Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Wisdom of Role Playing (Shhh!, Not So Loud) for Sales Success, Part II (please read Part I first)

In Part I of this article, I explained why sales people should role play. Here in Part II, I offer the following guidelines for structuring productive and skill-based developmental role plays:

The Rehearsal: Developmental Role Playing Guidelines

1. Identify challenging client situations.

Common sales challenges might include:

  • Responding to tough objections
  • Differentiating yourself and organization
  • Selling value over price
  • Positioning products and services
  • Asking need-based questions
  • Gaining an appointment with a prospect
  • Closing business or gaining action steps

2. Ask a colleague or manager to play the role of a client or prospect, depending on the situation.

This person will also be the “coach” who provides feedback after the role play. This is a good time to agree on role play and feedback ground rules:
  • Feedback should be balanced with strengths and areas for development. The coach should be prepared to provide both.
  • The role play should be viewed as a developmental process and not a performance evaluation. It’s a perfect time to go out of the comfort zone and try something new.

3. Verbally set-up the sales situation and the events leading up to the practice moment.

For example, you might use a set-up that reflects a first meeting with a prospect who has a tough objection:

Right now we are meeting for the first time. You got the meeting using a third party referral. After a brief introduction and agreement on a meeting agenda, the prospect says: “I appreciate your taking the time to meet with me, but I just want you to understand that we have been with our current provider for several years and we are quite satisfied with our relationship.”

4. Start the role play at the moment the prospect makes the statement.

5. Conduct the role play until you feel you’ve completed the dialogue with the prospect role.

The role play most likely will take 5 to 10 minutes. Do not interrupt the role play, unless it goes way off course.

6. After the role play, use the following feedback process.

  • The person in the role of the sales person provides a self-assessment of strengths and areas for improvement, providing specific examples of each.
  • The coach provides balanced feedback on strength and areas for improvement, providing specific examples of each.
  • Both discuss the key learning points and how to apply them to real life.

7. Re-do the role play to rehearse learning points.

Remember, role play is rehearsal, your practice before the big game or race. It creates patterns in the brain that you can rely on during stressful or challenging sales situations, giving you a been there, done that confidence. Now, go rehearse your next sales call!

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