Practice, Practice, Practice!
If you are a Company President, CEO or Business Owner, looking for a quantum improvement in your sales team’s performance, here are two questions that may be of interest.
Question 1: What is the best tool for a sales coach to use to quickly raise their sales team’s performance?
Question 2: What is the most neglected tool available to a sales coach when coaching their sales team?
Would you be surprised to learn that the answer to both of these questions is the same?
The answer is role-playing.
A great mentor of mine once told me, “Everyone wants to play in the big game but nobody wants to practice!”
Too many salespeople don’t want to practice for the big game. In sales, practicing means role-playing various sales situations salespeople have encountered or will likely encounter. Situations where they may need to employ a specific sales strategy, achieve a defined milestone in the sales process, dealing with difficult personalities or lower the prospect’s resistance to name a few examples. All of these situations require a salesperson who is prepared for them. A salesperson who ‘wings it’ in these types of sales calls, thinking they will be able to come up with the right response on the spot is a salesperson who is bound to fail more times than they win.
Unfortunately, sales managers are contributing to this problem of lack of practicing by not making role-playing a regular part of their sales meetings and neglecting to give their salespeople the tools they need to be successful.
Role-playing done right gives a sales manager an opportunity to learn about their team:
- How do the salespeople sound in a sales call?
- Are they asking enough questions?
- Are they asking the right questions?
- Are they using active listening to sell consultatively?
- Is the salesperson capable of lowering resistance by the prospect?
In order for role-playing practice to provide value for participants and increase their learning, sales managers should follow these guidelines and communicate the following to their team:
- The role-playing session is an opportunity to get better at what they do.
- The session is low risk–they can’t lose a sale in a practice situation.
- That initially, they will feel uncomfortable and the more they practice the more comfortable they’ll feel.
- They will be more prepared to deal with anything that happens in a sales call.
An additional benefit of using role-playing is that sales manager can then begin to accumulate the sales strategies and tactics used in the sessions and put together a ‘best practices’ toolkit that the team can then put to use in the future with the message: “Here are the thought processes, sales strategies and tactics we want the team to use because we know they work!”
Once you have these guidelines in place, it’s practice, practice practice!