This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Way of the Wolf" by Jordan Belfort. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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Want to know how to write a sales script? How important is a script in closing a deal?
In his book about Straight Line selling, Jordan Belfort explains that a good salesman must have a script or he risks being unprepared and ruining his chance at a sale. An effective sales script (along with proper sales body language and tone) increases your chance of closing exponentiallly.
Continue reading to learn how to build your sales script.
Always Use a Script
If you don’t know how to write a sales script, then you risk sounding unprepared or saying the wrong thing and ruining any chance of a sale; use a script to avoid such mistakes. Belfort argues that a good, well-practiced script can make a rookie salesperson sound like an expert, but that even the most experienced salespeople, himself included, should always use a script. When combined with the right tone and body language, a Straight Line script functions as a template for a perfect sale.
Despite the benefits, salespeople may be reluctant to use a script because they think they’ll sound unauthentic, like a bad telemarketer. However, Belfort notes that scripts, when well-written and delivered, can be memorable and convincing, as everyone knows who has seen a great movie or Netflix drama. Further, when it comes to selling, he says even an average script can greatly increase your closing rate—and you’ll continue to improve with practice.
Elements of an Effective Script
Belfort offers a set of principles that he claims make Straight Line scripts superior to all others:
1) Don’t overload the script: Don’t try to cram most of your product’s benefits into the early part of the script, or you’ll overwhelm the prospect and make her tune out. Hold some benefits in reserve for when the prospect raises objections.
2) Focus on the product’s benefits rather than its features: Features are generally characteristics or capabilities of a product, while benefits are ways the product will improve the user’s life. Prospects want to know the benefits, although salespeople often focus on the features. (Shortform note: A downside, according to the authors of The Challenger Sale and SPIN Selling, is that emphasizing features increases the customer’s price sensitivity, meaning that it encourages price objections.)
|How to Come up With Product Benefits|
To come up with benefits, some marketing experts recommend that you consider your product’s features and ask “so what?” about each one until you arrive at the true benefit—for example: This washing machine handles bigger loads (feature). So what? You’ll get your laundry done faster. So what? You’ll have more time to de-stress or do things you enjoy (benefit). Value selling is a similar idea: You sell from the perspective of what your product is worth to the customer. Focusing on value is also key in Challenger sales.
3) Build pauses into your script where you can engage the prospect in conversation—for example, after explaining a benefit, stop and ask, “Do you see what I’m saying?” Regular pauses keep the prospect’s attention and get them used to saying yes.
4) Make your script conversational: While you want to sound like an expert, also use contractions, conversational phrasing, and varied sentence lengths to create a natural flow and avoid sounding stilted or rehearsed.
5) Don’t exaggerate, omit, or lie: Make every statement 100% accurate and legal. Belfort acknowledges he was wrong to have written misleading scripts in the past. He notes that if you own a business and approve a script that’s unethical or dishonest, you’re giving your sales staff permission to engage in further unethical behavior.
6) Make clear that buying your product is easy: Prospects weigh the effort of buying something (it means change) against the benefits; the benefits must outweigh the effort required, or they won’t buy. That’s why Amazon’s one-click buying process is so successful. Yet many sellers make buying too much of an ordeal with many hoops to jump through. Your script should make clear that when a prospect says yes, she’ll get huge benefits for little effort because you’ll handle all the paperwork for her.
Belfort recommends writing out a series of scripts for different aspects of the Straight Line sales process—for example, the first four seconds and the opening, your prospecting questions and transition to a pitch, scripts for typical objections, looping scripts for the three certainties, and a closing.
|Additional Script-Writing Tips and Templates|
The marketing firm HubSpot offers this script development plan:
Identify the product or service determine your target audience
determine your benefits link the benefits to a customer pain point
ask questions about the pain points
Plan a close (a customer commitment you’ll get) for every sales interaction
HubSpot offers details on each step and sample scripts and templates for sales calls, emails, and voicemails. Some companies use sales script generator tools or apps.
Straight Line Script Roadmap
Every word you utter in the sales conversation should further your goals of qualifying the prospect, then increasing his certainty about your product, you, and your company. Belfort advises making the logical case first (to satisfy the prospect’s BS detector, which will be on immediate alert), then making the emotional case by future pacing.
Following are some guides for building scripts to accomplish this:
- First, introduce yourself and the product, and establish yourself as an expert, using tone and body language.
- Be enthusiastic.
- Speak informally, using the prospect’s first name to establish familiarity.
- Introduce yourself and the company, then repeat the company’s name within the next few sentences.
- Use superlatives such as “fastest,” “most respected,” “most popular,” and so on.
- Justify or explain why you’re calling (you have something they’ll likely be interested in).
- Seek permission to ask qualifying questions.
- Next, transition into the information gathering phase. Ask a few big picture questions, such as:
- “What do you like or dislike about your current situation or supplier?”
- “What’s your biggest frustration with similar services you’ve used in the past?” (When the prospect identifies a pain point, amplify it.)
- “What’s most important to you when considering a product of this nature?”
- Transition to the main part of the presentation. Follow this roadmap:
- Using the exact name of your product, succinctly explain how it will benefit the client or meet her needs.
- Pause and ask, “Does this all make sense?”
- Repeat the prior two bullet points once or twice more with different benefits, but don’t overwhelm the prospect.
- Create urgency—emphasize scarcity to motivate the prospect to buy now. Lower your voice and add intensity.
- Stress how easy the buying process will be and how quickly you can start it.
- Explicitly ask for the order, and finish with, “Does that sound good to you?”
(Shortform note: Belfort and other sales trainers note that many salespeople fail to close because they never directly ask for the order. They fear rejection or don’t want to pressure the client. Some experts recommend asking at least five times, starting when the prospect has identified a problem, and lastly when you’ve finished a presentation or demonstration. However, Belfort argues that three times is usually enough under the Straight Line system because when you’ve built unassailable certainty, you can ask for the order without applying pressure.)
Once you’ve written a script, practice it until it becomes second nature, continue to refine it, and always use it.
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Here's what you'll find in our full Way of the Wolf summary :
- How to sell like Jordan Belfort, the Wolf of Wall Street
- The 4 steps of the Straight Line selling method
- The 3 types of certainty you have to create to make a successful sale