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September 16, 2010

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Sales Scripts: Would You Like Some Annoyance With That?

I’m a loyal Starbucks customer for a couple or reasons; the product, and the service.  More times than not; both are good.  However I’ve discovered a glitch.

Sales scripts are built to enable engagement through conversations, so they need to be embedded into a natural flow of give and take; not jettisoned through a plastic smile and corresponding tone. Like many of us uptight, type A’s, I have a routine.  My morning begins at Starbucks; Monday through Friday; between 7:20am and 7:30am, that’s where you’ll find me ordering the same thing every time: tall Pike and a Greek Yogurt with honey.

I walk in, stand in line, and watch as each customer orders their favorite drink and moves on. Process, and progress, it’s like printing money – I love it – everyday; everyday, except for Tuesdays that is. Tuesday is when Geoffrey, the way-too-happy barista works the register almost as aggressively as his up-sell-script.

My wife and kids will tell you that I am not a morning person and that to over-engage me prior to coffee can be an unpleasant experience. I think someone needs to tell Geoffrey this before he learns it firsthand. Regardless, I have been going to the same Starbucks, ordering the same thing for years. I know this, and I know that Geoffrey knows this. 

Yet, on Tuesdays, when I step up to the counter, I don’t get the same smile and instant service from him as I do with all of the other servers on any other day of the week.  Instead, I get the “up sell” – every #($&**! Tuesday for the last year:

Geoffrey:  Welcome to Starbucks can I interest you in one of our Pumpkin Spice Latte samples?

Me: That’s ok.

Geoffrey: Ok, can I get a drink started for you?

Me: Sure, I’d like one tall Pike, please.

Geoffrey: Wonderful, and can I interest you in some of our instant Via to take with you to the office?

Me: No, but thanks.

Geoffrey:  How about one of our lovely pastries, bagels, or muffins from our baked good case?

Me:  No thanks.

Geoffrey: We also offer warm breakfast sandwiches?

Me:  Had breakfast already.

Geoffrey: If you would like a pound of freshly ground, your coffee is free?

Me: That’s OK.

Geoffrey: Anything else?

Me:  The Yogurt.

Geoffrey: That will be $4.85, would you like your receipt?

Me: No.

Geoffrey:  I can stamp it and you can return this afternoon for a free tall coffee?

Me: I’m good.

Geoffrey:  You sure?

Me: I’m sure.

Geoffrey: Thanks for coming in.

Now I know Geoffrey is only trying to do his job, but he sucks at sales. Sales scripts are built to enable engagement through conversations, so they need to be embedded into a natural flow of give and take; not jettisoned through a plastic smile and corresponding tone.

Maybe some people ARE that happy in the morning, but not me; which is one reason why I have never, nor ever will buy anything from Geoffrey –  he doesn’t care about me, the conversation is not genuine; and it is abundantly evident that he is more concerned with completing his sales script for corporate, than building rapport with the client – sound familiar? 

So next time you are working with your Inside Sales team, remember my weekly encounter with Geoffrey;  and make sure to stress genuine conversation and rapport as the priority.  Sure you may not get through all of the questions you would like, but at least you will leave the prospect open and agreeable to taking your follow up call; even if it comes early on Tuesday morning, before coffee.

-- Tom Scontras, VP Sales and Marketing, Glance Networks

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Its a nightmare when this happens, especially in a morning. I would have lost my temper with him. Its remarkale how you haven't lost your temper with him after a year. I would have after a month. lol

I found an article relating to the use of sales scripts at http://truetobusiness.com/SalesAndMarketing/SalesScripts

It says that a sales script would best be used as a framework that is flexible. I am inclined to agree with it. Not every customer is the same and you need to know when to upsell and when not to. Frequent mistakes like that can lose a business customers.