How to Use Role-play to Improve Sales

  • Sales Xceleration Team
shutterstock_1332820514 (1)
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Sales Role-play: How to Use Role-plays to Improve Sales and Win Customers

If you aren’t using sales role-plays, you are missing a golden opportunity to sharpen the skills of your sales team and improve sales success. In fact, because roughly 80% of sales teams do not use role-plays to enhance sales skills, you gain an instant advantage over your competition. And this advantage is amplified if your role-plays are strategically designed, delivered and deployed to optimize customer-facing performance. Let’s look at the advantages and components of successful sales role-plays:

Sales role-plays can be an effective way for salespeople to hone their presentation skills in a safe sales training environment without the stress of learning in front of the customer! When considering and designing sales role-play training, it is wise to customize your role-plays to the needs of your salespeople, your business solutions, and especially, your customers.

Goals for Role-playing

As with any strategic sales initiative, it helps to define and understand key goals before undertaking sales role-playing. Note that these goals are the desired big-picture, client-facing outcomes after the lessons learned are implemented in the field.

When designing and delivering role-plays for your sales team, make sure you establish your training content to help the salesperson achieve these goals:

  • Discover the buyer’s needs, including whether you are able to cure the prospect’s “pain,” as well as their current problems, goals, obstacles, and budget limitations.
  • Uncover the prospect’s decision-making process. The training should help the salesperson determine the prospect’s buying decision criteria and understand which decision-makers are required to secure the sale.
  • Determine relevant facts about the prospect’s company and/or buyers. Effective role-plays will empower the salesperson to uncover essential information necessary to fine-tune the sales process in real time.
  • Equip the salesperson with effective questions that highlight for the buyer what happens to their company when problems continue. This helps convert implied needs to explicit needs that might even be seen as now urgent!
  • Gain pre-commitment from the prospect to consider your product/service solution, thus easing the transition from lead generation to buyer presentation.

Learning Objectives When Using Role-plays

Before these goals are achievable, however, the sales role-plays must be set up for success. Simply put, effective role-plays should be designed to establish a safe environment in which the salesperson can learn the skills necessary to perform at their best in front of the customer. In such a training environment, the salesperson, along with the sales manager conducting the training, should feel free to explore sales technique options and variations without the pressure of a real-world customer-facing sales situation. This freedom can help turn an often stressful and uncomfortable setting into an encouraging and productive one.

However, this doesn’t mean that role-playing shouldn’t be challenging. When simulating anticipated situations, your sales role-play training should include possible tough customer objections and even tense interpersonal exchanges. While the stakes in your role-playing session might not exactly be low key, the stakes in actual sales meetings will likely be much higher. With that in mind, make your role-play training realistic, but also challenging.

For more insights into how to conduct effective sales role-plays, read this related article.

Key Takeaways for Designing and Conducting Successful Role-plays

Role-plays are not meant to shine a harsh light on a salesperson’s mistakes or weaknesses; rather, they should provide foundations for needed training and enhanced sales performance. Because of their importance, you should make role-plays a regular part of your sales meetings. (They don’t always need to be longer-form, focused role-play events.) Also, don’t implement sales role-play only when there is a problem; if you use them this way, they will be perceived as punitive rather than constructive.

The most important thing to remember and reinforce using sales role-play is this: Never practice sales techniques on your customers. Instead, make sure you have explored scenarios and solutions with enough depth beforehand, so you don’t falter in front of a key prospect or buyer.

Bottom Line:

As I mentioned in my book, Beyond the Mountaintop: Observations on Selling, Living and Achieving, Hall of Fame NFL coach Vince Lombardi said, “only perfect practice makes perfect.” That’s why well-designed and delivered sales role-play can be a critical competitive advantage for sales success.

To help you evaluate the effectiveness of your sales role-play training, get our free Role-play Feedback Tool. And to learn more about how to utilize sales role-playing for your sales team, contact Sales Xceleration today at 844.874.7253 or click here to connect with a licensed sales management consulting Advisor in your area.



Want to learn more about sales consulting and sales strategy? Read about various sales topics in our sales consulting blog.