What Is a Sales Role Play?

A sales role play is a tool for developing and coaching your sales team. It uses situations that closely replicate what they may experience in real-life selling.

It’s considered an improvisation game allowing your reps to interact with other reps acting out the role of different customer types.

sales role play group training

(Image Source: Elevate Corporate Training)

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.

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.”)”

Aside from being a great teaching moment in enhancing the skills of your team, it also models preparedness.

With this technique, they’d learn to prepare for the unexpected — or shall I say, the worst arguments with potential clients.

As for the sales scenario, it’s the sales situation that your team needs to act out. One person pretends to be the potential client, while the other will play the role of a rep.

5 Reasons Why you and Your Sales Team Need to Role Play

By giving your new hires different role play exercises, you are helping them create familiarity, build empathy, and learn conflict resolution.

1. Creating familiarity

Your team would be interacting with varying types of individuals within the course of their work. That’s why it’s best to familiarize them with the kinds of customers they may encounter along the way and teach them how to handle each.

2. Learning to perform under pressure

Performing in front of your peers or co-workers is one of the most difficult situations your sales rep can be in.

If they can do well in role plays, there’s a huge chance that they’d also perform well with real clients. The more practice and experience they get, the better they’ll handle their future sales calls.

sales roleplay perform under pressure

3. Building empathy

In some sales role play scripts, your staff would also be performing as customers. They’d understand how it’d feel to be on the other end, thus teaching to be empathetic towards clients.

4. Learning conflict resolution

There’d be a lot of dissatisfied customers — more than you might imagine. Acting out interactions with irate clients can help them resolve conflicts more efficiently.

5. Providing group learning efficiency

Role playing can provide a continuous learning process for everyone — not just for the people who act out the different scenarios. It’s a great way to create an excellent learning environment for everyone on your sales team as each one of them has surely something to learn and improve.

What to Sell During a Sales Role Play?

The most common thing being sold during sales negotiation role play exercises is a “pen.” It’s a very simple product, right?

But its simplicity is what makes it complicated to sell.

sell me this pen sales role play

(Image Source: Ampliz)

Many new reps might use the most common approach which is by explaining the qualities of the pen, who manufactured it, how much it costs, and so on.

Yeah sure, the customer might want to learn about that stuff. But the thing is, it’s not the best approach.

Look at this example.

sample sales role play

(Image Source: SalesScripter)

The statements above talk about the product, which is not a good thing. Although it’s important to talk about what you sell, some reps make the mistake of talking about it too much.

Also, the example shows the “all about me” pitch. It’s not engaging at all and doesn’t foster rapport and good relationships.

It’s like having a conversation with someone who likes talking about their stuff — their achievements, hobbies, interests, and life in general. You don’t like that, do you?

Apparently, the customer won’t like that as well.

Instead of using a ‘narcissist’ approach, you should focus more on the prospects’ needs than yourself.

Another problem with the above approach is the salesperson failed to determine if the individual he’s trying to sell to is qualified.

It’s like selling a pen to a person who doesn’t need it at all.

Lastly, people don’t like being sold to. Yes, you need to buy things from time to time. However, it’s a different scenario when someone talks you into buying.

And if a rep does it aggressively, the prospect might think he’s being taken advantage of.

So, to ensure your sales reps will ace your role play script about selling a product, teach them the following steps:

Ask pre-qualifying questions

First things first, determine if the person you’re talking to is a qualified prospect.

You can ask him about what type of pens he usually uses? Or if the quality of a pen is important for him in writing?

Talk about common pain points

Mention common pain points like lower quality pens can make it difficult for a person to take down notes.

Or tell him that it may hurt his personal pride if he uses poor quality pens or disposable pens in meetings.

Discuss benefits

Tell your prospect what’s in it for him if he buys the pen.

Would it help him write better quality notes? Or does it have a sturdy design that’d make it last for a long time?

Close the sale

Now, it’s time to know whether he’d purchase the product or not. You can offer him to test the pen to see its quality, then ask him if he’d enjoy using it every day.

Finally, ask him if he’d like to move forward and purchase the pen.

These steps focused on the benefits and how the product would solve the prospects’ pain points.

5 Sales Role Play Scenarios and Examples

Here are five sales role play scenario examples that your sales team can practice with.

1. The “I’m-interested-but” customer

This exercise would help your sales reps familiarize themselves with common objections on the job and learn how to deal with them.

No matter what industry you’re in or what product you sell, these objections are inevitable. Your team may even handle objections daily.

The issue can be on the pricing, so your reps might hear questions like…

“I am interested in your product or service but how do you expect me to pay X amount every month?”

By posing this question during professional sales role play, your team can show you how convincing they can be.

What if you commonly face this objection?

Customers would say, “I’d love to buy your product but I don’t have the power to authorize it.”

Aside from being the perfect question to assess your reps’ ability to collect the correct contact info, you can also use this as an example of a poor quality lead.

You can proceed to determine how your team came up with that lead.

Were they looking for leads in the wrong industry?

This would be the perfect time to discuss how your brand validates leads and how to put leads in their proper categories. It’s always a bad lead vs. a good lead.

2.The argumentative customer

If there’s one thing your new hires need to know, it’s that not all customer experience is positive.

Therefore, it’s important to test their patience by bringing an unpleasant conversation — make sure they won’t like the turn of events one bit because they may experience worse on the job.

Patience is a virtue and they should remember that.

Here are some potential comments your reps might hear:

“I haven’t received my product yet and I ordered it three weeks ago with Express Shipping.”

“I received a broken product—is this how you treat your customers?!”

“Your company is a big scam—I already paid for my order but received nothing!”

Well, let’s face it: Nobody wants unhappy clients, especially in sales. If only, we can give them everything they want pronto. However, that’s not the case.

You’re going to deal with these unhappy customers whether you like it or not.

To help your new hires, inform them about discounts, coupons, or other attractive deals that can help customers warm up to them and most of all, convince them to buy.

3. The detail-specific-customer

This role play exercise can test how much your sales team knows about your company and its products.

In this scenario, you’re going to act out the role of a well-researched customer. Ask them very specific questions that’d require further education.

For instance, ask them questions like this:

“On the A0420, what’s the product I need to purchase to fix the E1206?”

We can’t deny the fact we may encounter clients who have diligently done their homework.

So in this case, you’re teaching your sales reps to deal with the unknown.

After this role play activity, you can discuss company policies that cover the right department or resource for every need.

If the client needs to speak to an engineer to get answers to his questions, your team should have a script on directing the customers to the proper resource in your company.

4. The tech savvy, window shopping customer

Let’s say your company is selling smartphones, specifically Android phones. Therefore, your competitor would be Apple.

You might think you’ve exhausted all your efforts in training your new hires about the difference between your brand’s product to its competitors, but you might still be missing something.

There’ll be tech savvy clients who know all the details — even the tiny, unnoticeable ones. And this would force your sales team to think beyond what they know.

To ensure your reps’ preparedness, show them the tiniest of differences of your product from its main counterpart in the market.

Bring up as many as you can during the sales role play scenario.

5. The commitment phobic-customer

This is one of the role play training examples that would test your new hires’ knowledge and persuasive ability.

The main reason why you hired them is for them to sell your products or services. So, in this role play activity, you’d determine how skilled they are in persuading customers.

Here’s a role play script you can use:

“I want to avail of the 1-year fitness plan. However, I’m thinking, what if I lose motivation halfway through my subscription? Or if I need to move to another city? I’m not really sure if I’m 100% ready for this kind of commitment.”

Just let your reps talk and observe the selling points they try to bring up to persuade the customer.

Did they show a detailed breakdown of how much your product or service costs a month in that particular subscription?

After listening to their responses, try to assess if their answers made you feel frustrated or relieved? Are you excited to make the purchase or can’t wait to hang up the phone?

4 Tips for Successful Sales Role Playing

The ultimate goal behind role-playing according to Marcus Sheridan of SalesLion.com is to provide training that’d prepare the reps for everything on the job.

In short, there’s almost no comment, concern, or question that your sales team hasn’t already encountered in their role play exercises.

Here are more tips to ensure the success of this activity:

1. Let them use a script

Your new hires are anxious — and that’s totally normal and acceptable. So, to give them a fair opportunity, allow them to use a script.

This way, they’d feel they are given equal opportunities to succeed in their role.

2. Allow reps to finish the scenario before commenting

As a manager, you may find it hard to control yourself from expressing your thoughts about what’s happening in the scene being played out.

However, it’d be best if you just listen and take down notes. You can give your pointers once the role play is done.

You must allow your new hires to sink or swim on their own. This would allow you to see their potential.

3. Emphasize that rejection isn’t personal

Sure, rejection hurts. But you must remind your reps they shouldn’t take those rejections personally.

sales role play accept rejections

It would help if some of your discovery role play won’t let a sale happen.

It should be clear to them that not every call ends with conversion and that doesn’t mean they didn’t do their job.

4. Test their listening skills

Listening is one of the most important skills a sales rep should have. They should be able to listen to the words (or even the tone) of the customers.

You can bring up false information or products that don’t even exist in the conversation to see if they’re really listening.

A sales role play is not only excellent for onboarding but can also be a fun activity if done properly.

How to Train Your Team Effectively With Sales Role Playing in 3 Steps

Now, how can you ensure your sales role play interviews are effective?

Marcus Sheridan from 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 the keys to effective sales role playing:

1. Define the role playing scenarios’ objectives

Coming up with an objective is easy. But what we’re trying to achieve here is a well-defined objective for each of your new hires.

For instance, one of your sales development reps named John tends to mumble when he talks. Although his main focus on the job is to convert leads into prospects, you can’t just tell him to “convert this lead into a prospect” in a certain role play scenario.

While that may work at times, you would need more details to create a stronger objective.

You need better-defined objectives. You can tell John, “In this scenario, I want you to verify the lead by using the guidelines we discussed during the training. If you believe they’re a prospect, schedule them for the next call. Make sure you speak loudly and clearly.”

In the objective you gave John, he will have three aims:

  1. Verify the lead
  2. Schedule a call
  3. Try not to mumble his words

This means John would have a clear road map for the scenario.

2. Challenge your reps with real-world scenarios

Your new hires should be prepared before reaching out to the customers. They had to learn the specifics of the person they’re talking to.

Let’s continue John for our example. Now that he knows his aim, it’s time for him to know who he’s talking to.

Your job as a manager is to provide him with a real-life scenario.

For instance, you can tell him, “You’ve been calling Dion, the president of the Eartronics Enterprises, three times now. On the fourth call, he finally agreed to speak with you. From your research, you already know that Eartronics Enterprises is a mid-sized company that sells high-end gaming headphones. Overall, their sales were doing well until the end of last year. A rival firm, Audio Lab Tech, has taken a lot of their market share. One of the possible causes is the lengthy shipping time of the former’s microphone supplier. Our company’s microphones can be delivered in as fast as two weeks, but they’re more pricey than the supplier they’ve been getting their stocks from.”

As you can see, you’ve given the sales rep more information to process. Not to mention this will also be a sort of creativity test for you.

With all these details, John knows what he’s heading into. He’s well-aware of the buyer’s persona, the background, the previous relationship, and the lead’s current situation.

This means he also knows potential discussion points as well as objections.

Lastly, and more importantly, John is now aware of the type of research he needs to do before hopping on a sales call. With this detailed example, he’ll know the specifics he should be looking for in a lead.

3. Provide suggestions instead of telling them they’re wrong

Yes, you might hear your new hires saying wrong things during the role play. However, you shouldn’t be telling them they’re wrong.

Instead, tell them how they could improve their script and coach them on what to do.

When you do this, you will be encouraging less confrontation and more collaboration.

Moreover, you’d help your reps value your suggestion. They’ll acknowledge your feedback and start making the necessary adjustments.

This is especially effective in dealing with strong-willed people in your team who don’t like being told what to do.

Once they’ve studied your feedback, make them play out the scenario again. Make sure you’d focus on only one or two changes.

It might be tempting to rate all the changes, but limiting the scope can help you and the sales rep to clearly see the effects of the changes applied.

Additionally, it can increase the chance of making the behavioral change stick. Changing everything all at once can be overwhelming. What’s even worse is it can result in being ineffective as all their focus would be on changing their approach.

Provide Reps With Leads to Exercise Sales Role Playing

What are reps without leads, right?

Fortunately, LeadFuze got your back when it comes to generating leads for your company. It’s specifically designed to help you build an accurate list of leads for your company.

If you’re looking to build a list of qualified leads, then this ultimate tool for lead generation can help you. You don’t have to look for leads, they will be delivered to you. As a result, your reps can practice their skills which helps in closing the sale.

LeadFuze even allows integration with other sales outreach tools for you to easily reach out to those freshly verified leads.

Conclusion

A sales role play can ensure that everything is running the way you want them to be.

It can also allow you to bond with your sales team, which is important in building good relationships in your company.

You’d be managing all-star reps before you know it!

Editors Note:

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Justin McGill
About Author: Justin McGill
Justin McGill is the Founder of LeadFuze - a lead generation platform that discovers new leads for you automatically. Get 25 leads free.