Think Before You Speak

A big mistake that companies make in sales is not bothering to take the time to think about the best way to position what they are selling, creating a sales script for it and practicing their pitch.

Sounds obvious right?

Business owners and salespeople constantly surprise me by not taking the time to:

  • Develop a succinct way of explaining what they do and who they help,
  • Practice what questions they will ask in a sales conversation, and
  • Create the best answers to common questions.

There is a mistaken belief that you will be on your “A” game every time you are talking to a prospect and will be able to “wing it’ on the spot and engage, inspire and enrol the prospect every time.

Madness!

Professional sports teams spend dozens of hours a week practicing “plays”.  A play is a known sequence of actions that the team has worked on together.  When the play is put into action it has a higher likelihood of creating the desired result.  It also puts the entire team on the same page.  They will often have developed a playbook and their players will study it during practice and before a big game.  When the captain or the one with the ball signals for the play to happen, everyone knows what their role is and the goal.

The same should go for professional salespeople and sales teams. The sales manager or business owner should work with the team to make sure everyone knows exactly what is expected and what success looks like.  When it comes to sales and business growth, it is vital to practice all the key elements of a sale:

Teams and salespeople who aspire to get better need to understand:

  • What questions to ask the client to identify their needs,
  • How to position the solution in the best light, and
  • What to say and what direction to take when a client asks a question.

By having the discipline to do this, you and your sales team will be able to identify where the conversation is currently and immediately access the best question or response.

“Winging it” is not how a professional sports team operates and definitely not how a professional salesperson operates.

Now, I hear “using a sales script makes it sound fake or forced” all the time.

No, they don’t!  Unpractised and lazy salespeople are what makes a sales script sound fake and forced.

Take a moment to think about a sale that happens almost every night, in almost every household.  That sale is the actors in television and movies convincing you that they really are living those lives, experiencing those problems and having those adventures.  We all know that Bryan Cranston is not a high school science teacher, turned drug dealer, but that didn’t stop me from becoming extremely invested in how he faired in Breaking Bad. 

It is movie and TV awards season at the moment.  There are a lot of talented people who have dedicated their lives to perfecting their craft and getting paid millions to do it.  How many of them think that a script makes them sound fake or forced?

So, what are the key things you need to know right now?

  • What you do and who you help.
  • Questions that will drive the customer to realise that the problem they are hoping to solve needs solving now not later.
  • Ways to handle common questions to drive greater understanding by the salesperson.
  • How to end a meeting to move the sale forward.
  • How to ask for the sale.

So, this week set aside 15 minutes in your sales meeting, or by yourself and go through each of the above points.  Go around the room or call a friend and try and work out the best possible thing you could say or question you could ask.

The funny thing is that most business owners and salespeople know this will help, however, very few will do it.

So, go for it, invest that time.  I know you will be far better off than your competition. You will make sure your customer:

  • Understands the problems you solve better,
  • Realises they need to solve it faster, and
  • Shorten the sales cycle dramatically.

Remember, no one ever got paid $20 million or won an Oscar without a script.