Perfect Practice Makes Perfect Sales
Vince Lombardi, the famous football coach, used to say, “Football is about blocking and tackling. The team that blocks and tackles better than their opponent will probably win the game.” Translation, stick to the basics and practice, practice, practice. But DON’T practice in front of the customer. Just like a football team doesn’t hone its craft in front of a packed stadium, your salespeople need to practice out of the limelight. Role-playing is the easiest and most effective way to practice and build confidence. It gives salespeople the risk-free opportunity to develop their selling skills within the guidelines of your sales process (assuming you have one!).
Our Attic Systems dealers have found that regularly scheduled role-playing of our sales process is the single most effective way they’ve experienced to improve the performance of their salespeople. Our process has scripts for every step of interaction with the customer, from how to book appointments and make confirmation calls, to multiple strategies to help close sales. Each week during sales meetings, 35 – 45 minutes is dedicated to role-playing specific steps and scripts in the sales process. Salespeople know in advance which steps will be reviewed and are assigned “homework” to be fully prepared for these sessions. If you want to improve your sales results (who doesn’t?), role-playing is a key component for your home performance business.
We share the following tips with all our dealers to help them implement role-playing as an integral part of their sales meeting:
Five Role-Playing Tips
1. Create a Safe Environment
Role-playing tends to be an uncomfortable thing for most of us. So be sure your role-playing exercises are done in a quiet place free from distractions and away from anyone not participating in the activity. There must be someone assigned responsibility to be the facilitator. The facilitator must create an environment of positivity and support. Role-playing IS NOT a test. It IS an opportunity to learn, grow, and expand skills. If salespeople feel there is no risk, they will give their best effort and will learn. If they don’t feel safe, they will simply go through the motions to complete the task and then revert to their habits as soon as they leave your sessions.
2. Define the “Rules”
Make sure that everyone knows that everyone participates in each role-play. Even if they are not the salesperson or the customer, they are to observe and be ready to provide helpful observations and input after each session. Feedback and observations should be positive and supportive. If it turns negative or critical, the ‘safe’ environment no longer exists and you will see your team shut down.
3. The Facilitator must enforce the “Rules”
It is up to you and the facilitator to ensure everyone stays focused on the task and within the ‘rules’; If someone gets critical or a role player does not stay ‘inside the lines’ of the session, you must step in immediately to keep the session going in the right direction.
4. Start Easy to Cement the Basics
You can’t learn basic blocking skills if the defense is blitzing on every play. Allow your salespeople to refine the exact language and techniques without trying to trip them up. The primary purpose of role-playing isn’t to see how well your salespeople think on their feet. It is to give them a safe and supporting environment where they can learn, practice, and refine your sales process.
5. Debrief . . . with kindness and support
At the end of each role-play, ask the salesperson what they felt went well, and what they could change the next time. Do not let the salesperson be too self-critical. Ask the ‘customer’ what the salesperson did that was helpful, and ONE suggestion for improvement. Then, ask the group what they liked best about the performance and for one thing that they think might help the salesperson. The facilitator should then choose one suggestion for the salesperson to try and repeat the exercise as many times as needed until there is a noticeable improvement in performance.
Consider including role-playing in every sales meeting as a way to keep your team ‘blocking and tackling’. Your win/loss record will surely get better and each of your salespeople will understand that working together as a team will only make each individual a better performer.
Marc Tannenbaum is the President of Attic Systems
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