Want to improve your sales reps’ selling skills? Here are five things you can do to role-play effectively and get the results you want.

For many salespeople, role-playing is not a priority. However, actors, athletes and musicians all practice their craft – a lot. The best one’s practice (role-play) constantly to improve their performance. Why shouldn’t salespeople?

As a sales manager, you may struggle with facilitating role-plays with your sales reps. Here are five things I’ve found that work very well to help your salespeople improve their selling skills through role-playing.

1. MemorizationDid your sales rep have the content memorized?
Every word of a sales call does not need to be scripted. However, there are phrases, statements and questions that should be. Good salespeople are collectors of good words, phrases and questions to improve their interactions. During your role plays, coach your salespeople to memorize ready-to-use phrases that lift the quality of their conversation.

For example, memorize the three best responses to a particular objection. Memorize a great elevator speech. Develop and memorize 3-5 qualifying questions to ask on every first appointment.

2. MeaningDid your sales rep change words that affected meaning?
A common issue with salespeople when they memorize a script or phrase is to put it into their own words. To them, they want to make it sound natural. This is fine as long as the words they choose don’t change the meaning. Be ware of this during your role plays.

For example, when meeting a prospect for the first time, a good phrase is: “My goal is to find out if we can be of service.” Some salespeople will change it to: “My goal is to show you how we can be of service.”

In the first statement, the word “if” promotes a customer-focused, non-threatening tone. In the second statement, the tone changes to a self-focused tone. The meaning changes by replacing “if” with “show”. As a result, the focus of the conversation shifts from the prospect to the sales rep, thereby reducing the sales rep’s credibility.

3. SpeedDoes your sales rep talk too fast?
The rate of speech a sales rep uses says a lot about their level of confidence. Nervous sales reps talk too fast and tend to slur their words.

During your role plays using new scripts, start your sales reps out by having them slow their rate of speech down slower than normal. You wan them to annunciate each word. Clear communication is an essential of professional selling. As time goes on, they can increase their rate of speech, but never so much they devalue what they say by speaking too quickly.

When a salesperson reads a script without practice, it can sound staccato – choppy and scripted. (Think telemarketers calling you at dinner time). Your goal is to get them to slow down and deliver their words smoothly. This invokes a more confident tone. Yes, they can speed up, especially when speaking with extroverts who are naturally impatient. However, the goal here is to never speak so fast as to diminish the perceived value of what is being said.

4. InflectionDoes your sales rep know which words to emphasize in a statement or question?
This really becomes the “art” of communication. Being aware of not only what you say, but how you say it, is a key indicator of a successful salesperson.

In your role plays, when you practice with your sales rep prior to their sales call, listen for key statements and identify specific words within those statements to be accented. Here are a few suggestions: opening statement when greeting the buyer, qualifying questions, statements to handle objections and when asking for the sale. Each of these should be practiced in order to be delivered smoothly and confidently with the right phrasing, tone and inflection.

5. ContinuityDoes your sales rep’s words and phrases fit logically within the conversation?
Be sure that when your sales rep uses the scripted parts of the dialogue, they use them within the right context. Too often, inexperienced sales reps will use their pre-prepared questions or statements when they do not flow logically within the conversation. They focus more on what they are going to say instead of listening to the buyer and responding appropriately.

The scripted words and phrases are designed to be anchor points along the way – not the dialogue itself. Wrongly placed questions or statements can quickly erode trust and your sales reps’ credibility. Practice continuity when preparing your sales rep for their sales calls. Make suggestions when certain words or phrases will be appropriate and when they won’t.

Look at scripting as a means to use great words to communicate ideas, uncover information and elevate the quality of the buying experience for the prospect. Effective and consistent role-playing will quickly elevate your sales rep’s conversations that yield more appointments and increased sales.

 

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