Scripts have been around almost as long as sales. From that moment where Grog the Caveman needed his cousin Og to go to the next cave and trade a freshly killed rabbit for a big stick and thought, "Og no talk good. Og need words. I make words for Og to say."
And of course we all know how Og reacted, "Me no like Grog's words. Too many to hold in brain (plus they just don't feel like the natural me, I don't want to appear mechanical and insincere during this transaction, it may turn the negotiations sour). Me just take stick and eat rabbit."
I am not a huge fan of sales scripts (if you hadn't already put that together). It is not so much the idea of a script that I despise, it is the misuse of them.
My son is 11 years old and has earned a 2nd degree black belt in Taekwondo. Yup, that is black belt plus another level of black belt at 11 years old. (Insert proud dad smiling goofily here). As a side note, part of his 2nd degree test was to be blindfolded and then told to locate a board somewhere in the gym by the sound of his master tapping on it a limit of 3 times. When he found it, he had to break it with his elbow. Crazy stuff!
What does that have to do with sales scripts? Believe it or not, the process of using a script and attaining a black belt are very similar.
Through all of the colored belts my son had to work his way through to earn that first black belt, he was taught very precise movements. Hands and feet needed to be in perfect positions, movements needed to be at exact speeds and long series' of motions had to be memorized and executed perfectly. All the while his strength, balance and agility increased. When he tested for that first black belt, he was watched like a hawk for these intricate movements to be executed perfectly. But then ... training for his second degree black belt was different. He had mastered the mechanical movements and was now learning to make it his own. He was allowed to mold those movements into how his body naturally worked and adjust them depending on how he saw each situation. Creativity and decision making entered the picture. He took gymnastics and has mixed it with his martial arts and come up with some pretty impressive moves. And yes, he could probably beat me up if he wanted to.
If sales scripts are used properly, it should be very similar.
Do not hand a script to your salesperson and say, "Here, I want you to memorize this and use it when someone comes in the door. If they say this, use this script to answer them. If they say that, use this script. It's best of you just memorize them all so that you get them right every time."
First of all, that will drive your sales person insane. Secondly, it will drive your customers insane. Your sales person will feel like a machine and your customers will feel like they are talking to a machine. That just won't lead to many sales.
Instead, view the scripts you have as a way to prepare for the sales black belt. Give scripts to your salespeople with an attitude like, "These scripts will give you an idea of the things I want communicated to our customers. Spend some time with them so that you understand the key points and then find ways to say them in a way that you would normally speak."
Like a martial art, the basic mechanical movements of a sale must be taught. But don't stop there. Don't send your salespeople out sounding like a bunch of robots. Allow them to take that mechanical training and make it their own. Let them communicate your message through their own word. They will be much more comfortable and genuine which in turn will make your customers more comfortable and willing to do business.
If you have hired quality salespeople (which I am sure you have) put the trust in them that they deserve and let them create results for you.
Grog would be proud.