I am always amazed at the number of ad sales reps that never, ever practice their trade in an effort to improve. Just imagine if Tiger Woods never practiced. Would he be as successful? Probably not. Why did Michael Jordan shoot hundreds of free throws each week? Why do the best actors in Hollywood have acting coaches?
Because being the best requires practice, mentoring and coaching. To get the best ad sales team in your niche, you need to implement regular role play sessions and trainings for your team. This means setting aside time and taking it seriously!
Here are my top 10 ways to improve your role-playing practice:
1. Half-hearted role-playing stinks. Especially when when others treat it a joke. It should never be treated as such. Start role-playing one-on-one in a private office and then move to group role play. You can do it!
2. Create real world scenarios. When you practice create scenarios you encounter out there, not fictional advertising clients who act like idiots. Advertising clients are smart and savvy and you should practice to that.
3. Don’t leave out any steps out of the sales meeting. If you find yourself saying blah-blah as a filler, stop. This is a mini-play rehearsal. Don’t skip anything. Rehearse for real.
4. Create a flow chart. Each step of the sales call has a purpose. Map it out visually and follow the map. Here’s my post The 10 Minute Sales Call if you need a plan of attack or help creating a road map.
5. Find a practice partner that you trust. Practice with someone you respect who will give you quality feedback. This is critical.
6. Be prepared to flop. The first time you role-play it doesn’t all go smoothly. In the very first role-play session, just walk through the steps in a robotic way. This helps get your feet under you and you find your composure. Breathe.
7. Set a schedule. Commit to a schedule of 2x a week for the first two weeks, then once a week for the following two weeks. Graduate to once per month. Don’t stop practicing!
8. Tailor your pitch. As you roll out new products, absolutely develop a practice for them. If you have legacy products that need sales growth, create a practice just for these legacy products.
9. Be prepared for the runaway client. In a role-playing scenario, your partner will normally not take you down the odd rabbit hole like an advertiser might. So, build this type of behavior into your role-play. Don’t be fool around. Build in serious objections, u-turns, issues and road blocks that are applicable and real. You’ll learn to be ready for anything!
10. Have notes. Make sure you have notes to follow until you get it perfect. Be consistent. Don’t just make it up as you go.
BONUS TIP: Record or video the role-playing session. There may be things you are doing that you are not even aware of. Hearing and seeing yourself afterwards can really help you improve your sales approach.
All in all, practice makes perfect……..if you perfect the practice.
More about Ryan Dohrn: Ryan is President of 360 Ad Sales Training, an internet & sales consulting firm focused on developing print and online revenue strategies for magazine publishers.
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