Reps: Don’t Be Afraid to Talk Off-Script

Thu Sep 14, 2017

Kathy Crosett

If you’ve been working in sales for a while, and know the ins and outs of your product line, you’ve probably developed a script. I mean, how off-scriptelse are you going to get through all of those calls your manager wants you to make? Don’t get me wrong. A good script can lead  a prospect deep into the purchase funnel. But what happens when the prospect asks you an unexpected question? On his PartnersforExcellenceBlog, David Brock explores this topic.

Not every sales conversation will go as planned. In fact, few do. If you’re not prepared to put your pitch on pause and listen to the prospect, your close rate will suffer. Maybe your engineering or marketing department has come up with claims about how your product, maybe it’s hurricane shutters, performs 25% better than what the competition has. In your mind, that detail should be good enough to prod the prospect to order several shutters to display in his store. Let’s say this prospect has lived through a hurricane or two and wants more specific information. Do the shutters stay fixed in place 25% longer when sustained winds reach 100 mph? Or do the shutters protect against 25% more breakage and water infiltration in a Category 1 storm?

When your prospect asks questions like this, he’s giving you a signal that he’s interested in learning more. This is not the time to continue reading through your script. Before you start your calls, centralize the resources that contain backup information for easy access. If you’re on the phone with the prospect, pull up data files that you know will answer the question for him.

If you don’t have the answer, acknowledge that he is asking an important question. You can even engage in a bit of ego boosting and tell him not every store owner brings up these issues which will clearly be important to the end user who actually has to live through a hurricane.

The bottom line is a script is meant to help you start a relationship with a prospect. The prepared information is important to share with the person on the other end of the phone. Don’t freak out if he starts tossing questions that are out of order from the way you’d prefer to present your pitch. Stay calm, encourage him to keep asking questions, and try to weave the information you want him to have between the answers you give him.

When your client tosses you a curve ball, step back, take your time answering questions, and focus on building a long-term relationship.

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About Kathy Crosett

Kathy is the Research Director for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel.

View all posts by Kathy Crosett