Some of my colleagues at a network event were arguing the merits or otherwise of a sales script. Those in favour maintained that working to a scripted formula enabled the seller to guide the conversation with the buyer to mutual advantage whilst those against thought working from a script made for a staged and insincere exchange between the two parties.
Certainly, my first reaction was to reject the use of a script; I felt that it wouldn't allow for a natural conversation to occur and might lead to the buyer being maniupulated in some way. But thinking about it some more as I listened to the debate, I decided that it might make sense for the seller to take the lead so long as the customer's interests were safeguarded.
In my own experience, it can be both helpful and fun to be taken in hand by a skilful salesperson and carefully guided towards making the right purchase. Think of the waiter who directs you through the details of the menu or the tailor who knows what just what questions to ask as he helps you choose what clothes to wear for the big event.
When you think about it, we have an odd mistrust of the scripted conversation. It's as though we only trust spontaeneity. Yet some of the most influential exchanges in the world have been carefully scripted and rehearsed for maximum effect. Barack Obama's 'Yes, We Can' was certainly staged, whilst Winston Churchill's painstaking preparation for his landmark speeches was legendary.
Like all the great performers and communicators, Lally used the script to both explore and express something deeper and more personal than words, and there's no good reason why a carefully made sales script can't do the same.
If we take it as read that the purpose of a brand is to help the buyer make the right choice, it stands to reason that we can draw on our experience to script our exchange with the customer in a way that guides us both towards an understanding of whether or not there's a match between what the buyer wants and what we offer for sale.
Of course, there are occasions where spontaneity is what's required, but the more I think about it, I'm all for sticking to the script.