In many prospecting situations the script is the basis for the entire conversation between caller and prospect. The script can be a crutch that will trip you up with the savvy prospect. For this reason the discussion guide is the better choice. It will require a little more work on the part of the caller but it creates a more powerful presentation with plenty of flexibility for dealing with difficult objections. If you use a script and a customer takes you away from that script, you may lose confidence in your ability to answer questions or objections that don’t track with the script. When you use a discussion guide you are empowered to discuss the product or service freely without following a strict flow of information. Developing your own discussion guides allows you to format the information in the way that best works for you.
The first purpose of the discussion guide should be to provide information on the product or service. You need to have complete yet concise information on investment, benefits, competitors and any other information that will make you sound like the confident salesperson with the best product or service of its kind. You need to keep the information in front of you that allows you to discuss the product or service, not read a list of features.
The second purpose of the discussion guide is to remind you of your qualifiers. Have your qualification criteria clearly defined. Prioritize them. Which are the most important to you? Be prepared to talk to any level in the customer’s organizational structure. Remember, no call is wasted. You can collect information from a variety of resources that will help you later when you reach the decision-maker. You may want to outline different options for yourself in the discussion for different people in the organization. For example, what will I say to the receptionist, secretary, decision-maker, or voice mail? All of these could look very different and you need to be prepared with the appropriate information as soon as the phone starts ringing. Keep you qualifiers in front of you and run them early in the conversation. It helps you capture important information early in the conversation.