Telesales Training

Scripted or Unscripted?

When you were taking telesales training did you ever wonder what part does the unconscious mind play in telesales?

I mean, why do some prospects hang up and some don’t?

Is there some fancy persuasion technique that makes the difference ? Something that can be taught in a telesales training in an afternoon.

Plainly, the advantage in telesales belongs to the caller who can establish rapport and lead the prospect or customer. Yet, any telemarketer can tell you how hard it is to gain and maintain rapport on the phone.

In a face-to-face sales call you often have several minutes to establish rapport. In telesales, you have only a few seconds to establish enough sales rapport to keep the person on the line. Telesales training has to take this into account. 

I would argue that there are only two things that keep your prospect on the line:
What you say
How you say it.

That seems pretty obvious given that your prospect can only hear you.

Which is the most important? The what or the how?

Well, some telesales training courses propose that you simply have to have a well-designed Sales Script ( what you say ) and you cannot be successful at telesales without one. Interesting. I’ve been in sales for over twenty years and during that time I have sold a lot of items over the phone, ( although not as a telemarketer ), and I have never used a written script.

My approach has always been to:
Introduce myself and then my company,
Mention anyone who referred me to them
Suggest I may have something of interest for the prospect
Ask for some of their time to ask a few questions to determine if what I can offer is something of use for them
I was always curious about what they did
concentrated on establishing unconscious sales rapport.

I'm sure any telesales training would state that the initial objective when you call someone in a sales situation is to get him or her to stay on the line and talk to you. Only then can you tell if they have any use for what you can offer and move them in a direction towards making a purchase.

You will encounter all types of people over the phone so you need to be flexible in your approach and adapt to each unique person at the other end of the line. ( This is why I never liked using a script. ) A good telesales training should teach this flexibility.

So, to succeed at telesales, you need to be someone with a certain amount of flexibility. A well-written script should allow you to be that flexible. However, a good script must be one that helps personalize the interaction and create rapport while leading the prospect in the desired direction.

By the way, the second requirement to succeed at telesales is to keep dialling despite the many rejections you encounter. This is what we used to call “thick skinned”. A good telesales training will teach you how to acquire that attitude.

Resilience is a word that describes the characteristic better. You really need an attitude of “the harder I work, the luckier I get.”

I said earlier that you only have a few seconds at the start of a call to establish a connection. How can you do that?

Well, you have to pay very close attention to the first words your prospect utters. If they speak quickly with a low tone, you have to match that speed and tone. That starts the process of developing rapport, because we tend to like people who are like us and the only thing that someone can quickly notice about you over the phone is your voice.

This act of matching their tone and tempo is called Vocal Pacing and it requires rehearsal.

Practice as many different tones and speeds as you can. Read a script or pretend you are having a discussion with someone. See how many different "voices" you can create. Consider this part of your telesales training. In a real telephone sales application, however, use only those voices with which you feel comfortable.

Be warned: if you do not practice, all voices different from yours will feel uncomfortable. Practice, and then decide if there are some tones or speeds that make you uncomfortable.

This is an example of unconscious sales rapport techniques which should be a part of your telesales training. 

OK. You’re off to a good start. From that point I followed on as per my general approach mentioned above. But remember your first sentence has to be good or you could lose the prospect. This is where a script can make it easier for you.

A sentence like, “ Hello My name is Fred Smith, and I am calling on behalf of XXXX. How are you doing this evening ?” is not going to work.

A sentence like, "Hello. I’m Fred Smith, and Fleet Lease Services has asked me to talk to you to help you see how, you can save money on your auto bills. I only need to talk with you about 3 minutes for you to decide if we can save you money. Is this a good time to talk to me?

Why is this a better opening script ?

( By the way, in one campaign, sales increased 30% after telesales training introduced an opening script similar to this one! )

Firstly, it has established a clear objective. The person receiving the call knows what the call is about.

Another aspect of this opening is the differentiation of the caller (Fred Smith ) and the company (Fleet Lease Services). People are less likely, to be rude to a person than to a company. While it probably seems like a small detail, the message " The company has asked me to talk to you" invites a relationship between two people.

( NOTE: As the presentation advances, the distinction between the person and the company needs to be eliminated. Eventually, "Fred Smith" disappears and the script begins to refer to "We" and Fleet Lease Services, but the invitation stage requires a person-to-person exchange. This relationship is also encouraged by the final question, "is this a good time to talk to me?" )

Thirdly, this opening referenced all three senses: visual, auditory and kinesthetic or feelings, using words like “talk, see, save”

The use of words from the three main senses ensures two things. First, you know you have matched the preferred language of the prospect, since you have used all three language options. Second, you have also increased the chances of arousing their interest by, appealing to and, stimulating all three senses. You have begun to establish rapport and you have begun to stimulate subliminal interest.

Finally, there is a less obvious ploy that is used in our opening script. Namely, the use of embedded commands.

If you look again at the preferred script you’ll see that several words areBolded.

Those words are “talk, talk and talk to me” The idea is that you speak those words a little differently. Maybe in a lower tone, a bit louder and a little slower. These words are then picked up by the prospect’s unconscious mind.

By repeating "talk" in this way, you greatly increase the chances of the prospect saying “Yes” to “...Is this a good time ... ?” ( The delivery of these embedded commands is critical and will be dealt with elsewhere.)

After the prospect has given you an invitation to continue, “Yes”, or “Go ahead” or “I guess I have some time now”, you need to continue with the sensory language mix and set up an embedded command to tell your prospect what to do next.

Note, the embedded command needs to be appropriate for the next step of the sale. It’s pointless setting up an embedded command to buy if the prospect doesn’t even know what the product is yet.

For example let’s say you want the prospect to “sign up” with Fleet Lease Services. Then you’d say things like.

'When people sign up with Fleet Lease Services, they, see...

'Before you might decide to sign up with Fleet Lease Services, let me tell you what others have said... '

`Have you seen our sign up with Fleet Lease Services ads on the television? ... remember when... '

`Once you sign up with Fleet Lease Services, you, you will start getting

You will want to include the phrase “sign up” as often as possible in your ongoing dialogue to reinforce the message.

Once you have advanced past the opening of your script, you will have an opportunity for dialogue with the prospect.

You will hear how the prospect speaks and be able to match their language preference ( most people have a preferred sensory language, i.e. they speak using mostly visual words or mostly feeling words or mostly auditory words ) and refine your matching of tone and speed. Such mirroring of vocal characteristics increases Rapport.

You can also pace words and phrases. Repeat a phrase or word the prospect has used. It indicates you are listening and also helps you mirror that person. This is especially helpful with objections. 

“I feel uncomfortable about that scenario.”
“ Well, Joe, I don't want something to make you uncomfortable. How would you feel about us doing …....”

“I don’t see any value in this”
“Let's look at two advantages for a moment and see what value they may offer you.”

"I haven’t heard anything any different from you...
"Not hearing anything different, well perhaps I can hit the right note by…. 

A final tip.

Scripts tend to sound alike. They substitute new names but basically they follow the same singsong. The length of the phrases is similar and familiar to both the caller and the prospect:

Typically, each of these opening lines ends with a pause. The familiar words and phrases of the script, followed by a pause, create a pattern. People learn to anticipate what follows next in the pattern. In most cases, it’s a signal to hang up the phone.

Most communication depends on patterns. It helps make communication more efficient. We anticipate and react. You hold out your hand, I take it and shake it. You say, “You know what?” and I say, " What?" No one thinks about the response. We just do it: " How, are you today?” “ Fine, how are you?”

Unfortunately, patterns do not create rapport or build relationships. They are simply rituals. They take place without anyone being involved or even attentive.

If you interrupt a pattern, however, behaviours change drastically.

People become alert, confused, and in need of closure.

Remember one of the pranks you used to play at school? 
You’d offer your hand to someone as though you wanted to shake hands then allow your hand to continue up and scratch the side of your head or brush your hair.
Leaving them standing there with their hand dangling in the air. What happened next?

OK, your friends all laughed at the response of the person on the end of the joke.
But what was that person’s response?

Often they would just stand there even longer totally motionless and expressionless. Ahhh! That’s what can happen when you interrupt a pattern.

You can use that interruption behaviour to keep someone on the other end of the phone.

How ?

Breathing at the end of sentence is a familiar pattern. 
Adding breaths in the middle of sentences breaks a familiar pattern. 
By interrupting the normal pattern, the prospect is temporarily confused and open to suggestion.

Consequently, when the final question is asked ("Is this a good time..."), the unconscious need for closure or resolution will lead to an inclination to say " Yes."

This change to the normal breathing pattern is sometimes called Controlled Verbal Phrasing.

It is not easy to do because it goes against what feels "natural". 
It must be taught and practiced. 
So, I can’t go much further with it here.

It would require much more telesales training than can be done here.

However, a very easy pattern interrupt you can use in your introduction is to simply pause after you give your name.

I trust you find this telesales training useful in your sales career.