The words "Role Play" immediately bring feelings of fear, dread, and anxiety for most salespeople.
That's easy. Most sales managers use role-playing as a form of punishment. We've all either done it or had it done to us.
As a manager, we are often frustrated by a salesperson, team, or project when they fail to make the progress that we expect. We try all kinds of solutions: motivation, incentives and sometimes "threats," but when those don't work, what do we do? We summon the team for a meeting. A meeting where we ROLE-PLAY! That'll work! Right?
Well, it can, but only if we do it right!
Role-playing should not be a form of punishment, but rather an encouraging tool that helps our sales staffs get better at their jobs! If we implement a role-play well, our salespeople should love them and want to do them.
Here are three ways that you can improve role-playing in your sales organization.
1) Plan Ahead! Give your sales team plenty of notice that you'll be role-playing in your next sales meeting. This will give you and them time to prepare for a productive and useful role-play. Prepare realistic scenarios utilizing actual clients/prospects, using real sales presentations about real challenges that the client is facing. (Note: You should also do role-play needs analysis, where you actually uncover the client's needs.) Your sales team will come away with a real-life simulation that will actually improve their sales skills and increase revenue!
2) Keep It POSITIVE! This is NOT punishment. Make sure that your team knows that. Get everyone involved. All of your salespeople and sales managers...no exceptions. We want everyone to get better! Focus on the positives that each person is doing and give them real-time feedback. You should also give them 1 or 2 suggestions on how they can improve. When you keep role-plays positive, your team will LOVE them and look forward to doing them more often.
3) Do It regularly! This is not a one-and-done event. Role-playing should be an integral part of your sales team's training. Whether you do it once a week or once a month depends on how much you want your team to improve. Just like any skill, the more you do it, the better you will get. If Michael Jordan practiced lay-ups every day, who thinks that we don't need to practice the "core" skills in our professions? Not me!
If you implement these 3 simple steps in the role-playing playbook, not only will your sales team grow to love role-playing, but you'll also see a big improvement in their sales results.