Good question! There are solid arguments either way.
Certainly most institutions are solidly in the ‘Use the script!’ camp. As any business owner will tell you, it takes time, care and resources to sort out your core values, your mission and the clear ideas you want to be known for. Putting out a consistent message is an essential part of branding and using a script guarantees consistency. It means that, so long as their people are compliant with the script, the market is going to hear what you want it to hear, time after time, contact after contact.
For Advisors, entrepreneurs and sales professionals of all types, once you’ve worked out a script you feel good about, it saves time. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel every time you get out there to prospect.
For some Advisors who are good financial planners but crappy salespeople, having a script is a Godsend and they hang onto it for dear life. They’re relieved to have a job aid that helps them navigate sales conversations. They feel that ‘Even if I’m not ‘in the zone’, at least I know people will get the clear information they need to make a decision whether to move forward or not.’
And then there’s the ‘Ugh, never use a script!’ camp. A lot of entrepreneurs and sales professionals hate using a script. They feel fake or phoney. They think the script makes them come off stilted and inauthentic. They feel that way using it, and they’re sure it comes off that way to their prospects and clients.
These Advisors prefer to ‘wing it’. They say ‘I can connect with anyone – I don’t need a script’. But much of the time, these Advisors come to me because they are not happy with their closing rates.
So where do I sit in this argument? I’m in neither camp. I’m a big fan of predictable success and authenticity. Here’s what I believe – and practice in my own business.
Preparation is absolutely key to your success in sales. Just picking up the phone and wingin’ it seems ridiculous to me. Your time is valuable, qualified leads are valuable. Why on earth would you burn those leads through laziness and lack of preparation or leave success up to whether or not you’re ‘on’ that day?
On the other hand, reading through a script can be a slippery slope. It’s far too easy to zone out. The sheer repetition of a script can lead you to lose focus and more importantly, to stop listening to your prospect. A script can be a way to avoid making a genuine connection with someone. It can act as a shield – literally a barrier between two people.
There’s a 3rd way, and what I believe in:
Skills Mastery and True Connection
Sales conversations are fairly predictable in their make-up. Initial contact, building trust and rapport, uncovering a genuine need, overcoming objections, asking for the sale. Each part of these stages is made up of several skills. Once you understand the skills involved, you can practice and master them.
Skills like delivering a strong introduction, asking great questions, deep listening, picking up on clues, offering genuine empathy, articulating your value and your expertise in a compelling way. These skills are your tools – your essential building blocks. They are like muscle groups and movement to an athlete, or a palette of colours and brushstrokes to a painter.
With mastery, comes total freedom; the freedom to be fully present and make a genuine connection with your prospect, a.k.a., another human being.
So here’s your formula for consistency and success:
Know your key messages. Master your conversation skills. Act with integrity. Be present. Be yourself.