Article Date: 10/1/2012

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At Times, You Have to Go Off Script

It's what happens when you listen and react that often counts most.

Jim Thomas

My impression is that sales representatives who work for electronics retailers memorize scripts for almost all customer communications. (The monotone voice gives it away.) Often, this method is hit or miss in terms of effectiveness. For example, I recently visited one such retailer with the intention of buying an e-reader. The sales rep immediately went into his presentation:

“We have the widest selection of e-readers in the area,” he said. “I'm sure we can find the right one for you. Let me ask, how do you plan to use it? Do you plan to use it for reading books only, or will you play games, download apps, watch movies and TV shows, access the Web or check e-mail?”

My answer would certainly lead us to the right device:

“I have a widescreen laptop for the Web, videos, e-mail and all that. And because it contains all my work files, I won't be getting rid of it soon. So the e-reader is for reading books only.”

Staying on script

Undeterred by my answer, the sales rep continued his script. “Here are the latest readers,” he said. “I really like this one because it has a high-definition color screen, Dolby sound and a very fast web browser. It will even connect to the web without WiFi. If you're into watching videos or playing games, I really recommend this one.”

“What about this one?” I asked, pointing to the most basic and least expensive model.

“That's a basic reader,” he said. “It's best for reading books only. Let me show you some others…”

After 15 minutes of demonstrations, I chose the basic e-reader. The sales rep then asked about an extended warranty.

“No thanks, I never buy them,” I replied.

Without skipping a beat, he said, “We have several plans to choose from. I'll tell you all about them.”

In a busy organization, it's easy to understand how such exchanges can happen. And in defense of all the people on the “front lines” of selling, it's easier to recall a few scripted encounters that didn't go well.

Concealing the script

Why don't we remember all the good ones? My guess is it's because we may not even realize that effective presentations are often scripted. They come across like conversations. After the encounter, the customer or patient feels they have made a decision by tapping the expertise of the seller, as opposed to feeling pressured into a decision. Kudos to those practices that have mastered this skill. OM

Optometric Management, Volume: 47 , Issue: October 2012, page(s): 4