Benchmark Business Group

Improving Sales Skills

October 15, 2019

Improving sales skills is a hot topic in the Financial Services industry. There are hundreds of classes and books around the subject, including our own material, which we recommend. Yet, one of the easiest and simplest ways to improve sales skills is often overlooked.

To see the value of it, first think of something that you are a fan of that takes a lot of skill. It could be a professional sport, art, music, or even a craft. Think of a person that has skills in that area. Now, if you wanted the skills of that person, could you just watch them and then do what they do? Would you expect to drastically improve your own skillset by watching them a few times?

The answer is clearly no. Yet when it comes to improving sales skills, that is the exact method that is most universally used. Too often sales is taught by asking someone to shadow a call or appointment and then repeat what they observed without breaking it down into small pieces and then practicing it. Though not popular and even dreaded, role playing is a simple technique to improve sales.

Role playing allows sales associate to practice new skills using sales scripts and engagement techniques. And more importantly, it allows them to get immediate feedback. It allows you to stop the session and immediately go over missed opportunities or better ways of phrasing something that was just said or asked.

If you want to improve sales skills within your office by using role play, consider implementing these tips:

  • Interrupt often! Don’t wait to the end of the role play to give feedback. Think of this as a drill not a practice game. If there’s a missed opportunity or a language suggestion to give, stop the role play and give the feedback. Then give them another opportunity to implement the suggestion. Waiting to the end makes it less memorable with no practice on how to implement the suggestion.
  • Write up scenarios so the person role playing doesn’t have to make the story up on the fly. Draw from real life examples. For instance, you might have a client that is agreeing to everything you say, then at the end objects to price. To make this easier to implement and to systemize your training experience, create a cheat sheet for the person training. The cheat sheet should have actual objections, questions and language examples that prospects have used in the past.
  • Role play the same thing multiple times. Sales skills is about achieving muscle memory. Use the same scenarios or objections multiple times and role play them until they become natural. Just make sure they are realistic.
  • Break it into small sessions. There’s a lot to be learned and time is precious. Don’t feel like you have to role play an entire sales process at once. Take 10 minutes and role play just objections. Take 15 minutes and go over their personal introduction a few times. Or do a 20-minute lunch session where you ask questions a client would likely ask. Breaking it into small sessions helps make it easier to give feedback and easier to learn. There are a lot of skills to learn so do quick bursts multiple times throughout a day.
  • Don’t stop! Role play is a learning technique that should never stop. It is fundamental training that any new, or seasoned, sales person can benefit from. Even Vince Lombardi introduced the oddly shaped pigskin at the beginning of every season by saying, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” It never hurts to go over the basics.

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