ust as athletes train to perform at their best during practices, so should your sales team. This is where sales role-playing comes in — it’s a crucial and valuable tool with a high learning rate. To help ensure your team’s success, we rounded up five of the best sales role-playing scenarios that provide a low-stakes opportunity to identify strengths and weaknesses among your sales reps.
5 Effective Sales Role-Playing Scenarios
1. Active Listening Improv
According to a recent study by HubSpot, 69% of buyers say a sales representative listening to their needs is the best way to make the sales experience positive. In order to tailor a specific sales approach to a prospective client, active listening — not just hearing — is key.
This exercise will require at least two people and can also be done with a group. Here’s how it works:
- One person begins by making a statement. To test direct knowledge of products and services, we suggest providing guidelines to keep the statements in line with your business.
- The next person in line must begin their statement by using the last three words from the previous person’s sentence.
- Keep going until everyone in the group has had a turn. If you’re working with just two individuals, set a specified amount of time for the exercise.
This twist on “telephone” requires the sales reps to listen to each other before speaking, which can help get them out of “script” mode.
2. The Stuck Prospect
The term “ghosting” doesn’t just apply to personal relationships. In sales, prospective clients will drop off without warning, take weeks to reply, or continually prolong signing contracts. Stalled deals cost time and money, so your team needs to acknowledge when to press the prospect and find solutions or move on to a new lead.
This exercise will involve two people: the salesperson and the “stuck prospect.” Here’s how it works:
- The stuck prospect will select a stalled behavior to exhibit (i.e. calling to reschedule a demo, asking for contract changes, showing up after a few weeks, etc.).
- Write down the reason the prospect is stalling on a piece of paper (i.e. budget cuts, change in management, etc.), and encourage the person to act realistically with emotional responses.
- The salesperson should ask strategic questions to determine why the prospect is being elusive or noncommittal and navigate whether they should move forward.
- Continue this exercise until everyone on the team has had a chance to participate.
Don’t forget to review each salesperson’s responses and discuss what went well or could be improved.
3. Objection Hot Seat
Knowing how to overcome objections and turn the conversation around can mean the difference between a lost prospect and a sale.
Have your team come prepared with common objections they’ve heard during their calls for this exercise. Here’s how it works:
- Randomly select one salesperson to go first and pitch one of the common objections.
- Allot a certain amount of time for the rep to respond (i.e. five seconds) with a sufficient answer that moves the conversation in a positive direction. (Whether their answer is sufficient should be determined by the sales leader.)
- If the rep can overcome the objection, they select the next person to be put in the “hot seat.” If they are unable to give a proper response, discuss how the rep could improve, then try the exercise with them again.
- Repeat the role-playing exercise until everyone on the team has been in the hot seat.
Make sure each objection and response is unique to help your team sharpen their skills.
4. The Angry Customer
Every so often sales reps will encounter angry or unhappy customers. While it can be easy to go on the defensive, it’s vital to remain calm.
This role-playing exercise is great for helping your sales team polish their active listening and customer services skills while teaching them to seek out mutually beneficial solutions. One person will act as the angry customer, and the other the salesperson. Here’s how it works:
- The “angry customer” will address a negative situation they have been dealing with (i.e. waiting a long time for delivery, incorrect order, untimely responses from a salesperson, etc.). Encourage the angry customer to put pressure on the sales rep.
- The salesperson should attentively listen to figure out the root of the issue, make sure the customer knows they are being heard, and figure out a proper solution (i.e. offer a coupon, discount, etc.).
- Run through the scenario until it’s played out, then reverse the roles.
Each member of your team must know company policies and procedures so they are equipped to steer the conversation in the right direction.
5. Difficult Negotiations
Negotiating is a tactical challenge for many sales representatives, especially if they are new. Add on the stress of working with a difficult buyer, and the stakes increase.
Here’s how the role-playing scenario works:
- There should be one person acting as a “difficult buyer” and another as the sales rep.
- The difficult buyer will choose a few behaviors to exhibit throughout the role-play (i.e. frequently interrupting, absurd demands, all-or-nothing ultimatums, etc.).
- Run a typical negotiation between the difficult buyer and salesperson for about 10 minutes.
- After the exercise, discuss what went well and give specific areas of improvement to the rep, then have them switch.
Gaining practice in dealing with challenging personalities will help ease nerves when a real situation arises.
When implementing these sales role-playing scenarios, keep in mind to set specific objectives for each salesperson based on performance. When setting the objective, also keep in mind that it’s best practice to phrase any feedback in terms of opportunities for the person to improve, rather than offer criticism for something they’re doing right or wrong.