7 Commandments of Scripts

elevatorA sales script is a short, rehearsed speech that informs someone about your industry, your company, your product or you. Scripts are useful in client meetings and other situations as well – in a coffee shop, at a party.

You probably already have scripts: those things you say over and over about yourself or your company or your job. They grew organically from having to present yourself or from being asked the same question over and over (like what do you do?).

A short script about who you are and what you offer can position you as credible, intriguing and worth spending time with. The ability to express your essential message quickly and cleanly sets you apart from the crowd.

Here are the seven commandments of scripts:

  1. Focus on one key point per script that illustrates something unique about you or your company.
  2. Tell a story. Facts and figures that support the story are even better. Stories are about people. Data and a person with a personality are the ingredients of the best scripts.
  3. Be relevant to your audience. Have custom scripts for specific types of clients. Don’t use scripts that aren’t relevant.
  4. Every script ends with a question. The goal of your meeting is to learn by asking questions. Ending with a question to your client reminds you of that. And you never know when you’ve earned enough credibility that the person you’re talking to will start answering your questions.
  5. Be brief. A script is said in less than sixty seconds.
  6. Be brief, really. Monologues are only for evil superheroes.
  7. Always finish with a question. Got it?

Figure out what you’re already saying and follow the seven commandments of scripts to make your scripts better.

The Game Trap

2 cageIf you hear yourself saying, ”It’s not personal. It’s just business,” be careful. Ask yourself if you’ve made a decision you’re not proud of.

“It’s just business” and “not personal” imply that there are different guidelines or values we apply depending on whether we deem the interaction as ‘personal; or ‘business’. If in the ‘personal’ interaction we apply our life values, what values or rules are we applying in the business interaction?

Having two sets of values implies business as a game. This tempts us to view the primary goal as getting the best score (money). There are two problems with this.

First of all, it is personal. For the entrepreneur who invested five years of his life in a start-up? For the manager who’s wrestled a new division to life? For the team leader who’s nurtured the growth of the members of her team? For the small business owner who has employed the same friends for 25 years? For you when your best client signs a deal with a competitor? It is personal.

Second, the “game” of business and sales has no rules. In the end the only rules are the rules you choose to live by. And if you choose to live by them and then apply them selectively (as in this doesn’t count, this is business), then you’re not really living by them.

Strive to be the same “you” in business and everything else. In the end you’ll be happier, healthier and more fun to be with.

Making Initial Contact

Once you have at least a loose connection to your prospective client, you need to communicate it to your client, so when you call and ask for an opportunity to meet them, they already know who you are and how you’re connected to them…

Employing the Loose Connection

Loose connections may be a nightmare for an electrician, but they are wonderful for sales people. If you want to get a yes to your request for a meeting, it’s useful if you’ve found a connection you share with your client, and even better if they know what that connection is. That’s what this post is about — activating the connection you’ve found.

The process for activating your loose connection is important. Use two separate communication methods (a belt and suspenders strategy is usually enough to ensure that the message gets through). Your email might go to a spam folder, your phone message will likely be listened to, a handwritten note might end up in the circular file, but it will probably be read. Send two types of missives, a call and a note, a call and an email, an email and a note, or an email from someone they know, then an email from you.

The content of your initial message explains who you are, the connection you have to them, and either asks for a meeting or says you’ll be calling to ask for one in the next week. If it’s an email, it’s less than a hundred words.

Your note, email and/or message might say, for example, “ Hi I’m Mary Snell at Berklee. I saw you speak on a panel at the user conference last week. I asked you the question about advanced interfaces [reference to how you’re connected]. I’d be pleased to get together with you and talk about whether working together might benefit us both. I’ll give you a call in the next week [and you do call in next week] to set up a time that works for you if you’re willing. Thanks.”

You can decide if this is better than the unconnected alternative: “ Hi I’m Mary Snell from Berklee. I’d love to get together with you and talk about whether working together might benefit us both. I’ll call you this week to set up a time if you’re willing. Thanks.”

You’ve found the connection to your prospective client. You communicated that connection so they know how they’re connected to you. Our next post will talk about the call for the meeting request; what you say and how you say it.

Finding the Loose Connection

Getting a “yes” rather than a “no” to a meeting request usually requires just one thing: a connection, however loose, between you and your prospect. Establish some connection, any connection, and your request for a meeting will usually be answered affirmatively.

… and Getting Yourself a “Yes”

switchboardYou pick up the phone — to call a prospective client with whom you’ve wanted to meet for a while. Today feels like the day. You make the call, get them on the line, and ask if you can come by their office for a meeting.

They say, “No thanks.”

Once a prospective client has said “no” to your request for a meeting, it’s even more difficult to get a “yes” later. You’ve already been disqualified. Getting a “no” switched to a “yes” is like getting someone to add an item to their to-do list that they’ve already crossed off. They disqualified you. From their perspective, that was progress. Getting an initial “no” is a situation to be avoided.

How might you increase the odds of a “yes” when you make that call?

Getting a “yes” rather than a “no” to a meeting request usually requires just one thing: a connection, however loose, between you and your prospect. Establish some connection, any connection, and your request for a meeting will usually be answered affirmatively.

What do we mean by connection? Here’s a list of reasons people are more likely to say yes to your request for a meeting. (Lists are useful to spark creative thinking.) When you read the list, let your brain make a creative connection — in this case a connection to a connection you may have to your client. (These are loosely ordered, starting with the strongest connections first.)

  1. Someone your client knows referred you, especially if they sent an email saying so first. (This is gold.)
  2. You share a professional network. Someone in your company knows someone in theirs.
  3. You work with a well-known individual (or company or entity). For example if your clients are scientists, and the National Science Foundation is a client of yours, this is often enough of a connection to get a yes.
  4. You are connected to people who might be useful to them, service providers, researchers.
  5. You know people in common outside of work, through a club, a sport a hobby, or simple geography.
Your Company
  1. You can execute demonstrably faster or better than your competitors, and this might matter to your prospect.
  2. You have new capabilities of which your prospective client is unaware, which they might be able to profit from.
Your Business Knowledge
  1. You offer interesting insights into your client’s business.
  2. You have intelligence relevant to an initiative your client is undertaking.
  3. You work with companies in their supply or delivery chain, (and sometimes even a company who is a competitor.)
  4. You have specific experience in a niche they occupy.
  5. You can point to specific tricky problems that you solved with your creative and innovative capacity.
  1. You are going to be in their neighborhood or city.

Find a connection. Once you have a connection, we’ll tell you in the next post, how to employ that connection to get a yes to your request.

Disqualifying You

disqualifiedBusiness people are busy. When you sit in front of a new prospective customer or client for the first time, you should have a set of potential outcomes that move the process and the relationship forward. One thing you’d like to be able to judge is the success of your meeting. To paraphrase Rob Fitz, author of The Mom Test, a meeting that “went well” is probably a failure. You can be sure your client has a potential outcome that will keep the meeting from being a failure from their perspective: disqualifying you.

Disqualifying you as someone they will ever talk to again is a useful outcome. From now on, they won’t waste any time fielding your calls or answering your emails.

(By the way, for you, disqualifying them as a potential client is also useful: in order to disqualify them, you have to learn something.)

If you disqualify each other for appropriate reasons, it may not be the outcome you wanted, but it’s progress. But if you get disqualified because you didn’t prepare, asked the wrong questions, or didn’t listen, you just used up your get-out-of-jail-free card, that one first meeting when people are willing to meet with you without knowing if you are useful.

The first face-to-face meeting is the most important moment in the sales process. It’s useful to behave like it is. Don’t waste that chance. Enter that first meeting with a plan.