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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Script or no script? That is one question that I think divides opinions about telemarketing.

If you've read my blog before then it'll be no surprise that I come down firmly on the "No Script" side (see my post "Stop reading & start listening!" as an example).

But there's still a lot of people out there who will tell you that to be successful with telemarketing you need a "killer script". Just google "telemarketing script" and you'll find plenty of people hawking that holy grail.

There are a number of sales trainers that I agree with on almost every aspect of cold calling and prospecting but when it comes down to scripts I just don't buy it.

The thing is, I've never met a seasoned telemarketing professional who actually uses a script.

If you're working with telemarketers in a traditional call-centre (where they've been dragged off the street, sat down in front of a phone and told to start dialling) then a script is probably necessary. For anyone new to telemarketing in fact, it's probably a good starting point as it gives you an idea of the structure of a call. But that's all it should be, a starting point.

Because, if you've ever received a call from someone reading a telemarketing script - I don't need to tell you why they just don't work.

The reality is that anyone who's been prospecting/telemarketing for any length of time (and all our people have at least 10 years cold-calling experience) will tell you that they don't use a script.

However, that doesn't mean that they don't know what they're going to say.

All telemarketing pros start each call with a plan of what they want to get out of it. They've done their homework before they pick up the phone so they understand exactly what they're calling about.

At Maine Associates, we work through a client briefing process so that our people can understand your business, learn the key messaging and positioning and prepare themselves for the campaign.

They'll typically have notes tagged to their monitor or stuck on the wall in front of them; they'll create a cheat-sheet with key points and messages on it. All this preparation means that when they actually speak with a prospect they know exactly what they want to say.

This frees them up to focus on the real job in hand, which is their call plan.

A telemarketing call is just a conversation. And if you know what you want out of the conversation (your call plan) then you don't need to read a script.

You can boil down any telemarketing call to just three steps: get their attention, tell them why you're calling and then ask them for what you want.

I've read many telemarketing scripts and they really do boil down to these basic steps. Sure, they'll be padded with lots of conditional branching, etc but they all follow a similar format. Most telemarketing companies that prepare a script just pull out a boiler-plate and drop in the company name and a copy of "what they do" pulled from a the client's website.

The other thing about each call being a conversation is that there will be a number of questions back and forth. Questions are essentially about qualification; the telemarketer's asking questions to qualify the prospect and the prospect is asking questions to understand if it's of interest.

Which is why you need to really know your stuff, rather than just read it off a script. No amount of branches in a script with cover every twist and turn of a live conversation.

And here's something that every seasoned telemarketer will tell you. After a while (which could be after a few hours or a few days) gradually a "pitch" evolves.

Now, to be clear, a pitch is not a script.

A pitch is basically an approach, an angle, that the telemarketer has found works for them. Two telemarketers could have a completely different pitch and still get results. That's because a pitch is something that comes from within.

When you know your subject matter, know what you want to get out of the call, and have spoken with a number of prospects, a pitch just starts to come together. You begin to notice the words that hit home and start to find a way around the common objections.

All good telemarketing professionals instinctively know when they've got their pitch.

Now, of course, the script brigade will you you that you write down your pitch and then you've got a script to hand over to someone else. But, for me, that's missing the point (plus I still don't think it would work).

Probably one of the main reasons I don't like scripts is that they take away a persons natural talent. It de-humanises the process (both for the telemarketer and their prospect)

I've found that the reason people insist on telemarketers reading their scripts is because they just don't trust them.

In my experience, marketers are the most guilty of this; they usually think that they can write the script best as they know how to write copy. Guess what, a telemarketing call isn't a prospect listening to someone reading sales copy at them.

Telemarketing is all about people.

Teach your people about your business, your value proposition and what qualifies as a lead and then let them get on with it.

By all means, monitor the results early on to speed up learning and help refine the pitch (we have regular conference calls during the first few weeks of any campaign) but, if you're working with experienced telemarketing professionals, trust that they know what they're doing and will develop their own way of making it work.

In the end, you only use a script if you (or your telemarketing company) don't trust the people making the calls.

And if you don't trust them, do you really want them calling your potential clients or customers?

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Posted by: David Regler @ 6:33 pm |   | Links to this post  

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  1. Feedback At 11:22 pm ~ Blogger Thatcher's Child said...

    This is possibly the best article on telesales I have read on the internet.
    Its 100% true and mirrors my own experience perfectly!

    Its just a shame that very small business that would really benefit from using this principle for calling their own clients, still think that the calls they get from india is how you should do telesales!
  2. Feedback At 1:43 pm ~ Blogger Synergy Connections - Telemarketing and Research said...

    I would counter this ,and say that a script is great for someone less confident, or where a product or services are technical/complex.

    While I agree you should never just read from a script (as it is noticeable when someone is), having a strong opening introduction and opening question can help get conversation going quickly and accurately.

    Once the conversation is going, it will become much more free-form, but again for the close you need to have a definite idea of what you want - an appointment, quote request, etc. and again a script helps you to stay on track and get all the information.

    Yours Sincerely UK
    Introductory letters, telemarketing scripts

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