Sales Strategy: Script vs Structure

Sales scripts; are they good or bad? Helpful or unhelpful? These are questions I get quite a bit. Let’s talk sales strategy; scripts versus structure. 

Sales managers or salespeople will ask me my opinion on a scripted sales presentation from time to time. I usually direct it back at you and ask you the question, do you know when someone is using a memorized script with you? And of course, the answer is yes. We can hear a memorized script coming from a mile away. 

It’s very interesting to note that one very large homebuilding company several years ago took this approach of having the salespeople memorize a long series of questions, and they were told that they had to ask these questions in that specific order, every single time.

How do you think that went over? Yeah, you guessed it. The buyers hated it because the salespeople said, we’re going to go in this direction and the buyers wanted to go in a different direction. That’s a problem, and I get it. But here’s another problem, and it’s the opposite end of this particular spectrum. Can you also tell when salespeople don’t have a coherent strategy?

So often this is the case for salespeople who are left to do what they want, and maybe they find a path and maybe they get the sale, but oftentimes they do not because they’re missing a strategy and they’re all over the map in their own questioning pattern.

So where do we find the right balance?  How do we avoid the two extremes?

On the one hand, a presentation that is overly rigid in its scripting. And on the other hand, a completely unstructured free form.

I think it’s best if we start by redefining what a script is. I actually have no problem with the concept of a script if it’s your script. The problem is when we’re handed a script and it sounds nothing like us, you see, there’s a perfect way to deliver a motivation question that’s customized to you.

There are a hundred different ways to use the summary close, and you have to decide, what’s the best way for me? What does my voice sound like? If you look at it this way, great screenwriters don’t just write for the part. They adapt for the performer and great actors and actresses, they use the script, but not so much as a word-for-word thing, at least not the good ones.

Take one of the most famous lines in movie history. Humphrey Bogart saying to Ingrid Bergman… “Here’s looking at you, kid.”

That line, interestingly enough, was totally improvised. It was also totally consistent with the script you see in a movie or a play. The purpose of the script is not to get the words out. The purpose of the script is to give a path so that everybody who is taking part in that scene knows where this is going.

Oftentimes the very best of things happen when we use the script as a structure and then adapt according to the exchange with the person I’m talking to. That’s what we want to see a sales structure that allows you to vary with your customer.

So I would just challenge you and ask you this question. If I asked you to write down, in bullet points, your sales structure, could you do it? I’m not asking you to write up a script. I’m just asking you to write out the strategy. When I have some structured points in my mind, then while I’m talking to my customer or more specifically, while my customers are talking to me I’m not thinking about my next line.

I’m totally concentrating on that customer. When the customer is finished, what they’re saying, I can simply ask myself, what’s the next step in the structure of the presentation that I have? That’s when I ask my next question. I’m not thinking about the question the whole time. I’m simply referring to the structure. That’s why I designed the 4:2 Formula®.

It’s exactly the kind of framework that I’m talking about today. Four discovery questions are followed by two solution questions that will help guide you all the way from the first handshake to the final close. If you’re in new home sales, this is the most proven structure out there. You can learn more at jeffshore.com/42fa.

So I’ll just ask you, how well-structured is your presentation and is it well-structured enough that allows you to start thinking of the perfect way to be able to ask these questions? That’s when you’re performing at your peak level.

Until next time; learn more to earn more!


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About the Author: Jeff Shore

Jeff Shore is the Founder and President of Shore Consulting, Inc. a company specializing in field-tested and proven consumer psychology-based sales training programs.

Jeff is a top-selling author, host of the popular sales podcast, The Buyer’s Mind, and an award-winning keynote speaker. He holds the prestigious Certified Speaking Professional designation from the National Speakers Association and is a member of the NSA’s exclusive Million Dollar Speaker’s Group.

With over 30 years of real-world, frontline experience, Jeff’s advanced sales strategies spring from extensive research into the psychology of buying and selling. He teaches salespeople how to climb inside the mind of their customers to sell the way their buyers want to buy. Using these modern, game-changing techniques, Jeff Shore’s clients generated over $30 billion in sales last year.