Role-playing is one of the most commonly-used sales training and coaching techniques. Indeed, there’s no better way to get teams thinking on their feet, sticking to the script (or improvising when necessary) than rehearsing real-life situations.
That said, don’t miss the key to a successful role-playing process that pushes your team to new levels – discomfort.
Take the traditional role-play scenario. Your team meets for sales training, pairing off with coworkers they’re familiar with and who receive the same coaching. They deliver nearly identical pitches and give each other lightly worded constructive criticism. In truth, this practice is more of a rehearsal and too often, these drills improve acting skills rather than sales ability.
When confronted with the same coworkers and friends, will your team learn new skills? Probably not. It’s too easy to stick to the script. So, do a little improv and switch things up! Our suggestion – get your team in front of different critics.
Here are three types of people to invite into your next role-play training:
1. Sales People Outside of Your Company
Take it outside! Professionals in your field take their work seriously and therefore respect the value of educated criticism. By far the toughest critics, role-playing with a seasoned sales professional outside of your coaching circle means fresh, detailed and honest feedback. Additionally, it creates the opportunity for an objective outsider to uncover areas for improvement that even your company’s sales leaders are unable to observe.
Pro Tip: do this with a strategic referral partner’s sales team, so you learn more about each others’ businesses and increase the potential for referrals.
2. Strangers in Target Audience
There is no person better to role-play than the one your team sells to. While they may not offer critical feedback of your sales tactics, their natural objections and questions create real-time situations to overcome. That means, your team will be plenty prepared in the field. Having a strong pulse on your target audience, their needs and common push-back makes the task of selling to them much easier.
Pro tip: make sure your salespeople take notes about the questions and objections raised by prospects, and review these as a team.
You’ve probably never acted in a movie but you can easily spot bad acting, right? Well, help your team become their own critics and record them. This is especially helpful for sales people who think they have it down. In reality, their too-fast answers and “always be selling” mentality may come on too strong or prevent them from properly listening to prospects. Watch the recording right away to evaluate performance and identify opportunities to improve. While it’s always the most uncomfortable role-playing scenario, it demonstrates to your sales people what they’re doing, and not doing, more effectively than your feedback alone.