5 Tips to Make Role Plays More Valuable
Categories: Sales Productivity
Role plays can play an important role in your ability to execute great sales conversations. They ensure you aren’t practicing your sales message in front of the customer. They allow you to test your agenda/question flow for gaps and prepare ways to pivot based on how the customer responds. When role plays are executed correctly, they provide valuable takeaways for everyone involved. Here are some best practices to ensure role plays are worth your time.
1. Prepare your partner
The more real the role-playing experience, the greater its value. A knowledgeable participant is going to present a real setup and real obstacles that are more natural for you to practice. Make sure the person playing the buyer has fluency about the deal and direction on what to ask or answer, so they can play the role effectively.
Using what you know and/or don’t know in your deal so far and your prepared agenda for the actual meeting, build out a “buyer brief” that you can share with your colleague to help them understand the role of the buyer and background on the deal. To ensure you can practice your conversation in the most relevant way possible, your “buyer brief” should help your partner know key components of the deal, including established negative consequences, positive business outcomes, metrics and required capabilities. Make sure they’re also prepared on the objectives and outcomes of the call, as well as any challenging parts of the conversation you want to practice. Build your buyer brief accordingly so you can practice active listening and being audible-ready or flexible to respond. If you can't prepare your colleague well enough for a role play or build out a sufficient buyer brief — that's a red flag. Consider doing further discovery with your buyer or going back to step one and recapping what you heard more effectively.
2. Stay in line with the logistics of your call
Different environments have different requirements for successful conversations so it’s important to make sure that you do role plays in a way that will mirror your actual conversation, when possible. For example, if you’re having a meeting with your prospect over the phone, practice your role play over the phone. Practicing in a real simulation will help you pick up on these little details that you might have missed in your preparation and allow you to adjust before you get to the real thing.
This added touch to preparation may seem small, but remember, there’s as much differentiation in how you sell as there is in what you sell. Professionalism is a minimum expectation your buyers have, and you’d be surprised how many salespeople skip simple steps — and regret it later, because they weren’t as prepared, and therefore, as professional, as they could have been. See how well you’re able to move beyond your competition just by taking these extra steps.
3. Be a stickler with timing
Make your role plays concise and highly impactful for yourself by sticking to the same schedule you’ll have for your actual conversation. How many times have you been certain you’ll be able to fit your entire agenda in a conversation, just to miss out on solidifying key points because you ran out of time? A role play is your opportunity to avoid that outcome and ensure you can accomplish exactly what you need to during your actual conversation.
If you only have a short time scheduled with your buyer, let your role play partner know the time limits of the conversation. One idea may be to have your role play partner attempt to stop the conversation, in a way that your buyer might if you start to go over time. Executing the conversation in this way can help you see where you can simplify your agenda to account for the amount of time you’ll have. Practicing with the correct timing also helps you prepare a seamless close that can help you make sure when you get to the actual call you can achieve your objectives and solidify next steps before the conversation ends.
4. Ask for feedback, and use it to your advantage
The most elite athletes get to where they are, not just by skill, but by their ability to grow from constructive feedback. Take a lesson from their playbook. Be sure, the person giving your feedback shares not only what you could improve on, but also how to improve on it. Ask for specific, actionable feedback that you can use in your sales conversation. For example, if after a role play your manager tells you to add more open-ended questions to trap your buyer around your solution’s differentiation, have them run through their process of how they would come up with those specific questions and how and where they would add them to their agenda.
If you don’t understand something or are unsure how to execute on a piece of advice they gave you, always ask your manager to clarify. Your ultimate goal should be to use their feedback to make a bigger impact in your real sales conversation. If you don’t understand something they’re telling you to do, you can’t execute. If you’re working for a great company, your manager is focused on helping you, so always, ask for clarification and examples when you need it.
5. Things to look for when participating in a role play
Running through role plays with other people on your sales team gives you the ability to learn different techniques, steal some of their secret sauce, and improve your knowledge of your buyer, industry, and sales organization. You may find yourself giving your own feedback after watching someone’s role play. Here are a few things to look for in a well-executed role play.
- Does the seller open with a purpose and clear agenda, and gain agreement on those points?
- Is the “buyer” able to play their role well or do you think the seller could have provided more detail/background knowledge?
- At the beginning and when applicable, does the seller clearly state what they already understand about the opportunity?
- Are the seller’s discovery questions moving the conversation toward their end goal (uncovering critical buying criteria, securing a meeting with other decision makers, etc.)?
- Does the seller listen effectively to buyer responses and validate what they hear?
- How clear and concise is the close? Did the seller state the next steps to move forward?
If you’re a seller, consider these questions when building out your agenda and assessing your own role play. Use them to refine your approach.
More Tips You Can Immediately Apply to Your Live Opportunities
Our podcast, The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast, aims to share key insights and tips to help salespeople execute and close premium deals, repeatedly. In one of our most popular episodes, long-time sales veteran and Force Management Senior Partner, Frank Azzolino, shares how he prepares for successful sales conversations in a way that propels his deals forward efficiently. A lot of his tips align and expand on these, you may find them valuable as you prepare to execute on upcoming conversations. Tune in here.