Basics of Sales 9: Scripts

Earlier in this series I talked about the importance of core messaging as something that lies behind everything you do in both sales and marketing. Nowhere is that more evident than in scripts, primarily these are employed in cold calling but also product demos and the like.

Don’t Write Scripts

It seems odd to write an article about sales scripts and start off by saying I don’t think they work, but here we go. My advice would be not to write out a sales script. I don’t think that they really work, instead I think they make people sound like robots and more often than not when someone has said the same thing 1000 times you can tell on the phone. Instead, I would recommend having an FAQ.

Write out anything people might ask with a few bullet points. If you are selling something technical and someone non-technical picks up the phone it’s useful to have some notes that would explain it in laymen’s terms. If they ask who you currently work for, have an example to hand that you can tell them about. This is much less invasive than an out and out script, it’s more of a cheat sheet that would enable a new member of staff to quickly understand the sorts of questions they are likely to encounter.

Start From New

In terms of building up a framework, you’d be surprised how many companies really do miss the mark when it comes to that core messaging I talked about earlier. They think people buy from X but really they buy because of Y. Although you may be a one man band a useful exercise that I would recommend is trying to teach someone new how to sell your business. This is a great way to realise where exactly your skill set sits and also the sorts of seemingly obvious questions you might be overlooking.

Always Be Closing?

‘ABC’ made famous by the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, essentially means that everything you do and every conversation you have should serve the purpose of getting you closer to the actual sale. Now I agree with this to a point but feel it has been a bit mistranslated by others.

ABC does NOT mean you push the prospect as much as possible to try and get the business at all costs, potentially rushing a customer who isn’t ready for your own gain. I’ve said throughout this series that in no way is that good, sustainable business practice. You do however have to ask for the sale. Unless your product is earth shatteringly amazing (like a Pound Bakery Sausage Roll) no matter how many benefits you may have people will hardly be queuing up to buy them.
As such you actually have to put some pressure on that person to buy. Not a lot of pressure, but some. (You could always bribe them with lunch from pound bakery)

Relationships

There are a million and one reasons why someone might not want to buy from you that you probably can’t control. (why should I pay 90p for your sausage rolls when I can get 2 for £1 at Pound Bakery) This is not to say they may not been your future customer down the line. Sales is as much building a relationship and keeping in front of people as it is anything else.

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Basics of Sales 4: Set up

Now depending on your industry this will differ, but there are certain things you need to have in place in order to get your sales rolling.

A Contact Point

You need some way in which people can contact you. You would think this would be easy but anyone whose worked at home with family knows this isn’t the case! It can be quite embarrassing when a client phones and your mum picks up the phone and although some people appreciate the sort of ‘family business’ approach it might undermine you a little if your 5 year old is screaming about her Barbie in the background. It’s key not only to have a point of contact, but to get into the routine of checking it regularly. I’m often surprised at the amount of business who just don’t pick up their phone/email.

A list

If you are prospecting in any real capacity then you will need to keep a list of the details of the prospect, their contact details, last time you called and notes about them and what you’ve said. Even if you were running a bakery it would be good to count how many people passed that day, how many people you served, what they bought. This is an essential tool allowing you to pick up a conversation where it left off.

How Many People

As for how many people you should be targeting I would suggest to you that an often quoted figure for success is 5%. That’s right. If you do everything right you might be getting in front of 5% of people who are cold contacts. So targeting 10 people is no good. Targeting 10,000 people is also not good and likely to lead to fatigue/repetition so ideally somewhere in the middle. You want to target enough people you can go a good job, have time to follow up (which is key) but are reaching enough people to give yourself a chance. Typically I have about 150 companies on my list. Most often this will comprise 2/3 of people from previous months I’m still trying to contact and 1/3 new businesses.

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Post Project Steps 7: Review Questions

What sort of questions should you be asking yourself once a project is done in order to carry through improvements?

Sales
What worked? What approach/material did you use to win the prospect, how long did it take to go from an initial enquiry to actual work and where did that customer find you or vice versa.

Conversion
Talking of converting that sale into actual work…what questions did they ask you before you bought? What information did they need? Is there a gap in your marketing material that could be filled?

Brief
Reflecting on the brief, did you actually address the core concern? Is the end product widely different from what you originally planned? what was it that changed the customers mind?

Quote vs Reality

How much time did you originally give this project and trying where possible to add up things like phone calls and emails, how long did it actually take? If this took much longer than expected, why was that? What unexpected costs might have arisen?

Communication
I think it’s useful to add up how many emails and phone calls a project actually took. How would you rate your level of interaction with the client? Were they chasing you or were you being proactive. If something went wrong how did you address that? Internally how was the project communicated between everyone? Was there a clear understanding of what needed to be done?

Deliverables
Did you deliver when you say you would? What held up any project deliverables? Do they meet the initial brief? Objectively how would you rate the quality against the time given?

Improvements
What have you learnt from this project? What could you have done differently? How could you have saved time/money/mis-communication? How could different members of your team work better together? What feedback have you had the client themselves?

All of these elements should be fed back into the process to improve your product/service over time.

When Projects Go Bad 10: Unpaid & Unhappy

Following on from a project going bad and a relationship deteriorating with a client, its quite natural that we now turn our attention to clients who won’t pay.

No Great Surprise

When you’ve had a bad experience with a client it can often not come as a great surprise that they haven’t paid you. This can be especially painful if you’ve tried to resolve the issue, given extra time and effort to the project, they’ve gone along with it and now have just gone quiet.

Away From Her Desk

As you begin chasing up this client all of a sudden a mad tidal wave of work and meetings and sick days will hit them. No matter how and when you try and get a hold of them they won’t be in. No doubt the receptionist has been told to give you the run around. One sneaky tactic would be to have someone else phone and then if they manage to get through, you can at least speak to them. Another would be to find another contact, preferably someone in admin or accounts.

Sob Story

If you believe that the client is withholding the rest of your money due to what happened on your project, and are now talking to accounts then don’t give them a sob story. They don’t need to know the full ins and outs of what has happened. I would say you were chasing it up and that’s that. The main reason you’re talking to them is to affirm that it’s being withheld by your client and not due to an accounting error or something similiar.

Next Stages

Once you’ve affirmed that your client has decided not to pay you, you and then take the next steps. The first thing I would do is to create a folder with all communication logged throughout the project so you can demonstrate that you’ve done everything they asked in their original brief. After this send them a written warning that court procedures will take place if you don’t hear back from them.

On the Lawyers Front

I’ve said this many a time but small claims is a time consuming, stressful and will cost you money. The threat of lawyers however can be extremely useful. Befriend a lawyer and ask them to back you up if needed. They don’t need to do all that much a demand for money in a lawyers letterhead will normally mean they take you seriously.
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