If one of your employees is new at sales or looking for ways to feel more confident making outbound cold calls, this story is for you.
Even though it happened years ago, the memory is still vivid.
It was my first sales job.
Before day one on the job I began reading books about sales to learn as much as possible.
Dozens of well-written books by experienced authors were stacked up on my bookshelf with important sentences underlined and Post-it notes on the pages that seemed most helpful.
But the actual experience of making cold calls was a shock.
The rejection was real and hurtful. (It’s hard not taking rejection personally.)
Not getting positive results from making outbound cold calls was disappointing, to say the least.
It was at that point that I asked myself: “What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I make this work?”
The Thing That Made the Difference.
One experience changed everything:
It started with an announcement from the manager:
“We will have role play this afternoon from 1:00 to 4:30!”
At 1:00 that day, seven other sales reps, plus me, sat in a conference room, around a table – with “an observer.”
The observer was not a manager or a supervisor, but an objective and knowledgeable technician.
He took notes but said nothing until after everyone finished playing the part of sales rep and customer.
We all nervously waited for results.
Would he criticize our mistakes?
Would he comment on our badly worded questions?
Would he ask why someone playing the part of the sales rep did not ask for the sale?
He focused on positive and insightful questions asked by reps playing the part of the sales person.
Whew. What a relief.
What He Did
- He offered suggestions on how sales reps could get better answers from prospects and
- He talked about the importance of listening to the prospects and not interrupting and
- Suggested “needs-based questions” to ask, to find out how the prospect could benefit from our products and services.
This experience and other role play situations made all the difference in understanding the need to not only ask the right questions, but listening carefully and gaining the prospect’s trust. And the best ways to ask for the appointment or sale.
You Will Make a Difference
Do this with your employees or co-workers and you will make a positive difference.
If it is you, you will feel more confident and be more successful making outbound cold sales calls.
When I first began presenting on-site seminars for the BTA in 1994, role-plays were incredibly valuable to raise the comfort and confidence level for sales reps making sales calls. One of the most successful role plays involved three different departments within one company.
How Did This Work and Why Were They So Successful?
I set the rules ahead of time. No one could interrupt during role play, including me.
And they were successful because:
- Sales reps learned from watching and listening to each other,
- They were not critical of each other,
- They discovered new and effective ways to create opening and introductory statements,
- They learned how to ask open-ended questions
- And seamlessly ask for the appointment or order.
Want more ideas about creating a successful role-play situation?
Send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.