At the ripe old age of 36, I’m now comfortable classifying myself as a ‘seasoned’ sales professional having been perfecting my sales approach for the last 15 years.
However, the world of revenue intelligence was completely new to me when I applied for the business development role at Refract so I’ve had a lot to learn. What’s the best way? Practice. Using sales role plays! I get it. It’s not everyone’s favourite activity.
Although role play situations can feel forced and robotic and let’s face it… a little uncomfortable, they’re a great way for reps to get some practice in and for you to get a flavour of how well prepared they are for that next big sales opportunity that they get their teeth into.
It exposes their product knowledge and their capability and confidence when it comes to dealing with common sales objections. Not only that, but when you have new starters in the team,you can use role plays to accelerate their learning and give them the confidence they need to effectively close sales deals!
Use a real-life scenario
Role-playing takes up valuable time of at least 2 people in the team so you want the exercise to be as productive as possible. Use a customer and sales opportunity that you (or the person playing the role of customer) is already familiar with in the real world.
Your sales rep can treat it as a live opportunity (including researching the prospect) and you have the benefit of being able to use objections that you’re aware were used for real!
If your team is phone first, do it on the phone!
If your team is likely to hold the initial discovery conversation on the phone or online, you’ll get a much better result if you incorporate this into the role play too. That also means organising 2 separate meeting rooms ;-)
Being on the phone, your rep will feel more comfortable and you will get a more accurate vibe of how your prospect or customer sees them.
Know your expectations!
What are you looking to gain from the role play as a sales leader? Depending on the sales rep in question and their level of experience, it may be more beneficial to break it down and focus on particular elements such as questioning technique or product knowledge. For someone more experienced, you may want to critique everything.
Give some thought to it beforehand and decide how you want to measure it and ensure the sales rep is aware of what's happening so there’s no surprises - role plays are nerve wrecking enough!
Mix it up a bit
The contacts within each organisation we sell to each have their own distinct personality and I expect you’ll agree with me that it’s important we are dynamic in our approach and learn to deal with those various personalities. This is why it’s important to vary who plays the role of “customer” in these role plays, to ensure the reps get the experience of dealing with different personality types.
You could even take it one step further and pass some of this responsibility to the reps and encourage them to organise role plays with each other and they can review their peers!
Whether it’s phone, online or face to face - record it! When you’re in the moment, you miss things. When you have that recording to listen back to and reflect, both you and the sales rep will pick up on so much more - the missed opportunities and the great sales moments.
Make it a regular practice
Even when your team is well established and they have their feet firmly under the table, bad habits easily creep in and role playing is a great way to brush up on our skills - even more so if you have a new product or service released.