5 Tips for More Effective Sales Training Role Plays
More Effective Sales Training Role Plays
Sales role plays have long been touted as an effective way to train salespeople in new sales skills and sales behaviors. Sales role plays done right can be enormously effective…the learners have an opportunity to test their skills in a supportive environment and can benefit from the coaching of those who observe them.
Done wrong, however, sales role plays can be de-motivating and destroy the learner’s confidence.
Five Tips for More Effective Sales Training Role Plays
Here are 5 sales training role play tips to increase, not decrease, solution selling skill levels:
#1. Make the Sales Role Play Objectives Simple, Clear and Specific
Sales reps should have a clear idea of what they are being challenged to do and what specific skills they are testing.
- How far along in the sales process are they with this customer?
- Are they just beginning to build the relationship?
- Are they at the discovery stage?
- Have they confirmed their understanding of the customer’s need/problem?
- Is there a specific obstacle they must try to overcome?
- Are they approaching the close?
Ideally, each stage in the sales methodology should be practiced with an emphasis on the critical few stages that matter most for your specific sales strategy, culture and target buyer. Keep it simple to increase the impact.
#2. Customize the Role Play so It’s Real
The sales training scenarios you design should mirror the most frequent and important sales situations faced by your team. Identify the top five sales scenarios that matter most in terms of your sales success metrics – e.g. revenue, margin, win-rate, cycle time and portfolio mix.
It is helpful, too, to mirror your unique environment. Some of the role plays should be “over the phone;” others at a meeting with slides; and a third at a one-on-one session. Each venue has different advantages and disadvantages. Your sales reps should practice in the environments that matter most.
#3. Ask Reps for their Feedback First
Real learning continues when the learner can assess their own performance and make adjustments as needed. Ask the reps how well they think they did in the role play…both positive and negative reactions…and what they will do differently the next round.
After they have provided a self-critique, be balanced and fair with your performance feedback. With too much emphasis on the positive, they may think they have little to learn; with too much focus on the negative, you risk their loss of confidence.
#4. Create Clear Sales Performance Tests
A performance test explicitly measures the performance (or application) of the desired sales skills in real-world simulations. Some of the ways to test whether a sales training participant can actually perform on the job are through observation, scenario questions or simulations. This is the better way to test if your sales force will be able to transfer the learning to the workplace.
#5. Suggest Next Steps
Be simple, clear and specific with action steps your sales reps can take to improve. General comments like, “You need to work on your questioning skills” are not helpful. You need to suggest specific wording or a different tactic or, perhaps, better research beforehand. The list you provide for action becomes your outline for subsequent discussions and coaching.
The Bottom Line
Only 1-in-5 sales reps change their behavior and performance from isolated training events. If you want your solution selling sales reps to improve their performance use targeted sales role plays, performance tests and sales performance coaching to grow revenues, margins and customer satisfaction.
Want to improve your consultative sales skills? Download 30 Effective Sales Questions More Important than Budget When Selling Solutions