June 30, 2016


So you and your company have made the decision to enroll your sales force into a business sales training workshop. That’s great!

Now begins the daunting task of choosing the right kind of sales training for your particular business, specifically one that has been shown to produce results. With the many choices out there, this can seem a tall order indeed. While there are many criteria to consider, one of the most important aspects to any successful training is going to be role playing.

Why is role playing so important? And why is corporate sales training lacking if it isn’t practicing role play?

Avoiding the ‘Nightmare’

You don’t have to be a salesperson to begin to understand the value role playing can have. We have all gone into a store with every intention of making a purchase and encountered terrible salespeople. You ask for help selecting an item, and without making eye contact they tell you they’re busy. You go to another sales person who tells you they’ll be with you in a moment, so you wait. And wait. And wait some more. After a few minutes, discouraged, you leave without spending a single dime. Virtually everyone has a similar story about this kind of poor customer service and despite our best efforts, almost every business can relate to this nightmare scenario. What’s going on here?

Your Own Worst Enemy

For a sales person lacking the insight gained from in-depth customer role play, they are committing self-sabotage without even knowing it. This isn’t necessarily because they are bad at their job or don’t care, they just haven’t stopped to ask themselves some fundamental questions:

  1. What does the customer want?
  2. Why are they here?
  3. How can you help them get what they want?

Corporate sales training that uses role play scenarios will drill down these ideas and show sales people how best to implement them. If you are selling outdoor gear and it’s pouring rain outside, it’s very likely that the customer may want a rain slicker or a similar item. Showing interest in what the customer wants and a sincere desire to help them find it is often the difference between lost revenue and a repeat customer. No amount of glossy displays or variety of stock will matter if a customer doesn’t believe the salesperson is going to help them solve their problem.

Learning by Doing

It is because of this crucial salesperson/customer dynamic that makes role playing such a cornerstone of any effective corporate sales training. The instructor will lead your team in exercises that put them in the shoes of the customer and they will learn to see things from the customers’ perspective. This is an invaluable skill to develop and can be immediately applied in sales scenarios.

Lectures, multimedia and the like can assist, but can’t replicate the hands-on experience gained from simulated face-to-face interactions with potential customers. Your sales force can develop these skills and the lessons learned will be retained and put into practice long after the other materials have been forgotten.

Keep this in mind when choosing your next corporate sales training: without role playing, you’re only getting half the story and missing the chance to develop crucial selling skills in your staff.