Stock script

I am still amazed how companies continue to use scripts over the telephone for sales. It has never worked well. Don’t get me wrong, you might have some limited success with scripts, but nothing compared to what you would find with a finely-tuned questionnaire.

When I refer to scripts, I am talking about someone who makes a telemarketing call and has a piece of paper or computer screen in front of them with a bunch of words that just tells the customer of the offer or sales pitch, what you do, how great your company is and so on.

People have never wanted this one-sided conversation.

Years ago, I read this amazing book on relationship selling that covers how to build long-lasting relationships through the art and science of sales. It was written in 1866. The only thing that has changed in sales is technology, which would include tablets, computers, smartphones, databases, customer relationship management and all the high tech that is supposed to make us better.

Below is a sample of a phone call we receive that companies think works. They are not effective and not just small companies do this, but big, Fortune 100 companies still have these kind of sales tactics. This call happened to one of my friends who was the national training director for one of the largest jewelry store chains in the world.

“Hello, my name is Debbie and I am from ABC Chimney Sweep Company, and we have a special today. It is only $79. This includes cleaning your chimney, oiling the working parts inside, putting a screen on top of your chimney to protect you from birds or squirrels from coming inside your house, and we will give you a total inspection for only $79, regularly $129.

My friend, Marv, said “Hey, that sounds great, but what kind of special do you have for me if I don’t have a chimney?” Pretty funny, huh?

Instead, the call should have gone like this. “Hello, my name is Debbie and I am from ABC Chimney Sweep company and I would like to ask you two or three quick questions, and it will not take more than 45 seconds, I promise.”

Marv then says, “Sure, OK.”

Debbie now asks, “Do you have a chimney?” If Marv say yes, the next question would be, “When was the last time you had it cleaned?” If the answers would warrant any other conversation, then Debbie could now go into the special that she can offer. This is what we refer to as a sales conversation.

The best conversations are two-way, not one-sided. Get the customer to talk by asking questions to ascertain information from them. That is how to sell. People do not want to be sold, they want to be helped.

Most companies sell wrong on the phone. They think they are doing it correctly, but they are not. Most of the managers who design these scripts are not really trained in the science of sales to begin with.

Let me leave you with one of the only phone calls that I received from a company that was selling correctly – by not using a script on the phone.

It was a mobile windshield repair company. They introduced themselves and said, “If they could ask me one quick question.” It went like this. “Do you have any chips or cracks in your windshield?” If my answer was no, they are done. If my answer was, “Yes, I do have a chip,” they now say, “If we could come to your place of business or home and repair it for $69 would you be interested?”

By the way, my windshield chip is gone.


Hal Becker is a nationally known speaker on sales and customer service. He is the author of numerous business books including two national best sellers, “Can I Have 5 Minutes Of Your Time?” and “Lip Service.” Hal’s newest book on sales is titled “Ultimate Sales Book.” He can be reached at Halbecker.com.

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