B2B sales is tough. Every day is a grind in its own way. It takes persistence, dedication, an ability to adapt and maybe most importantly, a never give up attitude. There are all kinds of great tips about cold calling, how to sell effectively, solution selling ,VITO, BANT, sales strategy, researching targets and the list goes on. What I have found is not often written about is the value of B2B sales role-playing, particularly for newer sales people.
My first time role-playing (was way back in 1993 or 1994 during University. I ran a summer painting business with Student Works Painting for a number of summers and part of the training was role-playing a cold call and general customer interaction. On a side note, I think if you are in University and looking for a “real” sales experience and an opportunity to flex your entrepreneurial muscles, running a painting franchise or something similar is a great way to learn in a well supported environment.
If you have ever role played, you know that it can be very uncomfortable. The interesting thing is that despite how uncomfortable it is, it is an amazing way to not only understand your messaging but also refine your pitch. Running through various scenarios with various objections is great experience. It prepares you for the call and practicing role-playing over and over again until you are comfortable with the products and services you are selling will make your efforts on closing much more effective. It also teaches you how to be flexible in your conversational approach to prospects and how to be fluid. Not every call is the same and the last thing you want to do is sounds like a robot.
Role-playing practice can be done during formal team training sessions but it can also be done informally during one on one meetings with your sales team. The benefit of the first is that sales reps can share their experiences and how they handled certain conversations. The benefit of the latter is that each target market or solution being sold may have nuances to it and the one on one role-playing allows for much more refinement.
My recommendation is that despite how daunting it can seem and how uncomfortable it can be, role-playing is a vital tool for:
- New sales people
- Sales reps learning a new product or solution
- Entrepreneurs starting a company as you will be your biggest salesperson
Part of me wants to say that really everyone in an organization should have to do it – marketing, finance, legal, human resources, engineering….I think it would give people a better appreciation for the role of salespeople, but also allow for improved product knowledge and more conversational and problem solving flexibility. What I find is interesting is that everything in a for-profit company starts with the sale, so everyone involved in any piece of that should have some ability to help sell and upsell customers. Every customer interaction is an opportunity to increase stickiness, improve customer satisfaction and drive more sales.
Good luck with your role-playing and drop me a note at any time to discuss how we do it and how you could do it within your organization.
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