You won’t encounter an industry that doesn’t contain some form of onboarding. Whether it’s shadowing a manager, or watching hours of videos, training plays a crucial role in success. But in the dog-eat-dog industry that is sales, a good company will invest countless dollars and hours to ensure that their new employees are equipped with the proper tools needed to adapt quickly to their new role.
While there are hundreds of sales training methods, there’s one that is constantly up for debate—role-playing. Is it antiquated? What if the new hire doesn’t feel comfortable? Does it really offer any value? The list of qualms seems to stretch a mile long. In an effort to squash the discussion once and for all, we asked our Inside Sales Manager, Michael Campanile, to weigh in on the subject.
“We absolutely use role play as part of our sales training,” says Campanile. “In fact, in the last year, we’ve hired over 50 sales trainees, and every single one of them has not only taken part of the role-playing technique, but have also greatly benefited from it.”
What is role-playing?
Role-playing is defined as acting out the part of a particular person or character. For example, as a technique in training or psychotherapy. In this instance, our trainees rehearse multiple scenarios in which they are both the prospect and caller, to help them navigate the murky waters of a real sales call.
How is role-playing valuable?
It builds confidence.
When it comes to selling, feeling uncomfortable is a common theme. From numerous objections to difficult personalities, you’re bound to find yourself in a few hairy situations. While building confidence does come with time and familiarity, role-playing exposes trainees to these situations from the get-go, and prepares them for various scenarios.
It improves communication skills.
Let’s face it: you can’t sell without being an active listener. Too many times a salesperson speaks over a prospect and loses the deal before it can even begin. Role-playing helps to develop and improve listening skills. By rehearsing a scenario, trainees are able to read into a situation more than they would during a live call.
It promotes teamwork.
Surprisingly, teamwork plays a large role in a successful sales setting. Not only do salespeople feed off of each other’s energy, but the friendly-camaraderie can be a large motivator. Having trainees partake in role-playing can help build positive relationships early in their career, and increase their ability to problem solve in a group setting.
While there will never be one catchall sales training method, our sales department can certainly attest to role-playing being a valuable tool.