What is mankind’s biggest phobia? Hint: It isn’t spiders, heights, or even dying. It’s glossophobia, the fear of public speaking.
Also, on the list of soft skills that people fear most are acting and the public test of career competence. In sales, there’s one awkward activity that happens to combine all three — role playing.
As a sales manager, we often use sales role play exercises as a form of punishment. When salespeople fail to make the progress we expect, we summon a team meeting where we role play. Now, as everyone is working from home, the idea of practicing our craft with role plays seems even more difficult.
How can you improve something that was dreaded even before the pandemic?
When Did Practice Become a Bad Thing?
Virtual role plays is a little more complicated, but salespeople still need to practice their craft. Sales managers must find innovative ways to coach and provide feedback in ways that will constantly improve their team’s performance.
As the coach, your feedback matters; it’s an integral part of your salespeople’s success. Your sales team's performance is the difference between hitting your budget or missing it. And it can be the difference between whether a salesperson on your staff is successful or not!
Often practice is the difference between success and failure. Even the all-time great athletes like Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, and Tiger Woods practiced more than any other players in their sports.
If those guys needed to practice, what makes any of our salespeople think they don't need practice?
How Do You Role Play while Working From Home?
Below are three real tips on how you can improve virtual role plays for your sales team.
Now that most appointments are being held through a shared screen like a Zoom or Teams, so should your role plays.
By now, your salespeople should be familiar, if not experts, in using these services, but if not, this is an excellent way to improve their skills. The role play should follow the same agenda as a regular needs analysis appointment.
Have the rep email you the meeting invitation, as well as a brief overview of the purpose of the meeting.
To set the scene of your role play, you'll need to develop a scenario for your salesperson and yourself to work from during the exercise.
- First, create a customer profile of the business so that your salesperson can prepare for the meeting.
- Then, create the buyer's profile that details the business's proprietary information so that you can answer the sales rep's questions.
Finally, provide coaching and feedback to your salesperson on their performance.
- You will want to be specific about their needs analysis; giving general feedback like, "You did great." can turn off good salespeople.
- Start with the positive elements of the call so that you encourage that behavior.
Then provide a couple of specific ways that they can improve for their next real new business appointment.
Sales Role Play Tips
Whether your salespeople love or hate role-plays, you need to help them improve their sales skills by participating in some practice. And doing it via a Zoom call will help them acclimate to our new work-from-home world.
Remember, it’s your responsibility to lead by example and be willing to participate in role-plays as well. Make the role play about one or two skills, not their entire performance. And, like deliberate practice, role-plays should be performed routinely for maximum impact on performance.