Virtual selling may have your team reaching for the panic button – customers are different, technology is changing by the minute, and competition is as stiff as ever. When a marketplace changes so dramatically, sales leadership so too must change/adapt and prepare for sales calls in an entirely different manner.
While sales role-playing is often met with apprehension and dread – if done well – it can help your sales reps practice and master communication skills required of remote selling and navigate the continually changing requirements (and restrictions) of selling virtually. Unfortunately, most salespeople approach the exercise with a gallows like resolve and this limits the opportunity to get the real transformative benefits that a virtual role-play can produce.
5 Tips for Successful Virtual Sales Role-Plays:
It’s time that we change our tune about the dreaded sales role-play! As the sales manager, it is your responsibility to push for this shift. So how can you lead your sales team to (happily) practice the necessary sales skills for virtual success when participating in virtual role plays? Below are 5 fool-proof tips and tricks:
- Identify Expectations
Make sure that your sales team is clear about the goal of the virtual role-play! Keep your objectives simple and specific: Are you hoping to work on-screen presence? Familiarizing yourself with the video platform? Discussing a new product or feature? Be crystal clear with your reps and stay focused on the primary goal in your feedback as the manager.
- Create a Safe Environment
By definition, role-playing is an experimentation in new behavior and action. Meaning it is of the utmost importance to create a safe (virtual) space for your team to confidently experiment with new skills – meaning you may need to remove your ‘manager’s hat.’ Salespeople learn the most about themselves – the good and the bad – if they are allowed to take risks and make mistakes, so give them the opportunity to do so.
- Get Specific!
Giving your team more specific circumstances will help to ground them in the “reality” of the role-play environment. It gives them something truly concrete to focus on so that they don’t feel panicked (or embarrassed). So instead of vague instructions like, “You’re meeting with a distrusting customer,” get specific! For example:
“A prospect shows great interest in [insert product/service], but they have continuously shown distrust of the entire sales team. It becomes clear to you that they simply lack the technical knowledge required to make an informed decision. How would you proceed?” GO!
- Help Play the Part
Take a moment to remind your sales team to focus on the scenario, the circumstances, and the objective of the role-play. Some questions to have them consider include: When is this conversation taking place? Who is present on the virtual call? What is your relationship to the prospect? Salespeople playing the role of the prospect should also ask questions relevant to the circumstance. For example: What do you want or expect out of this meeting? How much do you know (or likely, don’t know) about the product or service? Truly playing the part is extremely helpful in giving confidence and getting the role-play off to a more natural start.
- It’s All in the Feedback
As the manager, your feedback has weight. Having already set up goals for the role-play, be sure that your feedback doesn’t stray too far from those goals. Remember also that you set out to create a safe environment, so do keep comments constructive. When taking risks, reps are likely to make mistakes – and that’s okay! Start by asking your team how they think they did, what observations they made, and what they would do differently.
While your sales team may not ever learn to love role-plays, they may learn to like them – or at least, appreciate them as they begin to feel more prepared, empowered, and confident on video sales calls. Your leadership is an essential component of your team’s success, so lead by example.
These tips are a great starting point.
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