Just Do It: Sales Role-Play Works!

You’re zipping through the sales meeting, plenty to report on, (which is great) and then glancing at your texts on your smart phone under the table because your sales manager is about to wrap it all up. Then all of a sudden she says, “Time to role-play!” Groan, Ugh. Groan.

Why is role-playing important?

Most salespeople dread role-playing. Yet to be the best ad salesperson in your niche you need to incorporate regular practice sessions into your schedule. Take the initiative and set aside time for it. Sales Coach Ryan Dohrn shares some ways to improve on what you are doing now. To be your best in the real-world, read on!

First steps

Ryan has coached thousands of salespeople and their managers about role-playing. The key is to take it seriously. Practice to prospects with serious objections and issues that you really encounter.

Start sales role-playing one-on-one and then as you become more confident, move to group role-play. Next, try these steps to improve your practice. Prepare beforehand.

  • Create a flow chart with each step of your typical sales call.  Map it out visually and then follow the map as you practice.
  • Re-create real-world scenarios that you actually encounter when making calls, both in person and on the phone.
  • Don’t imagine fictional advertisers, focus instead on the different personality types of prospects you encounter.
  • Practice to a client that is smart, savvy and has tons of questions.
  • Anticipate the runaway client that takes you down the odd rabbit hole, (like a real advertiser might), and build this into your role-play.

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Don’t leave out any steps. If you find yourself saying blah-blah as a filler, stop. Start over at the beginning. Rehearse for real.
  • Do practice with someone you respect who will give you quality feedback.
  • Do be prepared to screw up. Role-play doesn’t always go smoothly, that’s why it’s a practice.
  • Do the initial walkthrough in a robotic way. This helps you find your composure.
  • Do set a schedule and commit to 2x a week for the first two weeks, for example. Then once a week for awhile, then graduate to once a month.  Never stop practicing!

Continue to update and customize

As you roll out new products, absolutely develop a practice just for them. If you have legacy products that need some sales growth, create a role-play just for these legacy products. Conversely, if you know you have a weak area of expertise, use role-play to practice until you sound confident about it.

Finally, make sure you have notes to follow until you get it perfect. Be consistent. Don’t just make it up as you go. If you stay committed to regular role-play and dedicate yourself to it, you’ll learn to be ready for anything. You will also have the confidence to deal with it.

Bonus tip: Yet another way to improve is to 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.



More about Ryan: Ryan Dohrn is an award winning sales coach and offers sales training to thousands of sales executives each year. He is also an international motivational speaker and the author of the best selling sales book, Selling Backwards. Ryan is the President and founder of Brain Swell Media, a boutique sales training and sales coaching firm with a detailed focus on sales training and coaching for media and technology companies. He is also the owner and Publisher of SalesTrainingWorld.com an online portal for sales training success.


About this blogger: Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Niche Media. A former sales director and corporate marketing hack, she has now found nirvana in writing and wrangling quality content. Diana is a food, wine, art and SF Giants enthusiast…who sometimes gets carried away.


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