Possessing excellent product knowledge, is of course, essential to being successful in sales. However, having finely tuned sales skills will always come first. That’s why sales leaders are using role-playing as a sales training tool – because nothing is better for understanding your team’s strengths and weaknesses than role-playing. So, keep reading this article to check out how you can motivate your sales team using improvisation and active participation to gain critical insights and learn essential lessons.
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What is sales role-playing?
Sales role-playing is a vital tool used by sales leaders to develop and coach sales teams’ skill sets by closely replicating a real-life selling environment. So, therefore, it’s a game based on improvisation that allows you to coach sales reps through multiple scenarios. In particular, those that focus on objection handling or complex customer types.
What’s the importance of sales role-playing with your team?
Sales role-playing is beneficial for sales teams for several reasons outside of the obvious; to grow and align their sales skills and knowledge. In fact, by using hands-on training, you can better prepare your sales reps for customer interactions, particularly challenging ones. So check out the other reasons why you should be using role-playing as a sales training tool below:
- Helps sales reps perform under pressure
- Creates a sense of familiarity
- Provides a team-building experience
- Building empathy for your customers by having your staff perform as customers; and
- Learning conflict resolution
Sales role-play training exercise examples
With everything mentioned so far in mind, here are our recommended sales role-play training exercises and examples that you can use right away. Check them out below:
All good sales leaders know that if you want your potential customer to pay attention to what you say, you must be willing to listen to him first. That doesn’t mean just giving your prospect time to speak, but actively listening to what they have to say.
Therefore, the takeaway from this sales role-play is to underpin the importance of sales reps using active listening skills. In particular, how dialling back their presence and allowing the prospect to speak allows your sales team a unique insight into their prospects problem.
So how do you do it? Well, you can do it in a large group, or with as few as two people. However, if you choose a group format, ensure you either segment into smaller groups or play with the whole group in a telephone style.
- Ask your first sales rep to begin by making a statement; Preferably related to your company.
- The second person will then begin their statement using the last three words of the previous person’s statement.
- Continue this through your group.
The point? Sales teams learn to listen and focus on what people are saying rather than considering their response.
All sales professionals have to deal with objections, so you probably already know that there is an objection for absolutely everything. In particular, these common sales objections often fall into these six categories; price, timing, value, competitor relationships and hesitation.
Therefore, this role-playing exercise is excellent for practising a rapid-fire objection response. More so, it allows your sales team to support each other by listening to each other’s ideas and empathise with the same experience of being frustrated by objection handling.
So how does it work?
- Pick a sales rep and give them a common sales objection your team regularly receives.
- Allow your sales rep only 5 seconds to respond. However, it has to be in a way that the sales conversation progresses positively – or – they’re out of the game.
- If that sales rep successfully answers the objection, they then choose a sales rep and repeat.
All salespeople want is prospects to say yes, sign the dotted line and shake hands. However, not all realise that persuading a prospect to buy from you is an art form in itself. Most salespeople have trouble getting prospects to say yes in that pivotal moment of “are you ready to commit?”. Precisely why the sales role-play exercise below is essential for helping your sales rep understand the perspective of the prospect:
- Have a sales rep assume the position of the prospect.
- Provide the ideal role-play with perfect objection responses and conversational tactics.
- Next, ask the sales rep to provide feedback about what they thought worked well or not at all.
- Make a list of aspects that worked well and switch seats again.
- Using the list of winning tactics, help the rep develop their comfort level with them.
This last role-play exercise helps sales reps hone many skills all at once, in particular empathising with different prospects. Therefore, for this sales role-play exercise, you should make a list of your ideal target personas and ones that you typically encounter.
This last role-play exercise helps sales reps hone many skills all at once, in particular empathising with different prospects. Therefore, for this sales role-play exercise, you should make a list of your ideal target personas and ones that you typically encounter. Then, to add an exciting twist, you can personalise these target personas with personality traits, for example, “preoccupied”, “analytical”, “closed”, or “indirect”. Then write them on a small piece of paper and throw them into a hat.
- The sales rep playing the prospect will draw a piece of paper from the hat and adopt the qualities written on it.
- Next, sales reps will role-play, and you will provide feedback.
- After the persona has been fully exhausted – repeat the process.
Your 10-point sales role-play checklist
To ensure that you’re effectively using role-playing as a sales training tool sales role-play session, download and use our 10-point sales role-play checklist.
1. Consult experts
First and foremost, before you embark on embedding new behaviours into your sales reps – you should consult an expert. This is because sales-role plays can be highly intense and complex to prepare. For this reason, we recommend that you use a sales expert with skills and experience around both sales training and also facilitation. For instance, they can provide advice around the format and objections of the session. As well as offering follow up advice for ensuring the learning retention of the sales reps.
2. Provide a refresher
Remember, this is a training exercise and not a test of wills. For this reason, you should provide an initial refresher session that is related to the objective or goal. This gives your participants a chance to focus on the task ahead and prepare themselves.
3. Use examples from your current sales funnel
The most significant way to use role-play as a sales training tool is to base your scenarios on real-life opportunities in your sales funnel. Not only will this aid your sales team in retaining their learning, but they’ll directly apply what they’ve learnt right away.
4. Create a specific scenario
You need to ensure that you have a specific scenario. Otherwise, you risk trying to achieve too much and achieving very little. Similar to the way that athletes or sports people focus on particular training sets.
5. Fully brief the customer team
Before every sales role-plays, sales leaders should fully brief the designated customer team. This way, sales leaders can ensure that the sales role-play isn’t derailed by overly objective customers!
6. Record progress
Once the sales role-play has come to an end, you’ll use your participant’s progress to determine whether you successfully met your training objectives. Furthermore, it would help if you utilised the feedback from stakeholders to gauge if there are any missing weaknesses throughout the entire program.
7. Give sales reps actionable feedback
If you’re spending so much time and effort in using role-play as a sales training tool, you need to focus on providing valuable feedback to your sales team. More so, it would help if you did this in a relaxed, clear and concise manner so that they can fully understand how to develop and improve.
8. Make it fun
Believe it or not, sales training should be fun! In fact, by using gamification, learners score 15% higher in skill-based knowledge and 9% higher than using traditional methods. So as a sales leader, embrace it and use it to foster a good team environment that can ultimately build a productive and self-sufficient momentum.
9. Set a role-play schedule
If you want to commit to using role-playing as a sales training tool, you need to set and stick to a schedule! That way, your sales team is aware of your expectations of them in terms of their learning and development.
10. De-brief and give actionable takeaways
It’s all well and good spending a couple of hours per week dedicated to sales role-playing with your team. However, they need actionable takeaways at the end of every exercise. Otherwise, they may not retain what they learnt, and most importantly, you won’t be able to track their progress for future sales role-play sessions.
Sales Role-Play Assessment Framework
To ensure you’re using role-play as a sales training tool, you need to measure the long-term effect on your sales team’s performance. For this reason, we’ve created a sales role-play assessment framework that you can follow in your next sales role-playing session.
- Engages the prospect and gains their full attention.
- Effectively builds rapport.
- Smooth transition into needs identification.
- Uncover the prospect’s known needs.
- Reviewed the uncovered needs.
- Probed for any additional needs or changes in the situation.
- Gained a pre-commitment to consider the product/service and smooth.
- Established credibility in their ability to deliver a solution.
- Demonstrated product knowledge by skillfully connecting the buyer’s needs to the product’s features.
- Used appropriate proof devices(testimonials, 3rd party evaluations, computer demonstrations, samples, tests, case studies, etc.)
- Involves the buyer in the presentation process.
- Asks follow-up questions to determine acceptance of the value presented and where the buyer is in the decision process,
- Clarifies the prospect’s objection in full.
- Repeats the objection back to the prospect.
- Gets the prospect to clarify the prospect.
- Provides an answer for the objection.
- Confirms with the prospect that their answer is a solution for their objection.
- Repeats the confirmation to ensure they’ve covered all bases.
- Successfully received a confirmation and commitment that the prospect is ready to move to the next step and become a buyer.
- Effective active listening skills (restated, rephrased, clarified, probed for better understanding, etc..)
- Appropriate non-verbal communication relative to any cultural differences (gestures, posture, dress).
- Relaxed, professional and open body language.
- Clear and concise speech.
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