NLP for Inside Sales
(The Unfair Telemarketing Advantage: Sell with NLP!)
INSIDE SALES & NLP
A White Paper by Duane Lakin, Ph.D.
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 engineered script.
Yet, scripts and script-delivery are usually the last thing managers consider when companies develop inside sales (telemarketing) campaigns. Millions of dollars are spent on sophisticated 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 or sales reps with only a few days’ notice. Therefore, it should not be surprising that most scripts sound alike:
It should also be of no surprise that with planning and training, sales campaigns using scripts engineered for psychological impact produce as much as 15-35% increases over non-engineered scripts.
Dr. Lakin’s scripts (based on skills seen in The Unfair Advantage: Sell with NLP!) incorporate the science and art of NLP (neurolinguistic programming) to strengthen the power of what the seller says in a sales call. Using concepts such as embedded commands, vocal mirroring, personal referencing, and predicate mixing as well as forward movement toward a process step, engineered scripts enable a message to be delivered with more impact and better productivity than traditional 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 sellers 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 what had been seen in 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."
Engineered scripts offer a powerful advantage to inside sales reps. Yet they are not widely used. Because they are psychologically and linguistically different from typical phone scripts, people often resist using them initially. Recently, a senior marketing manager rejected an engineered telemarketing script, because he was expecting something dramatically different with words like NOW or GREAT or FREE or other supposedly useful tricks some writers promote. 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 whose income was based on results, and she was trying to sell cellular phones. She was frustrated by the slow sales mentioned above. When the engineered script was given her, she recognized the form from her earlier “Sell-with-NLP!” 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."
An engineered sales script does not sound or look fancy or creative. In fact, an engineered 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 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 increase seen in the project mentioned above.
Being different is the reason for the initial discomfort with an engineered script. That difference is also the very reason psychological engineering is needed in script design. Inside sales reps and potential customers are accustomed to a standard set of words and a standard rhythm to a script. The seller 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 script does not match the familiar pattern. It looks different. Often an engineered script provides breathing marks in script openings to preventbreathing 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 sales rep being "uncomfortable" with it. Write a good script and train people to deliver it, and no one will complain when the results are tallied.
An engineered 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 sales 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 hang-up 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 inside sales 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."
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 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 inside sales, technology is often king. But technology is only the infrastructure for the delivery of the message. If the message or the way to say (deliver) the message is not well planned and trained, the technology is wasted. When the script and caller training are given careful attention, the results are easily seen. NLP can provide the basis for a well-designed inside sales script and training program.
Enjoy the power of an NLP-engineered message!
To learn how to get The Unfair Inside Sales Advantage, http://www.sellwithnlp.com
Last modified: April, 2015
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