NLP for Inside Sales
(The Unfair Telemarketing Advantage: Sell with NLP!)
An 18% increase in sales was seen in the first hour! And all we did was change one line that the callers were saying! That is the power of a well-delivered NLP telemarketing script.
Yet, scripts and script-delivery are usually the last factors managers consider when companies develop telemarketing campaigns. Millions of dollars are spent on sophisticated telemarketing databases, automatic dialers, call centers, marketing strategies and product offerings. Then--and only then--does someone remember the script. Typically a project manager is given the responsibility to design the script and get it to the call center with only a few days notice. Therefore it should be no surprise that most telemarketing scripts sound alike: "Hello. My name is Sue Smith and I am calling on behalf of Global Dinner Interruptions."
It should also be no surprise that with planning and training, sales campaigns using telemarketing scripts engineered for psychological impact produce as much as 70% increases over non-engineered telemarketing scripts.
Lakin Associates' Message Engineering incorporates the science and art of NLP (neurolinguistic programming) to strengthen the power of the message in telemarketing scripts. Using concepts such as embedded messages, vocal mirroring, and predicate mixing, engineered telemarketing scripts enable a message to be delivered with more impact and better productivity than traditional telemarketing scripts.
In a carefully controlled experiment for an international telemarketing firm, the sales of long distance services increased 16% when an engineered telemarketing script was introduced. Further increases were recorded when the telemarketers were trained in related NLP skills to improve their delivery of the script and their responsiveness to customers.
Later, a cellular phone sales campaign was floundering. It was using a traditional telemarketing script. Sales had dropped to less than one per hour per caller. A change in the opening statement immediately increased sales by 30%.
Other campaigns by the same firm found the engineered telemarketing scripts produced as much as 35% better results than previous campaigns with traditional telemarketing scripts. In addition, the call center manager reported "The monitoring reports we've gotten back from the client are much, much better and also I think that the callers felt that they had more tools in their pocket to work with the customer."
An engineered telemarketing script does not sound fancy or creative. In fact, an engineered telemarketing script is apt to be short and direct. Its power is subtle and often subliminal. For instance, instead of the "I'm calling on behalf of..." format, an engineered telemarketing script would begin by emphasizing the embedded command "...talk..." to encourage the customer to talk and allow the caller to continue with the presentation. An engineered opening might sound like this: "Global Interruptions has asked me to talk to you about a new program. If we can talk a moment, I think you will see you have interest. Is this a good time to talk to me?" When read, there is a tendency to think that such a change sounds too direct or too stiff. In practice, such a simple change generated the 30% sales increas mentioned above.
An engineered telemarketing script can also solve problems that occur later in a presentation. For instance, a campaign to sell cellular phones was finding that prospects were hanging up when they tried to qualify the prospect. Callers were trying to get prospects to estimate their likely level of cellular phone usage. Such information was important for determining which package to offer. However, prospects could not or would not answer the questions. The engineered telemarketing script simply added a transition question using the NLP concept of predicate mixes: "If you had an XYZ phone, how do you see yourself deciding to use it...when would you most likely talk to someone?" The mixed use of Visual ("see"), Auditory ("talk"), and Kinesthetic ("use") predicates increased the likelihood that someone would relate to the question and respond. The transition phrase solved the hangup problem!
Sometimes callers get frustrated by answering machines. A good engineered script can make voice-mail or answering machines powerful selling tools. Since the prospect will probably listen to the message, if it is well-written, it can be at least as effective as a live interaction! A high-quality furniture manufacturer incorporated engineered messages into its telemarketing strategy. Shortly thereafter, they reported three results. First, they saw an immediate increase in responsiveness to their calls. (Sales could not be measured since they often were seeking bidding information and contract renewal data.) Second, when the messages were left on voice-mail, a marked increase in voluntary callbacks occurred. Third, when they called a second time, they were astonished by the number of people who responded "Oh, yes, I remember your message on the phone."
Engineered scripts offer a powerful advantage to telemarketers. Yet they are not widely used. Because they are psychologically and linguistically different yet structurally similar to typical telemarketing scripts, people often resist using them initially. Recently, a senior marketing manager rejected an engineered telemarketing script, because he was expecting something dramatically different from the traditional telemarketing script. Not atypically, his untrained eye looked at an engineered telemarketing script and failed to appreciate the power it represented.
Yet, the results speak for themselves. The best endorsement may be the telemarketer who was on incentive and trying to sell cellular phones. She was frustrated by the slow sales mentioned above. When the altered script was given her, she recognized the form from her earlier Message Engineering training. Her colleague complained that the new script was too different and she wanted the "on-behalf-of" format that she knew. The experienced caller stuck her head over the divider and said "Just shut up and try it. It works."
Being different is the reason for the initial discomfort with an engineered telemarketing script. That difference is also the very reason psychological engineering is needed in telemarketing script design. Telemarketers and potential customers are accustomed to a standard set of words and a standard rhythm to a script. The telemarketers can recite the script without thinking. (We once watched a caller go through a script with a pencil in her mouth, completely unaware of the pencil because she was so psychologically detached from what she was saying or who she was saying it to.) The polite potential customers hear the familiar words and wait for the familiar pause to hang up. An engineered telemarketing script does not match the familiar pattern. Message engineering, in fact, provides breathing marks in script openings to prevent breathing in expected places. This is one way to keep a person on line and, thereby, increase the chances of getting the whole message delivered. An engineered script must be judged by looking at the results it gets rather than a marketing manager not liking the way it sounds or the telemarketer being "uncomfortable" with it. Write a good script and train people to deliver it, and no one will complain when the results are tallied.
Training in script delivery also strengthens the callers' skills in responding to non-scripted interactions. Callers learn to listen as well as read the script. Often, a campaign may have several "mini-scripts", and the caller chooses the telemarketing script based on the prospects use of words (visual, auditory, or kinesthetic). In addition, callers learn to adjust their vocal tone and speed to match the prospects. Once the prospect responds to the opening ("talk"), the caller is able to hear the prospect and adapt the presentation to match the person on the other end of the phone. Increased rapport leads to increased responsiveness to the message.
In the world of telemarketing, technology is often king. But technology is only the infrastructure for the delivery of the message. If the message or the delivery are not well-engineered, the technology is wasted. When the telemarketing script and caller training are given careful attention, the results are easily seen. NLP and other psychological models can provide the basis for a well-designed telemarketing script and training program.
Enjoy the power of an engineered message!
To learn how to get The Unfair Telemarketing Advantage, http://www.sellwithnlp.com
Last modified: September 2014
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