Let Go of the Script

It has come up in several of my recent conversations with senior sales executives: far too many salespeople cling haplessly to contrived sales scripts when talking to prospects…and sometimes even when talking to existing customers!

Compounding this problem is the overlooked fact that most of these templated scripts are used countlessly by various sellers on the same prospects. As a result, it earns the opposite of its intended effect: instead of building trust, it sows suspicion.

So why does this practice persist? As my friend, David Newman, pointed out recently in our LinkedIn Live interview, impersonal, scripted sales talk is part of a larger mistake that salespeople make: they see their prospect as an adversary.

You must always see your prospect as your ally, and use language that matches that assumption. Be someone who treats others the way you want to be treated. Recognize that people make decisions lightning-fast based on how others make them feel. Especially in sales.

Here are field-tested solutions to help you let go of the script that’s holding you back from connecting meaningfully with prospects and customers.

5 Field-Tested Solutions to Help You Let Go of Sales Scripts

1. Take Yourself Out

The most immediate way to transform your approach to selling is by removing all your self-centered needs and assumptions from the equation. Stop looking at your prospects or sales targets as mere goals that exist purely for self-benefit. Be in service to others first. Listen to your language with prospect’s ears. Be honest with yourself. Would you reply to that email if the tables were turned?

2. Ask Better Questions by Listening First

A wise philosopher once pointed out: we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. You must listen carefully to your prospect’s unique problem before you can formulate a meaningful solution. That step gets missed completely by sellers who mindlessly stick to some script. The clearer you can see a workable solution, the more comfortable you’ll be with your language. And that makes what you have to say believable and relatable.

3. Get Help

There’s no such thing as objective, self-generated feedback. You must seek out a trusted advisor (or even a customer) to get honest feedback on how you talk (and listen) to your prospects. Review your existing marketing products with them. Give them a copy of an outreach email you’d send to a prospect. Ask: “Would you reply to this email if you were the prospect…how does this language make you feel?” Be willing to accept answers that might surprise you and prompt a rethink of how you communicate.

4. Implement, Measure, and Refine

Having listened carefully to trusted feedback, get ready to implement changes. But don’t just go back to the “spray and pray” approach to messaging. That would defeat the purpose of this much-needed exercise. Instead, measure skillfully. Send a new batch of emails. Consider using A/B messaging so you can see which approach works better. And be prepared to make adjustments to meet the unique needs of each targeted prospect.

5. Selling Is Not Theatre

Always remember that, in sales, scripts are merely guidelines in a highly iterative process. You’re not some actor performing King Lear on stage. You’re instead working with an audience whose needs are as varied as the solutions they require. And the only way you can connect meaningfully with prospects—and you must do this to become a top-ranked seller—is by treating each one with empathy and care.

Remember: your customer isn’t there to evaluate how well you’ve stuck to some shopworn script. All they care about is finding those who understand their problems meaningfully and who can come up equally meaningful solutions. Everything else is just noise.