Let’s face it, most sales people cringe at the thought of role-play, and rightfully so.
Generally, role-play is a poorly planned, half-hearted afterthought, that occasionally happens at a quarterly (or annual) sales meeting. How in the world could such an effort produce positive results and beneficial outcomes? It can’t!
However, when role-play is a well thought out, strategically orchestrated practice that is properly introduced and embedded into the sales culture, it can mean the difference between barely hitting your numbers each month, and consistently crushing your sales goals, month after month, and year after year.
Here’s how to approach implementing and embedding role-play into your sales culture, and having your sales professionals fully embrace the value and power of role-play, to produce consistent sales growth,
1. As a sales leader responsible for the success of your sales team, you must be fully committed to seeing this initiative through, no matter how ugly it gets at the beginning - and it will!
Your salespeople are going to push back, it’s going to be uncomfortable, they’re gonna want to quit, and you might even lose some people who you consider to be your “rockstars.“ Don't worry, the cream will rise to the top with your guidance, support and leadership.
Take heart, though. If your people truly know that you’re committed to their success, and you’ll do whatever it takes to help them succeed, they will follow you as you push and help them through the discomfort they'll initially face as they start to role-play.
However, this is going to require you to be willing to be transparent, vulnerable, and a little uncomfortable as you actually demonstrate (actually show them) what good looks like, the struggle that’s inevitable, and that it’s OK to be uncomfortable as long as they push through.
2. Make role-play a consistent daily practice.
As you roll out your role-play initiative, you might want to take one or two days out of the field to train and acclimate them to the practice. In this one to two days, ease them into role-play, and increase the intensity and difficulty as you go through those two days.
At the end of those two days, they will have pushed thru most of the discomfort, and from then on, in perpetuity, have them take 30 minutes, at the beginning (or end) of every selling day, to role-play with a partner, live in person, or virtually.
Anything less than that regimen, and you’re probably wasting your time, and should probably not attempt to implement and embed role-play into your sales culture.
3. As part of the role-play practice, make sure that at the end, you're debriefing victories and opportunities.
It’s not enough just to practice role-play. It’s important that the sales team give feedback to themselves, and each other, in a non-judgemental and encouraging way.
Videotaping, or recording the role-play, and then playing it back to allow self evaluation, self discovery, and peer review is a healthy practice as long as you, as the leader, create a culture of encouragement and support.
The reason I know this works is because this is exactly how I began my career as a pharmaceutical sales professional.
We had a Director of Training who was very skilled and talented at training and developing us in the area of role-play. It literally prepared us for anything that we would face out in the field. I have to admit it was completely painful the first few days of role-play, as we literally spent two weeks in our initial training, role-playing, 4-6 hours a day.
I went on, throughout my sales career, to keep up this practice with my colleagues, and eventually made this practice a key component of all of the sales training I do. It has been a huge success across, multiple industries and organizations, in helping sales teams to achieve consistent, predictable and profitable sales growth.
You may not have great deal of time, upfront, to invest in creating a culture of role-play, but as long as you’re consistent, committed and supportive of your sales team, you can accomplish great things by taking 1 to 2 days out of the territory, to train and implement role-play into the culture, and then set a cadence that allows them to practice at least 30 minutes at the beginning of every day.
If you'd like help planning and executing an initiative to introduce and embed role-play into your sales culture, we'd be glad to help. Schedule a complimentary strategy session by calling (225) 384-0693, or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if you'd prefer, just grab a spot on my calendar here.