The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Management Coaching: Only Lazy Sales Managers Use Impromptu Role-Plays

Management CoachingHere's a scenario you might find familiar: “Sales of the new eFrammus haven’t been going as well as the company has forecast,” the sales manager said as he opened his regular Monday morning meeting. “So we really need to bear down on that product line and start moving more right away.” 

To learn more about what the sales problems were, the manager then announced an impromptu role-play. “Chris here will play the role of the eFrammus prospect, and Pat, I’d like you to sell the line to him. Take 30 seconds to get your head into it, then come on up here and show us what you've got."

Anyone who has ever been called up to participate in that kind of charade, or has counted their blessings that they hadn’t been called up themselves, knows the sales manager will learn nothing—nothing about why the eFrammus line isn’t moving and, more importantly, nothing about how Pat actually performs in front of real clients and prospects. Chris isn’t taking this role-play seriously and he isn’t especially motivated to act the least bit real. Pat can’t research Chris (the client)—because he doesn’t exist. And the audience is in on this bad joke, trying desperately not to giggle or guffaw.

Impromptu sales meeting role-plays are occasionally good theatre, but never good training.


Sales managers who use them are lazy—too lazy to build a good training session and too lazy to get out of the office and travel with their salespeople on calls.

There’s only one way to know if your people are performing in the field, and that’s to be with them in the field. There’s only one way to observe their strengths and weaknesses, to discover the obstacles in their path, to see ways for them to put their talents to better use on sales calls—and that’s for the manager to be on calls.

The best sales managers are salespeople managers… focused less on bringing in orders and more on growing the people who bring in the orders. That’s why they spend at least half their time in the field—where they continue to keep their focus on their salesperson, not the order.


Interested in learning more about how to turn your sales team talent into sales performance? Schedule a call with one of our Performance Consultants to learn more about how we help B2B sales organizations attract, retain, and develop the highest performing sales people. 


Steve Marx is Charman Emeritus at The Center for Sales Strategy.

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Topics: Sales