Role playing in sales can be a great way to train your sales staff to not only think on their feet, but to learn how to overcome specific objections and work on areas where they might be lacking. Surprisingly, not all sales teams do role playing exercises, and of the ones who do, many don’t have a plan. Instead, they wing it hoping that it helps.
But like anything else, you should make some specific goals and rules for yourself if you’re going to get real value out of role playing, otherwise it’s just a fun way to get off the phones for a few hours. Here are five role playing tips that will ensure that your role playing exercises actually help you and your team close more deals:
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1. Take off the pressure
It might sound counterintuitive, but role playing should remove the pressure from the situation. The point of the exercise is to learn and improve, not to catch someone in a “gotcha” moment. Make it clear before you start that this is for everybody’s benefit and that messing up is fine. The more comfortable your sales staff feels role playing and being put on the spot, the more likely they are to derive real, actionable lessons from the exercises.
2. Focus on specific scenarios
It’s tempting to want to “stump” somebody during a role playing sales call, but very few people actually learn anything from this. Instead, make a list of the most common scenarios or objections that you come across in your business. Maybe it’s a competitor objection, or a new use case in a market you’re trying to break into that isn’t familiar with your product yet. Whatever the most likely scenarios in your business are, plan your exercises around those scenarios. This means discussing them before the calls- not just after.
3. Teach listening skills
Everybody knows just how important listening to your prospects is in sales, but almost nobody teaches or practices it. Role playing is a great time to assess and improve salespeople’s listening skills. See how much they interrupt the person playing the prospect, and how many questions they ask instead of simply talking about themselves and the business. Becoming an active listener can be one of the best skills a salesperson can learn, which makes it a shame that more teams don’t practice it.
4. Don’t limit yourself to the first contact
Another frequent mistake that people make when role playing is limiting the exercises to the first call “scenario.” Of course it makes sense to practice this because on high volume call floors, this is the scenario you’re going to be dealing with most of the time, but you can’t just limit yourself to it. Practice follow up discussions, sales presentations, and re-engagement calls. Practice asking for referrals. There are so many scenarios that a salesperson deals with on a day-to-day basis that it’s negligent to ignore most of them.
5. Debrief with actionable information
Spending a few hours a week doing role playing is great, but you need to have something that you can walk away with at the end of every exercise. And that something should be actionable. Make sure that you’re writing down areas where you (or your team) can improve, and the specific areas that they should work on. Try to make it as granular as possible. The key is for somebody to take an area where they’re weak and work on it so much that it becomes second nature the next time they encounter it on the phone. If you do this, then you’ll absolutely get the most out of your role playing exercises.