Sometimes, inside sales people lean too heavily on their script. Check this out.

This morning, I got a call from an inside sales rep selling subscriptions to an executive level magazine. I can appreciate what they are trying to do and the challenges that they face. However, if you were pushing an executive level magazine and you’re targeting executives, I would think that your communication style would be a little more… executive-like.

So there I was, in the middle of a task when I got the call. Naturally I had momentum on my side and didn’t want to stop what I was doing. I look at the caller ID on my smartphone and the caller is registered as unknown. All callers that I’ve identified as important have names associated with them and their numbers are registered in my phone.

I’m sure this is something that we’ve all done as managers. It’s called effective time management. You manage and prioritize your interruptions.

However, this morning I was curious. So, I picked up the call, expecting it to be something that I could listen to with half of my attention.

What I got was an inside sales rep about to give me another example to use in my training.

Opening the Inside Sales Call by Adhering to the Script

She identified herself and asked to speak with Larry.

Now, she didn’t say, “Hello, Larry?” What she said was, “Hi my name is “Bobbie” and I’m with New Tech Magazine. May I speak with Larry?”

To put this in context, I always answer the phone with a “Hello, this is Larry…”

So when somebody responds, “Hello, Larry?” or, “Larry?” my perception is that  they’re on a smartphone. They’re confirming my name because they didn’t catch it.

However, these justifications don’t work when you start with a monologue and end with, “May I please speak with Larry” after I’ve just said my name. That says to me that they are paying less attention to you and more attention to their script.

If you you are an inside sales rep, don’t do this. Your script is a framework, not a crutch. Keep your ear on the conversation and structure you language strategically.

After her introduction, she tells me what she’s doing for New Tech Magazine. Then she says she needs to confirm some information.

Since I’m trying to finish my own stuff, I tell her, “I’m in a meeting right now.”

And that’s when she starts speeding through her checklist of the information she needs to collect.

Here’s a communication tip for you:

If someone says that they don’t have time right now or they are in a meeting, use the few seconds you have to get a commitment for a return call.

Don’t try to rush through the call to fill your call quota. It comes across as very amateurish.

Inside Sales Advice for Making Outbound Dials Today

From the material I’ve been reading on inside sales, and from my time in a call center, I’ve seen an interesting shift.

At one time, the mindset was not to let the prospect off the hook. They were simply trying to get rid of you. So you pressed forward. Back then, the telephone was the only tool available, the pace of life was slower and people’s attention spans were longer.

Today, business operates much faster. People’s attention spans are shorter and they have a million things to attend to. We also have a lot more avenues to communicate with our prospect including email, websites, and text. If your prospect is busy and you have something that is of value to them, get a commitment to call back. But to do that, you will need to have a healthy dose of self-confidence and some killer phone skills. You won’t win their attention by rigidly sticking to a phone script.

Bottom line, use your script as a framework to structure your call, not as a crutch to recite like a robot. Stay flexible and respond to your situation. That means if they say their name, then ask a different question. You don’t have to use, “…may I please speak with John Brown?”

If your contact says that they are in a meeting or they don’t have the time, don’t read your script faster. And definitely don’t say, “this will only take a moment.”

Instead, take what time you have left to set a mutually agreed date and time.

Ultimately, you want to position yourself as a professional salesperson who respects their time and is responsive to the conditions at hand.

Focus on communicating with your prospect, not on finishing your script. You’ll get your prospect’s attention.


For additional ideas on effective communication tactics on your sales call, download a copy of Maximum Impact, my latest collaboration with Paul Bagan on presentation and communication skills.

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