The most common question I was asked when I was working as a professional actor was this: “How do you memorize all of those lines?” But the tougher question is really, “How do you take a script and make other people’s words sound like your own…performance after performance?”
Making a script sound authentic is a challenge for both actors and for salespeople, but at least actors have the advantage of learning techniques for taking the words “off the page” and bringing them to life. Sellers, on the other hand, are often given a sales script instructed to memorize it and hit the phones or the streets running. No wonder many salespeople feel as uncomfortable as if they’ve been asked to recite Shakespeare for the first time. In fact, many sellers dislike working with sales scripts so much they end up chucking them entirely. While improvising works for some, for others their delivery can be vague and wildly inconsistent. What to do?
I’m going to share some techniques from the actors toolbox that will help you learn and deliver a sales script in a way that will make you feel and sound much more authentic and showcase your own unique personality. Ready?
4 Acting Tips for Delivering a Sales Script:
1. Don’t jump to memorization. The first thing most sellers do when presented with a script is jump straight to memorization. Improper and immediate memorization is one of the primary reason sellers end up sounding canned and insincere. A professional actor will read through a script several times before attempting to memorize it, allowing thoughts, ideas and questions to develop naturally as he familiarizes himself with the content. Get the big picture of the script first and let memorization be a natural byproduct of that familiarity.
2. Do know your subtext. While you’re getting familiar with your script, focus on the meaning of each line. What’s behind the words you’re using? In other words, what are you really saying and why? This if oten called “your intention” in acting, and intentions can be quite powerful in sales. (Read more about the power of intentions here.) Are you trying to get them excited about this feature? Motivate them to change vendors? Surprise them with industry findings? Just make sure you know what you are saying and why. (And p.s., the answer is not “because it’s in the script.”)
3. Don’t pre-determine how to say it. I know there are some sales coaches or consultants out there who will tell you precisely what words to emphasize, where to pause or smile or gesture. I beg of you, don’t do it!! This advice produces some simply awful amateur acting and reinforces a mechanical delivery that is tough to break. If you watched a great actor do the same scene night after night, chances are she would not deliver her lines exactly the same way every time. Each night is different because each audience is different. Same goes for sales. Stay closely connected to the intention of what you’re saying, respond to verbal and nonverbal cues from your prospect and let each new emotion in the moment express itself in your words. That will keep your delivery fresh and exciting.
4. Do rehearse properly. It’s a common misconception that over-rehearsing a script will cause you to sound phony or canned, when precisely the opposite is true. (read more about common presentation myths that may be hurting your success!) Knowing your lines well enough so that you don’t have to struggle for the words or meaning frees you up to place your energy on delivering your message in an impactful and persuasive manner while adjusting to your audience.
When it’s done right, a sales script should sound and feel natural and fresh each time. If you want to effectively engage and move your prospects to take action, don’t leave it to chance. You can bring even the dullest of business scripts to life by applying these acting tips when you get a sales script.
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