Subscribe
Join 40,000+ sales and marketing pros who receive our 4x a week insights, tips, and best practices.
Thank you! You have been subscribed.

Free Guide: The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Strategy Playbook 2022

Read the Guide Subscribe
Join 40,000+ sales and marketing pros who receive our 4x a week insights, tips, and best practices.
Thank you! You have been subscribed.
Learning Center
Learning Center
Close

Learn

Access the Learning Center

Free resources to help you master inbound marketing and They Ask, You Answer

Access the Learning Center

Blog / Newest Insights

Jump straight to the latest inbound marketing and They Ask, You Answer insights

Access the Learning Center

Free and Pro Courses

Take your knowledge to the next level with free and Pro courses inside IMPACT+

Access the Learning Center

Recordings on Demand

On-demand recordings from past IMPACT events and livestreams

Access the Learning Center

Featured

Inbound Strategy Playbook 2022

Learn 7 foundational principles that have proven to set inbound marketing strategies up for success

Access the Learning Center

Free 5 Min. Inbound Marketing Assessment

Take this free assessment and learn what you can start doing today to boost traffic, leads, and sales

Access the Learning Center

Blueprint for a More Profitable Agency

See why coaching, not implementation, is the key to happier clients and better profit margins

Access the Learning Center

Case Studies

See examples of companies working with IMPACT and thriving with They Ask, You Answer

Access the Learning Center
Events
Events
Close
IMPACT+ Membership
IMPACT+ Membership
Close
Services
Services
Close
Navigation_8_2021_taya

They Ask, You Answer Coaching & Training

They Ask, You Answer Coaching & Training
They Ask, You Answer Workshop

They Ask, You Answer Workshop

They Ask, You Answer Workshop
Navigation_8_2021_workshop

Inbound Marketing Services

Inbound Marketing Services
Navigation_8_2021_website design - monitor

Website Design & Development

Website Design & Development
Navigation_8_2021_hubspot implementation

HubSpot Training & Implementation

HubSpot Training & Implementation
Navigation_8_2021_virtual selling

Virtual Sales
Training

Virtual Sales <br>Training
Navigation_8_2021_swell - paid ads

Paid Search & Social Services

Paid Search & Social Services
Become a Certified Coach
Become a Certified Coach
Close
Close
The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Strategy Playbook 2022

Free Guide:

The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Strategy Playbook 2022
Read the Guide
The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Strategy Playbook 2022
Free Inbound Marketing Playbook
View The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Strategy Playbook 2022
The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Strategy Playbook 2022

Free Guide:

Take your inbound strategy to the next level

  • Master the 7 principles of highly effective inbound marketing
  • Dramatically improve your inbound sales
  • Get more buy-in at your company

How to Improve Sales 101: Role-Plays

By Marcus Sheridan

Marcus Sheridan also recommends this free guide: The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Strategy Playbook 2022.

How to Improve Sales 101: Role-Plays Blog Feature

I recently read on another sales blog an article that discussed role-plays and their value in sales training. What shocked me though about the article, as well as some of the comments that followed the article, was the negative feeling many ‘sales professionals’ have toward role-playing as a means of sales training. Frankly, my thoughts upon reading this article were:

WHAT THE @#$@$%  IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE???

Personally, I feel that role-plays are the most under-utilized, as well as the most under-appreciated, sales training tool in the entire sales industry.

Here’s why:

Free Guide: The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Strategy Playbook 2022

About 9 years ago I started working for a swimming pool and hot tub company. As a start-up business, they had hired me(I’ve since become a partner) to be their ‘store manager’, as well as their first official employee. I had done very little sales in my life but I was certainly excited for the challenge….at least I thought I was until the following happened:

My boss at the time, Jim, had only been selling hot tubs a few months himself. He knew very little about the hot tub market and essentially gave me about 10 minutes worth of training on the fly before I was left in the store to fend for myself. Not knowing what to expect, on my first day of ‘flying solo’ I was soon greeted with a gentleman looking for a hot tub. This is a general reenactment of what came next:

Customer (after some brief small talk): Well I’m looking for a new hot tub to replace my Hot Spring.

Me: Oh…Ok….What’s a ‘Hot Spring’?

Customer (with a look of annoyance and befuddlement): It’s only the #1 selling brand of hot tubs in the world. You mean you’ve never heard of them??

Me: (With that “Oh, crap” sensation running through my gut) Well, actually, I’m a little new, but we do have some great hot tubs.

Customer: Well tell me about what makes the jets in your hot tubs special. With our old tub, we had some incredible jets.

Me (sweat starting to build on my forehead and feeling even sicker): Well, I’m not too sure about that. We do have a variety of jets in our tubs though.

Customer (even more annoyed): I’m sure you do…(customer asks a few more questions but by this point my brain has shut down and does not compute anything)….Well, thanks for your time. Have a nice day.

Me (wanting to vomit): Err….You too.

So there was my first taste of sales in a retail situation and as you can clearly see, I got my butt kicked. Essentially, it was like I’d been asked to play in the major leagues but had never played a game of baseball in my life. Yep, it was nothing short of disaster…..or was it?

After the customer left and I was able to turn my brain back on, I came to a few realizations. They were as follows:

  1. I knew nothing about our product.
  2. I knew nothing about our competitors.
  3. I had no idea how to present my product.
  4. I had just lost myself, as well as the company, a lot of money.

These 4 facts really stung me to the core. They were utterly unacceptable and in that moment I made the commitment not to let such a debacle occur again. In fact, in the coming weeks, I spent all my time learning about our product, our competitors, and developing a sales presentation. And what was the tool I used to refine everything I was learning? What was the tool that gave me the confidence I needed to tackle the most advanced of customers?

Role Plays….And LOTS of them.

In fact, every time my boss was in the store and there was a free moment, I’d ask if we could role-play.  I wanted everything I was learning and developing to be a smooth-running machine, fluid in every way. And in a short time, I can honestly say that such a system was developed.  Since that time, role-plays have become a centerpiece of all the sales training in our company. This includes retail and in-home sales.

So my question is: Why do role-plays get a bad rap?

Frankly speaking, the ONLY reason why a role-play for sales training is ineffective is when the person or persons participating aren’t taking them seriously enough. I can assure you that when a role-play is treated as if it were real, and the participants give it their absolute best, then the results will often be nothing short of outstanding and productive.

Tell me, why do sales managers who are “anti role-play” allow their sales people to ‘learn on the fly’?

'Learning on the Fly’ in the sales world is simply a way of losing the individual, and the company, a whole heck of a lot of money by treating customers as guinea pigs.

That first sales presentation disaster (or whatever you’d like to call it) I had could have easily been prevented with the right information, preparation, and training, which is analogous to much of what I see in retail sales environments all over the country. But instead of taking the time to do effective and powerful role-plays with their employees, sales managers and business owners throughout the world allow customers to walk in and out of their stores every day without buying. And all these customers were nothing but a guinea pig for these newer or less-skilled sales people to learn their trade, all of which is preventable. Pretty sad and ridiculous, isn’t it?

So what’s the ultimate goal of role-playing in sales?

If an employee has performed proper role-play training they will almost never be presented with a question, concern, or comment from a customer that they haven’t already received in their training. In other words, they will start the race running. They will come out the gates making money for themselves and their company. And they’ll likely love their job.

Is this statement difficult to achieve? Yes, of course it is which is why people in our industry bemoan the simple idea of role-plays and sales training. But the challenge is worth it. The results speak for themselves. And in a time of economic struggle and hardship, businesses and sales professionals need every possible advantage. Role-playing, without a doubt, is that advantage.

 So what are your thoughts regarding role-playing as a sales training tool? Feel free to share your experiences with this topic and as always, don’t forget to subscribe by email to become part of our sales and marketing community.

The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Strategy Playbook 2022
The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Strategy Playbook 2022

Free Guide:

The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Strategy Playbook 2022

Take your inbound strategy to the next level

  • Master the 7 principles of highly effective inbound marketing
  • Dramatically improve your inbound sales
  • Get more buy-in at your company

Topics:

Sales & Marketing Alignment
Published on January 11, 2010

Recent Articles

How To Align Your Sales And Marketing Teams In 2022
January 20, 2022 • 8 min read
How To Be a Great Subject Matter Expert for Your Content Team
January 13, 2022 • 6 min read
IMPACT+ Free vs. IMPACT+ Pro: What's The Difference?
December 25, 2021 • 7 min read
Sales Enablement Checklist: 5 Questions Marketing Teams Should Regularly Ask Sales Teams
November 30, 2021 • 5 min read
Free Inbound Marketing Courses and Training
November 5, 2021 • 5 min read
What is the Value of a Digital Marketing Consultant?
November 4, 2021 • 6 min read
4 Signs Your Revenue Team Is Slowly Failing
October 23, 2021 • 9 min read
Sales and Marketing Alignment: How To Shorten Your Sales Cycle
September 17, 2021 • 8 min read
Sales and Marketing Friction is Hurting Your Bottom Line – Here’s What to Do About It
May 27, 2021 • 6 min read
How to Get Sales Enablement Content from Your Marketing Team
May 3, 2021 • 5 min read
What Does Almost Every Business Leader Get Wrong About Sales and Marketing Alignment?
April 7, 2021 • 6 min read
What is the purpose of marketing? (updated for 2021)
February 10, 2021 • 8 min read
In a Thriving They Ask, You Answer Company, What Role Should the CEO Play?
January 27, 2021 • 4 min read
Marketing and Sales Alignment When Using HubSpot and Salesforce [Infographic]
January 16, 2021 • 1 min read
Sales goals: 5 costly ways you're leaving money on the table (+ video)
November 27, 2020 • 11 min read
How do I get my old school sales reps to buy in to They Ask, You Answer?
November 18, 2020 • 5 min read
6 most common revenue team meeting problems (and how to fix them)
November 18, 2020 • 11 min read
How to create sales enablement content your sales team will adore
October 5, 2020 • 8 min read
Business leaders, you can't miss HubSpot Training Day! Here's why
September 17, 2020 • 4 min read
Why Should An Inbound Marketing Agency Work With Your Sales Team?
August 21, 2020 • 8 min read
7 common challenges companies face in  They Ask, You Answer Mastery
August 18, 2020 • 5 min read
How the Heck Does They Ask, You Answer Benefit Sales?
August 3, 2020 • 5 min read
Alignment: Why Revenue is the #1 Metric for Sales and Marketing Teams
July 28, 2020 • 7 min read
The marketer's 5-point guide to thriving in a sales environment
July 24, 2020 • 5 min read
Why the They Ask, You Answer philosophy needs to be a full company initiative
July 3, 2020 • 7 min read