Once I was challenged by a client who was concerned about how we were going to represent his innovative new process control technology without a script.
I explained that we tend to use a sales approach that we develop in conjunction with the client and not the usual line-by-line script so commonly used by other telemarketing companies. I showed the the type of preparation we undertake and the resulting “sales approach” documentation that results. His response: “You’ve undersold yourself here”. (To be fair, not words I often hear!).
As I was preparing another client’s new sales approach,I found myself explaining to them,”It’s not a word for word script like in a stage play,it’s more like a Mike Leigh film”
Leigh of course is an absolute master of his art; he is renowned for his brilliant use of improvisation to produce remarkably realistic,entirely compelling dramas, like “Abigail’s Party” and “Secrets and Lies”.
Leigh himself points out:“People say to me, “Oh come on, you could do a great thing with a script”. But I’ve always said no. Everyone will expect the quality and style of the acting to be as good as they are in my other films – and I wouldn’t know how to do it.
You will find hardly any improvising on camera anywhere in my films. It’s very structured, but it’s all worked out from elaborate improvisations over a long period, as you know.”
There is a lot of misunderstanding about the term and nature of “improvisation”, so whilst we happily tell clients we don’t use scripts, we don’t tell them what we do is also open to “improvisation”.
So, what do you need to make great sales calls?
The answer is skills and preparation, so:
what skills do you need?
“Improvisation” is not about being “off the cuff”,”playing it by ear” or”making it up as we go along”; it needs a level of skill and far more preparation than just reading from a script or Autocue. In the world of regular “telemarketing” Autocue style delivery is the norm because it’s easier. It’s not the norm to give “agents” or “operators” permission to listen, problem solve or react in the moment and in response to the stimulus of their immediate environment.
However these are exactly the skills you need to make a great sales call; listening is your most important skill because you prospect’s words will help you close the deal; you want problem solving skills because if you can solve your prospects’ problems your proposition will gain more value; you need to ask the right questions which will give you the information you need to close the sale; finally you need to be able to react to different environments and situations. This is exactly how we have been doing it here at Broadley Speaking since 1997; this is what we call “Intelligent Sales”.
And how do you prepare?
In all we do, preparation is key: we research the marketplace, the target prospects and decision-makers. We hold regular workshops with our clients, share information and communicate on a regular basis. We leave nothing to chance; everything is prepared, until we are 100% ready to bring success to our clients.
Just like Brenda Blethyn and Marianne Jean-Baptiste in “Secrets and Lies”, the makings of our great performance are based on years of experience, mastery of the art,understanding of the role,detailed preparation and practice and the confidence to deliver. This is how we deliver the most powerful and compelling sales performance and it’s why the world’s major b2b brands trust us to act as their sales advocates.