 and fails at the plate seven out of every ten at-bats, the best telemarketing script will only result in “conversion” from between three to fifteen percent. Much of the correct number is predicated upon the audience, the product or service, and the training agents receive. Every product and service is different. So, you create the perfect telemarketing script, and still, as many as ninety-seven percent of your prospects say “no.” It is quite daunting. Why then, if outbound telemarketing is based on failure, is there such a focus on the perfect script? Because, the improvement in even one percent can easily push a campaign to the stratosphere of success. Outbound telemarketing is predicated on improving just a few percentage points in order to gain success. A powerful script easily can turn a three percent success ratio into a seven percent success ratio. The variation, those four percentage points, makes a world of difference.

2. Understand the skill sets of your agents: The outbound telemarketing script should be written based on the skills and expertise of your agents. Not every script is the same. The outbound telemarketing professional selling hardware components to CEO’s of Fortune 100 organizations who earns $100,000 per year has different skill sets than the eight dollar an hour telemarketer who works part time. Sure, every telemarketing script needs an introduction and a benefit statement, but not every professional is trained and skilled to say things the same way. So, build the script around your staff. Tie your outbound telemarketing script into the hiring program. Ask your team to help craft the perfect script. After all, it’s for them.

3. Create a grid in order to understand your prospects: Your outbound telemarketing script is written for your prospects. It is delivered by your team, so clearly they need to embrace and learn the script, but the script is written to your prospects. They receive and act through what they hear. They hear statements, features, questions, and inflection based on the script.

So, create a “needs-based” grid in order to define your prospect base. What motivates your prospects to say “yes?” What are the two or three acceptable end-results from a telemarketing call? How does the script guide prospects to do what they want to do. Here is the most important thing to remember: The script starts with the professional who places the telephone call. However, a good script allows the prospect to take control. The script is prospect focused so wherever the prospect goes, the script goes right along with them.

4. Include five key elements to your outbound telemarketing script: Your outbound telemarketing script should encompass about twenty-five areas. Each one leads to the next. The perfect telemarketing script requires five key elements. Incorporate these elements into the script. If even one element is missing, then the whole script should be reworked.

1. Ask questions in order to get the prospect to ask questions. Outbound telemarketing professionals tend to talk about themselves, their products or services, and their features and benefits. They also ask questions that are programmed to elicit certain responses. This is bad news. Ask a question and be quiet. Ask a fascinating, thought-provoking question and let the prospect become the expert. Ask questions that spark the prospect to ask questions of you. When they ask questions, you have won. Why? First, you have captured interest and broken a barrier.  This is shown by the prospect’s inquisitiveness. Second, it provides you with opportunity to answer and provide information in your answer. Get them to talk, and get them to question you.

2. Differentiate your call from other calls they receive every day. You may feel unique, but only you feel that way. Your outbound telemarketing call is an ideal call defined by nobody but yourself. So, differentiate. Prospects say “no” because they see no difference or value between yourself and others calls. Make your call different. Create this from the very beginning. Acknowledge the fact your call appears to be the same as everybody else’s. If it really is, and, your organization has no differentiation, then fall back on the strongest differentiator imaginable. Yourself!

3. Provide the prospect with a reason to act. The perfect outbound telemarketing script encourages action. You would be surprised to learn that most outbound telemarketing scripts provide little or no reason for the prospect to act. They do not have a call to action in the beginning, middle, or end. Indecision should never live with the telemarketing professional. So, blend clear benefit statements with even clearer want statements. These want statements are based on emotions. Paint the picture and the concept. Generate want feelings. Prospects become customers because they want to; this want is their reason to act.

4. Introduce the purpose-process-payoff to the call in the early stages. Every telemarketing script should have a purpose-process-payoff program attached. “The purpose of my call” clearly states why your call is different and why it is beneficial for the prospect to listen. “The process is simple” defines what goes into the action sequences. Must the prospect say “yes”? Must they fill out a form? “The payoff for you” presents the win-win for the prospect. How many prospects become customers without believing in their payoff? The answer is none. They may not believe in the payoff you feel they should, but that is okay. As long as they see a payoff, then you have the perfect telemarketing script.

5. The prospect says “no” if they feel they will lose by saying “yes”. Virtually every outbound telemarketing script fails when it does not take into account why the prospect says “no.” Traditionally, the outbound telemarketing professional views the “no” as a straight objection and then attempts to uncover why the objection occurs. This is a recipe for disaster. The reason the prospect objects is because they feel they are going to lose. That is your objection every time. So, address that feeling up-front, and build a script that drills deeper from there. When the prospect says “no”, the prospect is saying they have not heard enough to be convinced. A “yes”, to them, would be a tragedy. So, bring that up. Tell the prospect you sympathize, can recognize their fears, and do not blame them. Then, take the telephone call to the next level. Don’t handle the objection. Handle the objection behind their feeling of loss.

Matt Harless is Vice President of Sales for PhoneWare, located in San Diego, CA. PhoneWare is a service agency with expertise in outbound and inbound sales and customer care campaigns. Contact Matt at 800-243-8329 or mharless@phonewareinc.com.

[From Connection Magazine June 2008]