The onboarding process is one of the most important aspects of building your killer sales team. Sales role play is your chance to shape and steer your new members toward the level of quality you are looking for.
Sure, the normal cookie cutter process may work, but are you pushing your new hires to be the best they possibly can be?
One popular method of sales onboarding is role playing.
This allows you to see how your new hires not only deliver a pitch but also measure their ability to problem solve and think on their feet. It also gives them a great opportunity to ask questions and learn how you would like them to navigate certain objections and other roadblocks they may come across throughout new client acquisition and beyond.
When sales hires are put in the position of taking a more active role, they learn faster.
Consider this fact:
“Quizzing oneself on new material, such as by reciting it aloud from memory or trying to tell a friend about it, is a far more powerful way to master information than just re-reading it, according to work by researchers including Henry Roediger III and Jeffrey Karpicke. (Roediger has co-authored his own book, “Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning.”)”
The more senses that we can involve in our learning, the better we will learn. Your new hires could sit there and read scripts but if they are actually speaking aloud and interacting, the learning process advances at a faster clip.
So what about your current sales team? Should they be involved in the role playing?
Even the current rock stars on your team can learn to push themselves even further during role playing activities. Utilize your top salespeople to help new hires learn and become comfortable in their new environment.
The particulars of your role play scenario will vary based on your company, but here are some great starting points to get role-playing integrated with your sales onboarding process. These are based around the most common type of customers most salespeople will encounter across the board.
Also, don’t be afraid to actually do these over the phone. Not only does this better emulate real life, but it allows you to record the training for review later on.
Now lets dive into some specific sales role play examples.
Sales Role Play Scenario #1 – The “I’m-interested-but” customer
Dealing with common objections
This scenario will allow your new sales hires to get familiar with the most common sales objections they will be faced with on the job.
No matter what product or service you are selling, or what field you are in, there will always be reoccurring objections that your sales team hears on a daily basis.
Maybe it’s something as simple as pricing.
Customer: “I am interested in your service but how do you expect me to pay X amount each month?”
By asking this simple question in your role playing scenario, you are asking your new hire to show you how convincing they can be.
Let them respond in the moment and later take a look at the response and identify where it needs polishing.
What if you commonly face this objection?
Customer: “I would love to purchase your product but I don’t have the power to authorize it.”
Not only can this test the salesperson’s ability to get the correct contact’s info, but you can also point this out as an example of a poor lead and examine how this lead was gathered in the first place. Was this a case of fishing in the wrong pond?
Take the opportunity to discuss your lead validation process and how you categorize a “good” vs. “bad” lead.
Once you have role played with the specific objections you want covered, pool your top salespeople and make sure there are none that you may have overlooked.
Sales Role Play Scenario #2 – The argumentative customer
Dealing with conflict
Let’s face it, not every customer experience is a positive one. Test the patience and skill of your new hires when the conversation takes an unpleasant turn.
Potential role-playing customer comments over the phone –
Customer: “I ordered the product 2 weeks ago with Express Shipping and I STILL haven’t received it!”
Customer: “You stole from me! I paid and it’s been a month with no order!”
Customer: “I received my product but it was crushed to pieces!!! Is this how you do business!?
No one likes unhappy customers but when you are in sales, you are bound to stumble across them whether you want to or not.
If your company offers coupons, discounts or any other good-faith deal for the inconvenience, this is important for a new hire to know. You can address the specifics after this role playing experience and study just how well they perform when the customer is all but satisfied.
Sales Role Play Scenario #3 – The Detail-specific customer
Testing your new hire on how he or she will deal with the unknown
Test your new hire’s research skills by seeing what they know about the company. Act the part of a very well-researched client asking very detail-specific questions to identify areas where further education is needed.
Customer: “On the X1500, what is the part that I would need to purchase to fix the C900?”
Occasionally you will deal with a consumer or potential customer that has done their homework. How does your new hire handle detailed questions that might be beyond their scope of knowledge?
Now you can discuss company policy for directing potential customers to the right resource within your company. If they need to speak to an engineer, for example, show them a script of what they can say to the client, how long until they can expect a call-back etc. while showing them how to reach out to the correct resource internally.
Sales Role Play Scenario #4 – The Tech Savvy, window shopping customer
Can you convince the customer why you are the better company?
Let’s look at an industry most of us as familiar with – smartphones.
Your company sells Apple products while your competitor sells Android.
You may think that you have trained your new hires to know the many differences between these product lines, but there will always be that tech-savvy customer who really know the details and forces us the think outside our basic knowledge.
Prepare your team by researching the tiniest of differences between say the Apple and the Android. Bring up as many of these as you can during your role play scenario.
Sales Role Play Scenario #5 – The commitment phobic-customer
Tests their persuasive ability as well as their knowledge
Your hired your new team members to sell, right? So now watch them persuade and assure the customer in this role-playing activity and see just how skilled they are.
Customer: “I would love to buy the class package but I need to enroll for a full year? What if I move or get sick or lose motivation? I don’t think I am ready for that kind of commitment.”
What selling points is your new hire bringing up? How are they breaking down the cost per month? If you were in the customer’s shoes, would you feel that your concerns were valid?
These are the questions to keep in mind as you listen through the other end of the phone. After hearing what the sales team member had to say, do you feel relieved or frustrated? Ready to buy or ready to slam down the phone?
Other Tips for Successful Sales Role-Playing
Still not sure what the ultimate goal behind role-playing is? Perhaps, Marcus Sheridan from the SalesLion.com said it best in his blog post on the subject:
“If an employee has performed proper role-play training they will almost never be presented with a question, concern, or comment from a customer that they haven’t already received in their training.”
Here are other tips for making your role play training a success:
- To take the anxiety out of this activity for entry-level hires, use a script to start them off. No one wants to feel like they aren’t being given a fair opportunity to succeed in their role.
- Let the entire scenario play out before jumping in. This can be hard as a manager but just take notes and let the situation play out in its entirety before giving pointers. Allow them to sink or swim all on their own.
- Remind reps that rejection isn’t personal. Make sure in some of your role playing scenarios, a sale DOESN’T happen. Not every call can end in a conversion and it doesn’t always mean the rep didn’t do his or her job.
- Test their listening skills. As a rep, listening to everything the customer or potential customer says is just as important (if not MORE) than the words that actually come out of their own mouths. Don’t be afraid to through in inaccurate facts about products or services to see if your new hires are really listening to all that is being said.
When done correctly, role playing is not only effective for on-boarding, but it can be fun! It’s a great way to make sure things are being run as you would like them to be, as a manager. You will also get the chance to have the team bond which is another very important aspect of having a well-managed group of all-star sales reps.