5 Lies Salespeople Believe About Scripts

TSAE Ostrich

We’re going to start this post with a quick journey back to the days before that magical invention known as “caller ID.”

How many times did you live through the following scenario?

You’re just sitting down to a delicious dinner with your family. The meal is practically calling your name after a long day at work.

As you get that first delicious bite onto your fork, the phone rings.

With a sigh, you take the bite, get up from the table, and walk over to the phone to find out who would be calling now and to try to deal with it, and get rid of them as quickly as possible.

Then your worst fear becomes reality.

It’s a telemarketer from the cable company, the local paper, the phone company, or someone wanting to take a “very short” survey.

It sounds like they’re reading (poorly) off a page.  You can tell their heart isn’t really in it, and you want to end the call as soon as possible.

Do you remember how you eventually just HAD to hang up to end most of those calls, even while the person was still droning on, clearly still reading from a script book?   I’m sure for some of these telemarketers, their strategy was “keep pressing until you get a sale or they hang up on you.”

I know we’re all grateful this practice is now almost extinct as we’ve implemented the do not call list and seen the massive shift from land lines to mobile phones.

I think largely due to that type of experience, most salespeople shudder at the thought of using a script…or having one used on them.  Thanks to the low value telemarketers of the 20th century, “script” is now a dirty word in the world of sales.

That needs to end.

By the end of this post you will no longer want to neglect them.


So, let’s talk about 5 of the lies some (most?) salespeople believe.

LIE #1 – If I use a script, I can’t be a good listener because I’ll have to think about what to say next.

Truth:  Are you familiar with the term “internalization?”   Internalization is the process of embedding your values, motives, or in this case, your language, into your CORE.

When something is so well known, so closely held, that you no longer have to think about it…it is internalized.   If you’re stumbling about or ignoring the customer, because you don’t recall what to say next…your script is not internalized.

On the flipside, if the script is internalized, you never have to think about what to say next ever again.  You can just ask the list of questions you always ask, and listen to everything the client says!

When a script is not internalized, it doesn’t sound believable to the prospect, it FEELS horrible to say, and they may feel like they’re part of an act.  THIS result and feeling is why people think they hate scripts…and very few will ever take the time to internalize.

LIE #2 – I don’t sound natural when I use a script.

Truth:  If you feel this way, you’ve either chosen the wrong words, or you haven’t practiced enough.  This is closely tied in with Lie #1.  Embrace the fact that you’re going to say the same things over and over again.  That’s what is going to allow you to truly listen to the client.

In professional football (and every other major sport), teams run repetitive drills of basic, fundamental movements.  They repeat the movements over and over and over.  They repeat the movements hundreds and even thousands of times so that there comes a time that the players can see the field, recognize what’s coming, and move perfectly before they are concsiously thinking about it.  

You may have heard of “unconscious competence.”

That’s the level of skill they’ve achieved.

They DO NOT WING IT.  You don’t have to either.

Think about this: the entire Super Bowl is SCRIPTED.  The team that wins is the one that runs their scripts (aka plays) the most proficiently.  Why should you operate differently?

“Well, every situation is different!” the naysayers will say.  That is nonsense.   You run into dozens of VERY similar situations on the regular.  You find yourself on a similar field, playing with similar opponents, working toward a similar goal.  Don’t lie to yourself and say “everything is different.”    “Everything is pretty damn similar” would be far more accurate.

It’s your job to perfect and naturalize your script.  You get the opportunity to make hundreds or thousands of sales calls per year.  That’s a pretty fantastic arena to test out your scripts and see how things feel best, sound best, and work best.  If you practice enough, there will come a point where it won’t feel like a script…but remember, it will never NOT be a script.  🙂

LIE #3 – Scripts aren’t authentic/personal.

Truth:  Most salespeople walk into a majority of their sales calls with no agenda.  In the last 10 years I’ve seen dozens of newer salespeople inadvertently blurt out low value language, usually in an effort to appear NOT pushy or aggressive.  They can’t articulate what they have to offer quickly and clearly and they proceed to waste the buyer’s time.

To put in the time and effort to have a clear agenda; to have personally crafted the specific language and questions that allow you to decide if there is a fit, propose a solution, close for an order, and deliver that solution in as little time as possible…what could be more authentic than that?

Is the key to your “authenticity” to not have a clear agenda and language picked out ahead of time?   You need to make sure you think up what to say right in the moment or all is lost?

These are ridiculous questions right?

This is what most salespeople do.  

Don’t be like most people.

LIE #4 – It’s all about the overall message, the exact word choice isn’t as important

Truth: This is some of the most dangerous thinking you can do.  It leads to failure.  Jim Rohn said “casual-ness leads to casualties.”  You can’t be casual.  You need to get very specific and direct.

If you don’t take the time to plan; If you don’t make the effort to craft something incredible, you’re wasting a HUGE portion of your time and energy by choosing to wing it.

If you screw up your choice of words, you might end up sending a totally different message than you intend.   I’ll give you a prime example of this:

About a year ago I had a rep call me up and ask for help.  He said he was using the script we had given him for setting appointments, but he wasn’t getting very many appointments set.   He wanted to know what he was doing wrong, because he was “using the script!”

Knowing people go off script (to disastrous effect) all the time, I asked him to tell me exactly what he was saying to the prospects on the phone.

He told me he was saying “Hi I’m Soandso from Ernest Packaging.  I’d like to set an appointment with you to come out and learn a little bit about your company…”

“Let me stop you right there Soandso,” I interrupted.  “That’s NOT the script.”

That particular section of our script actually goes like this: “I’d like to coordinate a meeting with you for next (whatever day).  I’d like to ask you some questions about how you guys pack and ship your products, and based on your answers, I’ll only tell you…”

This rep didnt understand the wide chasm in the customer’s mind between, “I’d like to come out and learn a little bit about your company” and “I’d like to ask you a few questions about how you pack and ship your products.”

“I’d like to learn a little bit about your company” sounds like its going to take forever.  It’s far too vague.  NO ONE wants to spend an indeterminate amount of time with a strange salesperson, teaching that stranger “a little bit” about their company.  I shudder to think of someone saying this to a prospect.   Yet, to most salespeople this would probably sound like a reasonable thing to say.  You may have said it before.  You may have said it today.  ;/ I’m telling you it scares people away.

“Ask you a few questions about how you pack and ship” paints a CLEAR picture in the buyer’s mind about what’s going to happen.   Don’t get me wrong, we still don’t set every appointment, but I guarantee we set a hell of a lot more appointments with specific, easily imaginable proposals than with vague, seemingly time consuming requests.

You’ll remember that in order to sell your ideas effectively, you need to paint a clear picture about what will happen, and invite them along.

LIE #5 – I’ll never use a script.  Scripts just aren’t my style.

Truth: All of your training, personal experiences, and beliefs have formed into a basic message that you have proceeded to internalize and you now communicate that message on any particular sales call.

Deep within your mind you have a personal script for every situation…even if it’s “loose.”

You can lie to yourself and say it’s “not a script,” but if you generally say a certain thing in a certain situation, that’s exactly what it is, but due to the stigma of scripting, you may have convinced yourself you aren’t doing it.

You are.

Everyone is.

If you’re personally convinced your actual approach is that you just go in “fluid” every time and never say the same thing, but you DO believe you generally communicate the same message, then what you’re actually just admitting is that you have a VERY sloppy internal script.

But it’s still….a script.  Oh NO!  You’re doing the thing you hate!

The words you choose matter.

What do you say on a regular basis right now?  How do you approach a customer?

Take 15 minutes and write down what you would normally say.  Analyze it.

Get someone extremely successful to take a look at it.  Is it good?  Does it serve you?

You may be saying something absolutely terrible and you don’t even realize it.

So if you take one thing away, I want it to be this: No matter how you may feel about scripts, the fact is YOU ARE USING ONE TO SELL TODAY.

So, is it time for you to make an upgrade?

If so, get with your manager or a coach and craft the best message you can by choosing the best possible words for your 4 or 5 most common selling situations.

Memorize those words.

Internalize those words.

Start being more effective…now.

Good selling everyone!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.