I make my living creating and improving sales processes and creating sales playbooks, so it might seem strange that I’m making a case for NOT over-scripting sales calls for SDRs, AEs, and CSMs. The fact is, I’ve never been an advocate for scripting. Instead, I say, “Hire smart people and teach them the framework of each type of call and let them use their words and personalities to get the answers needed at each step in the sales process. With that said, I know I can’t put an SDR, who’s probably never made a B2B cold call, on the phone without a piece of paper in front of them. So, you must strike a balance.
Although every sales call is important, I believe the discovery call (DISCO) is the most important call, and it will be the focus of the list this article details. Discovery calls serve as the indispensable step in understanding prospects' needs, building trust, and having a meaningful connection. However, over-scripting these conversations can do more harm than good.
Here are the biggest drawbacks of over-scripting a discovery call:
1. Loss of Authenticity, Leading to Lack of Trust
One of the most significant downsides of over-scripting a discovery call is the potential loss of authenticity and rapport. When salespeople rigidly adhere to a script, it becomes challenging to create a genuine connection with the prospect. The conversation can feel rehearsed, impersonal, and devoid of individualized attention. Prospects are likely to perceive the lack of authenticity, leading to distrust and decreased engagement. Building rapport is required for establishing a foundation of trust, and over-scripting inhibits the organic flow necessary for genuine connections.
2. Limits Adaptability and Personalization
Everyone wants to feel like a special snowflake. Over-scripting restricts salespeople from adapting to each prospect's unique circumstances and needs. Every conversation requires flexibility to address specific pain points, preferences, and objections effectively. By being too reliant on a script, sales professionals risk missing opportunities to tailor their approach and explore deeper insights. Prospects may feel overlooked or undervalued when their individuality is not acknowledged. Adaptability and personalization are key components of successful sales discovery calls, enabling salespeople to align their solutions with the prospect's requirements.
3. Hinders Effective Objection Handling
Objections are an inevitable part of sales conversations, and skillful objection handling is crucial. However, over-scripting can leave salespeople ill-equipped to handle objections in a natural, persuasive manner. I teach that you handle objections by asking questions to seek to better understand. A rigid script may not give the sales rep enough flexibility to address common objections and navigate unique challenges. As a result, sales reps may stumble, sound scripted, or struggle to provide satisfactory responses. Prospects may perceive the rep as unprepared or dismissive, weakening the trust and confidence necessary for progressing in the sales process.
4. Misses Opportunities for Deeper Exploration
In-depth discovery is a cornerstone of successful sales calls, enabling sales reps to uncover the prospect's pain points, motivations, and aspirations. Over-scripting, however, can hinder the ability to delve deeper into the prospect's needs. By adhering strictly to a script, salespeople may overlook critical cues or fail to ask meaningful follow-up questions, or as I call them – question on a question. This limits their understanding of the prospect's unique challenges and expectations, hindering their ability to tailor solutions. Opportunities to uncover hidden pain points or unexpected buying triggers may be missed, impacting the effectiveness of the discovery call and thus the ability to find “fit”.
5. Decreases Engagement and Interest
Engaging prospects and maintaining their interest throughout the DISCO call is essential. However, over-scripting can lead to a one-sided conversation where the prospect feels disengaged. Reps who focus excessively on following a script may neglect active listening and fail to respond genuinely to the prospect's remarks. This lack of engagement can result in a monotonous and uninspiring conversation, reducing the prospect's enthusiasm and receptiveness to consider your product or service. By deviating from the rigid script and fostering genuine dialogue, salespeople can enhance engagement and make the call more captivating and valuable. And last, but not least…….
6. Your Reps Brains Will Atrophy and You’ll Never Get Rid of Them!
Joking, not Joking. The biggest downside of over-scripting is your reps will never be able to fish for themselves and as such you will be setting them up to earn less income than their “thinking” counterparts, they will have lower job satisfaction, and they will NEVER be able to leave the nest for the next step up in their career. It’s your job as the sales leader to teach your reps how to sell, not to ensure they know how to read. Give them a framework, tell them the why, and call coach the shit out of them until they understand how to have a conversation and not an interrogation.
While having a framework or key points to guide sales discovery calls is valuable, over-scripting does more harm than good. You need to find the balance between structure (which I’m ALL for) and flexibility, enabling your reps to create more meaningful, authentic, and successful discovery calls.