By Nathan Teahon
Recently someone asked me how to create a strong B2B telemarketing script. It’s a good question, and even after having helped create and implement thousands of successful scripts over the years, I don’t have quick answer to that question.
Instead I have multiple questions. What is the goal of the script? Is there an underlying goal lurking beneath the initial goal? Whom are you contacting? Why are you contacting them? Are you selling something? If so, what? Is it a service or product?
Many books have been written about creating calling scripts for telemarketing services, and many of those books address some of the above questions, but these only begin to address the situation. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to share five keys to create a successful B2B telemarketing script.
1. Thirty Seconds to Buy a Minute
In B2B telemarketing, you typically call someone who isn’t expecting your call. Even if you aren’t prospecting and you’re calling a current customer—for instance, to renew a subscription—that customer isn’t sitting by the phone eagerly awaiting your call. You are calling someone at work while they are presumably trying to do their job.
Most people are like me in that they don’t want to be unnecessarily distracted while working. If this is the case, you have a short window to capture a person’s attention in any meaningful way. The guiding rule is that “you have thirty seconds to buy the next minute of a person’s time.” Don’t waste it.
The first and most common mistake in a B2B telemarketing script is having the agent ask, “How are you today?” Managers who insert this into a script and agents who like to use it think it helps to build some rapport. No, it doesn’t. It does the opposite. If I don’t know you, don’t ask me how I am. At best, I’ll roll my eyes. You don’t care how I am. I don’t care how you are. We don’t know each other. It’s disingenuous.
At best, you’ve wasted twenty seconds of your thirty-second window to capture my attention in a meaningful way. At worst, you’ve captured my attention in a negative way, and you have no time to turn this into a productive call.
2. Don’t Monologue
You have a product to sell, and you must explain the concept, capture the prospect’s imagination, and give five reasons why this person needs that product. And don’t forget that special promotional offer! Before you know it, your script is seeping onto a second page in a block-like format with eleven-point type.
If you want to put someone into a coma, this is the way to do it. People don’t like to be “talked at,” and they don’t tend to respond favorably when they get the impression someone is reading a script to them. Break it up; build in some engagement and consultative questions when appropriate. It’s less about building a script and more about building an agent-controlled conversation.
It’s important to note that engagement and consultative-based questions in your script doesn’t mean you must sacrifice structure. It’s not an exclusive situation; you can build a script that allows agents to create engagement without sacrificing structure. Create a compelling introduction that leads into an engaging question. Let the customer’s response dictate where the script should go next, but plan for likely positive or negative responses accordingly.
3. Understand the Players
This point is twofold. First, realize that not every B2B telemarketing script can be executed in the same manner by each person. Certain agents are going to pull off a conversational script better than others. Those same agents may struggle if you ask them to follow a script verbatim, and vice versa.
Hopefully you can tailor your team around the needs and message of the program. If not, you need to carefully consider your approach and assess whether the team you have can execute it.
Second, consider your audience. Will your message resonate with those you’re attempting to reach? Is the offer compelling to them? Are you selling a product that solves a problem for the prospect? Is it affordable?
This is where quality assurance (QA) is key. A good QA department will not just focus on the individuals they’re listening to but also will be listening to see what resonates with the audience. Do you have the correct market targeted? There are several questions you need to understand about your audience when creating a script, and then monitor for these things once the campaign begins.
4. Call to Action
In many cases I refer to this key as “asking for the sale.” However, depending on the objective of the script, perhaps this isn’t the exact call to action. This is probably the biggest no-brainer on the list, yet it is still a common coaching area for agents. Sometimes this issue has more to do with ensuring you have a proper call to action in the script itself.
I’ve encountered many amazing presentations that ended up being for naught due to simply not asking for the sale. Things get weird and a little awkward. It’s like asking a girl to the dance; she knows it’s coming, except you don’t ask because you’re afraid, so she never responds, and you both end up disappointed. It’s simple: you won’t get a yes if you don’t ask.
It’s rare to create the perfect script on your first try. You must listen carefully to how the message resonates, see what people respond to, and determine what they ignore. Adjust accordingly.
Also, when you have found that perfect script, don’t think it will be perfect forever. Your audience will change over time, and a periodic review is essential.
Nathan Teahon is the vice president at Quality Contact Solutions, an outsourced telemarketing services organization. Nathan grew up in the business and intimately knows (and has played) every position on the field, including supervisor, quality assurance, call center manager, program management, account management, and call center psychologist. Contact Nathan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 516-656-5133.