Practice Makes Perfect Sales


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Vince Lombardi, the famous football coach, used to say, “Football is about blocking and tackling. The team that blocks and tackles better than their opponent will probably win the game.”  Translation, stick to the basics and practice, practice, practice.  But DON’T practice in front of the customer. Just like a football team doesn’t hone its craft in front of a packed stadium, your sales people need to practice out of the limelight. Role-playing is the easiest and most effective way to practice and build confidence. It gives sales people the risk-free opportunity to develop their selling skills within the guidelines of your sales process (assuming you have one!).

Many Contractors find that regularly scheduled role playing is the single most effective way they’ve experienced to improve the performance of their sales people.  Having scripts for every step of interaction with the customer, from how to book appointments and make confirmation calls, to multiple strategies to help close sales will help ensure more sales and higher profits.  Each week during sales meetings, 35 – 45 minutes should be dedicated to role playing specific steps and scripts in the sales process.  Sales people know i advance of the meetings which steps will be reviewed and are assigned “homework” to be fully prepared for these sessions.  If you want to improve your sales results (who doesn’t!) role playing is a key component for your home performance business.

5 Role-Playing Tips

1. Create a Safe Environment

Role playing tends to be an uncomfortable thing for most of us.  So be sure your role playing exercises are done in a quiet place free from distractions and away from anyone not participating in the activity.  There must be someone assigned the responsibility to be the facilitator.  The facilitator must create an environment of positivity and support.  Role playing IS NOT a test.  It IS an opportunity to learn, grow and expand skills.  If sales people feel there is no risk, they will give their best effort and they will learn.  If they don’t feel safe, they will simply go through the motions to complete the task and then revert back to their habits as soon as they get away from your sessions.

2. Define the “Rules”

Make sure that everyone knows that everyone participates in each role play.  Even if they are not the sales person or the customer, they are to observe carefully and be ready to provide helpful observations and input after each session.  Feedback and observations should be positive and supporting. If it turns negative or critical, the “safe” environment no longer exists and you will see your team shut down.

3. The Facilitator must enforce the “Rules”

It is up to you to the facilitator make sure everyone stays focused on the task and within the “rules.” If someone gets critical, or a role player does not stay inside the lines of the session, you must step in immediately to keep the session going in the right direction.

4. Start Easy to Cement the Basics

You can’t learn basic blocking skills if the defense is blitzing on every play.  Give your sales people the opportunity to refine the exact language and techniques without trying to trip them up.  The primary purpose of role play isn’t to see how well your sales people think on their feet, it is to give them a safe and supporting environment where they can learn, practice, and refine your sales process.

5. Debrief . . . with kindness and support

At the end of each role play, ask the sales person what they felt went well, and what they could change the next time.  Do not let the sales person be too self-critical.  Ask the “customer” what the sales person did that was helpful, and for ONE suggestion for improvement.  Then ask the group what they liked best about the performance and for one thing that they think might help the sales person.  Then, the facilitator should choose one suggestion for the sales person to try and repeat the exercise as many times as is needed until there is a noticeable improvement in performance.

Consider including role playing in every sales meeting as a way to keep your team “blocking and tackling.” Your win/loss record will surely get better and each of your sales people will understand that working together as a team is will only make each individual a better performer.

Marc Tannenbaum

Posted In: Building Performance, Residential Buildings, Sales & Marketing

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