You’ve all heard them. You walk into a store to shop, and what’s the first thing you hear?
“Hi, welcome to Bla-Bla So-and-So’s! We’ve got an awesome deal on Debt-Increasing Junk today, you want some?”
Ok. So that’s a little more harsh sounding than just about anything anyone would ever say, but the effect is the same; you heard the words, but don’t give a crap because your default answer is:
“Just looking, thanks.”
It doesn’t matter that your default is as rude as it gets (not addressing the question asked, not acknowledging the person or their greeting, etc) – their approach was rude first, after all. Let me tell you what really just happened:
You won a prize: you’ve encountered a sales script in action!
Thousands of companies teach their grunts to use these because the numbers show they work. Where these numbers come from, I have no idea, but I can say for certain that any time in my career as a public-facing rep, drawing anything from a script has more often than not netted me nothing more than the “You’re a Meat Head” look, followed by a swift dismissal of whatever I just said.
The thing is, scripts are mnemonics at their best. Short, catchy phrases, intended to be memorable only in themselves with so little effort a fruit fly could pick them up. This is why they’re so over-used, it’s why people think they’re successful at selling stuff, like all mnemonics, they’re memorable.
I suck up a lot of these, as do my coworkers, at any given training session we attend. It’s the way of the world. The thing is, many of us are starting to find better uses for the mnemonics and training our second filters out of spouting them like those poor people in the Search Overload commercials. If you’re in sales, pay attention, because I’m going to share the number one secret that’s kept me successful.
Say it yourself, meathead!
Your own words will always be more powerful than any script you get handed – whether it’s a tidbit you pick up from a coworker, something from training, or words out of a commercial. First-hand connection is important to people. Tell your own stories; if you’ve got experience with something, say so. If you heard about something from a friend, say that instead – scripts are the same as passing off someone else’s story as your own. If you’ve got a friend who knows something, relate how that knowledge makes you feel; secure and hopeful about whatever it is you’re connecting with a client about, or wary and untrusting of a less than worthy experience.
Oh, and don’t namedrop!
For the same reasons that celebrity endorsements fail, telling someone that you’re using something, or that you’re recommending something because So-and-So has it is just as bad as the most poorly devised mechanical drivel out there. Most of the time the person you’re mentioning isn’t there, will never hear about what you said, and won’t care that you said it in their name. Name dropping removes you from the experience as thoroughly as scripts do.
Most of the time, scripts are easy to spot. But sometimes they’re not. Keep on the lookout for this behaviour; you’ll thank yourself for it.