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Role Playing Tips To Increase Your Sales Success

By Paul DiModica

Role playing is an underused sales tool. When employed correctly, it can increase your sales team success, identify sales skill gaps and allow you to develop an esprit de corps amongst your sales team as they experience sales education as a team.

Conversely, when incorrectly used, it embarrasses your sales account managers, produces poor sales/management interaction and hides sales training requirements from your executive staff. It is estimated that only 21% of sales teams actually role play sales issues and objections during the sales year.

So, how should role playing be used? Role playing is a business tool to manage sales stress when communicating to prospects.

As sales stress increases during prospect interaction, salespeople lose control of their verbal responses, shoot from the hip and simultaneously lose control of the sales cycle. Sales stress develops when salespeople are not prepared to respond to the weaves and bobs of prospect questioning. Managing prospect questioning through a trained process will reduce sales stress and increase sales success.

Sales role playing, like any other training tool, needs to be a structured process with guidelines in order for your sales team to get the most out of it. The sales program should have specific goals based on written objectives. Pulling a salesperson into a corner office and grilling them as a CEO buyer may be as effective as focusing on targeted sales skill improvement based on increasing sales efficiency on sales techniques like prospect questioning, cold calling, demos, etc.

Never make role playing easy: Salespeople must learn to be able to handle pressure (and stress) in the form of difficult inbound questions from prospects based on the prospect's probing need to know about your value, price, competitive positioning and feature/function offers. Being tough in role playing makes salespeople ready for any outcome.

Role play by title of buyers: Salespeople need to adapt to their sales verbal communication skills by buyer title. The way you sell a CFO of a Fortune 1000 firm is diametrically different than a president of a small private firm. If you are selling a VP of Marketing, than role play with someone who will act like a VP of Marketing.

Create a Prospect Dictionary: Catalogue the words that your targeted prospect buyer will use during your sales cycle and use them during your role playing practice. The more you sound like the buyer, the faster they will see you like themselves and as a peer.

Split role playing between sales peers and sales management: Sales role playing should be carried out by both sales management and sales team members to allow for diversity of approach and experience. Have each team member take turns being the buyer or the seller.

Make a list of your top ten sales objections and use them during your role playing sessions: Selling management is just managing their understanding of your value. Value is communicated based on your ability to show the prospect how you can help fix their business pain. Always role play your 10 toughest sales objections so salespeople can see how to manage value expectations with their most common objections and questions.

When role playing with salespeople, redirect all conversation away from the sales process: Prospects (even qualified prospects) at times will change subjects and "steer" salespeople away from sales cycle conversation. To sell senior management, salespeople need to chit chat less and stay on the targeted goals of the appointment or conversation by qualifying the prospect and moving forward in the sales cycle. Role play with sales team members to see how quickly and succinctly they bring back the conversation to the discussion about relevant business issues.

Tape record all role playing sessions: Role playing is a reusable, educational tool that should be listened to over and over again. By recording your sales role playing session, you can later document great sales objection responses and disseminate them in written form to your sales team.

Document each salesperson's role playing strengths and weaknesses: Role playing is a replicable, scalable sales tool. Understanding and managing your sales team's skill sets will help them hit their sales quota faster. If a salesperson crumbles under the pressure of sales role playing with their peers or their direct sales manager, how will they perform in person? And how many qualified prospects are they burning through by saying the wrong thing? Through role playing, you can help individual salespeople increase sales quota success.

Role playing is a business tool to improve sales team member peak performance. Through role playing, salespeople can being exposed to simulated sales cycle prospect interactions, and experience the ebb and flow of sales dialogue to help them build proactive responses. By using role playing as experiential training tool, salespeople can anticipate prospect comments and selling pressure before it happens to help them develop specific talking points that will help them increase their sales closing ratio.

Build role playing into your sales process and increase your revenue capture. To Increase Your Sales Income - Role Play More!

Read other articles and learn more about Paul DiModica.

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