Last week I argued that the age old practice of role play was much maligned in B2B sales circles. I often cringe when I see sales leaders/manager/coaches try to execute whilst Sales Executives goof off and don’t execute professionally.
- Train and transfer knowledge first- be clear about the chosen sales methodologies to be focused on, and write them as simple mnemonics, acronyms, models, memory frameworks as much as possible
- Write real world role play scenarios- the customer version which will be more detailed and provide the clues for the role player to exercise the customer’s part of the models alluded to above
- Write real world role play parallel to the Sales Executive’s version, which will be less detailed and provide for the initial customer’s verbal outline
- Start “phase 1” role playing by allowing the participants to not worry about trying to execute within real world time constraints- let them take their time to really practice the skills firstly before later phases of role play practice when real world time restraints should be applied
- Also, let the participants gather their thoughts, even write them down upon giving them their role play brief sheets, before they start actual role play. Again, in later phases, when skills and knowledge have been inculcated , remove this unreal “leg up”
These are just a few tips. You see, professional and valuable role play practice is not easy, and requires preparation and skill just to set it up, in order to increase sales force effectiveness. A full range of scenarios for role play need to be written. But most importantly there must be a commitment to practice regularly – forever. And role play for B2B sales team, when executed well, is a great medium. Regular practice. I am pretty confident that when Hawthorn won the AFL last year, and South Sydney won the NRL last year, their players and coached executed well drilled, real practice. Their version of role play for sales force effectiveness.