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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Be Like Mike: The Power of Practice for Improving Sales Performance

Power of Practice to Increase Sales Performance-1

Besides being arguably some of the best athletes ever, what do Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, and Tiger Woods have in common?

They’re all, or were, known for being the hardest workers during practice. Jordan and Brady were famous for being the first on the court and practice field and the last to leave. Tiger hit thousands of golf balls on the range every day. They began their careers practicing hard and with a mindset that they would get out of the game exactly what they put into it.

Persistence, discipline, competitive spirits, drive, and resilience — athletes and salespeople share a lot of common traits. However, one noticeable difference is that salespeople rarely practice or rehearse.

Great Salespeople Practice

2021 Media Sales Report - download nowExperts in every occupation practice and rehearse. They spend hours preparing on things like how to respond to questions and possible objections in sales meetings. Every sales call and meeting is a game, and every single time, we’re playing to win or lose.

There are several reasons why salespeople don't role play and practice, but the ones that do achieve dramatic results and accelerate the sales cycle in business. They also waste a lot less time on bad opportunities.

We often wonder why our success is so "hit or miss,” and it’s because we’re the only occupation that never practices! Whether in life, business, or sports, you get out what you put in. We have to get into the routine of practicing our skills, running our plays, and preparing for our "games."

3 Ways to Get Your Sales Team to Practice and Win

Mention the phrase “role play,” and most salespeople immediately clam-up with anxiety, fear, and dread. The reasoning is because most sales managers use role-playing as a form of punishment. We've all either done it or had it done to us.  

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.

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 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 and 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. Practice Regularly

Yes, 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?  

“Be true to the game, because the game will be true to you. If you try to shortcut the game, then the game will shortcut you. If you put forth the effort, good things will be bestowed upon you.”

- Michael Jordan

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.

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Topics: Needs Analysis