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Using Conversational Roadmaps

5 min readApril 14, 2021

“I’m sorry.” As a child, were you ever told to tell someone that? My guess is that you were. Do you remember how it felt? You probably didn’t mean it, so it didn’t feel genuine. See, telling someone exactly what to say never really works the way we’d like. It comes off as stale, and it feels constraining for the person delivering it.

“Like it or not, we’re all in sales now…” – Daniel Pink

In today’s world, we’re all selling something to someone. But if that’s the case, then what is sales? I’m not sure who was the first to say this, but I heard it from John Barrows that “Sales is the transfer of enthusiasm.” And that’s one of the critical reasons why sales scripts don’t work. Just like when you were told to apologize as a child, scripts don’t sound genuine and always land flat. This type of stale and stagnant delivery doesn’t transfer any enthusiasm.

Have you ever met a rep that follows their sales script to the tee? My guess is probably not, and if you have, they probably weren’t very good at their job.

Why would I say that?

Because there’s something irreplaceable that gets lost when you’re rigidly following a script. Authenticity. Don’t believe me? Some of the most iconic movie lines weren’t scripted, they were ad-libbed (you can read more about some of these here).

All reps need a suggested talk track, however, it’s essential that we have options within these talk tracks so that reps can make it their own.

Pro tip: to create engagement and drive creativity, give your team a framework and have an internal competition for the best conversational roadmap.

What’s a conversational roadmap? Glad you asked.

When you’re having a sales conversation, think less of a railroad and more of bumper rails (shoutout to all my friends that suck at bowling and have no shame in using the bumper rails!). That’s how we should think of talk tracks. And to that end, welcome to your introduction to “Conversational Roadmapping.”

Here’s what my conversation roadmap looks like:

Breaking these individual elements down:

Strong Opener – Establishes the tone for the whole conversation and gets their attention (the first step is getting their attention, and the second is keeping it).

Disarming Statement – Acknowledges that they weren’t expecting your call and shows empathy.

Permission to Continue – Further validates you have empathy and aren’t a tone-deaf robot. It also gets your prospect to talk and re-engage in the conversation. (Pro tip, don’t be afraid of silence after your ask, wait for them to respond. This makes sure that you have their attention and that they’re still engaged in the conversation.)

Value Proposition – What’s the purpose of your call?

Qualifying – Making sure the highest level critical criteria are met so that no one’s time is wasted.

Closing – This is why you picked up your moneymaker #phone. Booking a meeting? Closing a sale? #makeithappen

One of the most important elements to remember in your conversational roadmap is to keep the goal or desired outcome in mind. That’s your closing. If you have to qualify, you should do it between your Value Proposition and Closing. This is important because to qualify we will ask questions but we first want to pique their interest by creating value, so that they will be more willing to answer questions (#reciprocity).

It’s not uncommon when you go for the “close” that your customer will ask you a clarifying question or ask for more information. This is really great. It means that you’ve piqued curiosity, they aren’t saying “Yes,” but they’re also not saying “No.” This is a critical moment in the call because you can easily offer up too much information or the wrong information. Remember that if they weren’t expecting your call, then it’s very likely that they’re multitasking and you don’t have their full attention. Before spitting out information about your product or service, ask a clarifying question. This will do a couple of things:

  • It will get them focused on the conversation at hand. 
  • It will better align you to speak about what matters to them.

So when they ask a question after you’ve gone for Closing, you will ask a clarifying question, that ideally is open-ended. I always suggest that you have questions ready that have bread crumbs leading back to your Value Proposition, and once the customer answers, you can take three steps back in the roadmap to Value Proposition and you go: Value Proposition > Qualify > Closing.

This formula should keep repeating itself if you stay focused on where you are on your roadmap. Eventually, it will become second nature, and you won’t need to think about what step in the process you’re at.

The basics of a conversational roadmap is that you keep looping around until you get that “yes” or “no.” One important thing to remember for conversations that keep looping is to reframe your Closing. Don’t keep asking for the same thing, in the same way — that would be annoying. 😉

Conversational roadmaps are a powerful tool that can help free you from stale scripts and give your reps the creative spark to close more deals, so I hope you’ll give them a try. They’ve certainly helped me! And if you’d like more information about how to build and use your own conversational roadmap, you can check out the downloadable worksheet that I’ve created for you. Good luck, and happy hunting!

P.S. Want a way to implement conversational roadmaps at scale, for your whole revenue team? YODA AI, the ringDNA AI-powered conversation guidance solution, can do just that. Find out more here.

Conversational Roadmap Worksheet

About the Author

David BakerEnterprise Account ExecutiveringDNA

ringDNA is a revenue acceleration platform that leverages AI to transform sales teams into high-performing revenue engines. David is an Enterprise Account Executive, helping business leaders looking to cure inconsistent sales results. He believes that in sales, efficiency and productivity are easy. Cracking the code on what's effective is the next step.