I have no doubt there will be plenty of sales managers and sales trainers that will take issue with this article. But my experience has taught me that sales role playing is not a great way to train. Not even close.
Why sales role playing doesn’t really work.
While most sales managers/trainers will try to convince the salesperson that they are not trying to embarrass or shame it’s typically what happens. No matter how patient or understanding the trainer is. No one is ever what they’re really like in a role play exercise. Even the trainer. The participant is thinking on what the trainer wants them to say and not just being themselves. They know the trainer has the upper hand in information and direction. A potential customer would not typically put the sales professional in this position.
The idea that role playing gets the participants to realize how hard it is to sell is crazy. “It’s not as easy as it looks” is their cry. Somehow mind numbing repetition in front of your peers or trainer is mandatory to understand what they taught. A sales professional that doesn’t subscribe will not “get” the information. They will not be able to use it in a real sales environment. Bull pucky!
Why sales role playing is so popular.
It’s simple really. Their training sucks. Or at the very least the trainer has no confidence that sales professionals are capable of retaining information without anxiety driven role playing reinforcement. These trainers most likely have never considered newer approaches like sales chunking for retention for example.
Everyone can sell. No role playing necessary.
If motivated properly, of course. If you’ve trained them in such a way to become an evangelist for the product, service and/or company then they will in turn motivate others about what they believe. They will be credible, believable and compelling. I have seen the least “smooth talking” role player become stars because of this.
“If you don’t watch it people will force you one way or the other, into doing what they think you should do…” ― Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
When out on appointments I let the salesperson talk about the company and product offering as much as they want. I will add to the conversation only when absolutely necessary. We then debrief afterwords to decide if we could have done something different. Better. No pressure. No competition. Just being a team having fun doing something we love.
Sales role playing can be useful in a small way.
To be fair there may be times to do some basic, no pressure, sales role playing. If a sales pro comes to me having difficulties with describing or closing on a product/service I will give them an example and let them present that back to me in their own way. Productive without the negative.
Stop role playing and start motivating. Get your sales team to buy off on your training without the negative. You will see results. I did.© 2006-2018 SalesBlog! | Photos courtesy of 123RF | Posted on