There is constant conflict in Conversational Marketing™ between following a script and being natural and conversational. While following a script is important, as it ensures important pieces of the conversation are being touched on, sounding like you’re reading a script can ruin a call from the get-go. Depending on your call type and environment, there are several different ways to go about helping scripted Conversational Marketing™ Experts (CMEs) change into natural, comfortable ones.
Let’s begin by assuming there is a script that needs read to the contact – be it long or short. Once the CME is comfortable with the script, begin the training process by asking them to emphasize or deemphasize words. Give them a printed version of the script with emphasized words highlighted, pitch changes marked, etc. This will allow even the most process-following CME to read the script with a little more personalization. Ask them if each point should be read lightheartedly or seriously. Are there questions in the script that should be up-ended? Asking them to make the decisions about where emphasis and pitch changes go empowers the CMEs to begin thinking conversationally on their own.
Another thing to start near the beginning of conversational training is asking the CMEs how they would paraphrase the words in the script. Everyone speaks differently. It is much easier to reflect your natural, conversational speech style when you are speaking in a pattern you use on a regular basis. One of the easiest places to begin paraphrasing is in the trial close. In our own calls, rather than forcing each CME to ask the same question, (“We have both weekend and weekday appointments available, which works best for your schedule?”) we allow them to use the same format in their own words to make it more comfortable (“What’s usually better in your schedule, something during the week, or maybe the weekend?”).
Finally, the biggest and most complex piece of conversationalism should be saved for after the CMEs have grasped the idea of pitch and paraphrase. This is when you want to focus on the contact rather than the CME. Responding to a curveball of a question from a contact can be very difficult, especially for new CMEs, or those who are least skilled in conversationalism. Role-playing different scenarios is important to prepare your CMEs for making good, comfortable responses to each contact’s question or statement. A large part of this role-playing should focus on acknowledging the contact’s statement.
The biggest tell-tale sign of scripting is when you do not acknowledge what a contact says and just move forward in the call. Train your CMEs to always stop, address what was said fully, and only after the statement or question has been resolved move on to the next part of the call. This helps your CME and contact to build a relationship and shows the contact they are important.
Becoming conversational is a process, and often a complicated one. As long as you train step-by-step and are diligent, even the most rigid of CMEs can become a great conversationalist.
What else can you do to make sure that your calls are conversational?