November 05, 2017
Are you looking for how to improve sales for your store? In this article, I look at role-playing in five fundamental ways.
I’m writing this right after the Astros prevailed over the Dodgers in the World Series.
Pundits are still calling it the best series ever.
How did these two teams get to play at such a high level where so many failed?
Everything had been practiced over and over again, beginning during Spring Training and continuing up to batting practice right before game seven.
The stakes were too high for any player to wing it.
Nothing was left to chance.
I thought about that as it relates to brick and mortar retail.
So much work goes into the right location, the right product selection, the right merchandising.
Yet where you would think every nanosecond of the selling process would be trained to create an exceptional experience, and every step scrutinized for a shopper’s reactions, that detail work is totally missing.
Everything is left to chance….and then the retailer blames Amazon.
It’s like the retailer decided to start a baseball team, hired anyone who could come to a game, expected the players to bring their own bats and gloves, and then held them accountable for winning the game.
If you want to improve sales and increase conversions, you have to include role play scenarios in your sales training so employees can practice until they master the concepts.
I was recently at a trade show and I went around to various booths to see if I could write about their new products.
Almost without exception, each person in the booth was rehearsed on what their product was but were not trained to connect the dots as to why someone would use it, or who the best customer was for their product solution, or how to engage the passersby.
It was almost like they were saying, we have this cake. It’s made of flour and sugar. It’s great.
No relevance to who would want the cake, how that cake competed against the other bakeries, or what the customer received by buying that cake.
The nanosecond sales training just isn’t there for many brands and stores. You have to hire better and give them the training like my SalesRX.com but that’s only a start…
In the baseball world it’s called practicing, in the sales world we call it roleplaying.
It is the one training area many retailers are oblivious to, or struggle with, or have given up on.
That’s a mistake because the more role-playing your team has under their belt, the less likely they’ll sell from their own wallet, give bad customer service, or be stymied by some of the more margin-improving retail sales techniques like adding-on.
The 5 Fundamentals Of Sales Role Play
Write it out. Sales role play works best when it is incremental, so make sure your sales process has step-by-step clarity so it can easily be broken into bite-sized elements. That way you don’t skip over anything as you come up with your role-playing scenarios.
Make it fun. This is just play acting. The stakes are low when it is just you and the employee provided you’ve taught them well. But many will be afraid of making a fool of themselves, so make sure you do the first few exercises totally away from shoppers. The environment you create should be fun, so if you are trying to teach my Windows of Contact, put on a scuba mask when you are roleplaying so they laugh at the prop but understand the concept. The old saw what we learn with pleasure we never forget is still true.
Establish goals. Do you want them to notice a customer’s reaction? Say something new? Walk to a certain part of the store? Role playing works best to isolate one aspect you taught them. Then come up with various scenes that provide gradually harder or more complex situations.
Encourage collaboration. There are no right sales roleplaying ideas. You want as many different examples and scenarios as you have shoppers. Role-playing is a great chance to get your other associates involved with your retail sales training, so encourage them to come up with scenarios. Role play a couple coming into your store after seeing a movie and are still chatting about it, or a guy just broke his wife’s favorite dish, or a young adult is about to go on a job interview. Then have employees come up with other ideas, give them to another employee to roleplay with a second associate.
Reconstruct good and bad sales. Once your crew is used to role-playing, unpacking sales that were missed or were made is an excellent way for associates to do even better the next time. To make it work, you become the original salesperson and the original salesperson re-enacts what the shopper said and did. You have to be up for the challenge and open to failure yourself as sometimes there was nothing you could add. This exercise allows both of you a chance to look for alternate ways to engage the shopper. Remember, it isn’t about being right or wrong as much it’s about exploring options.
The goal when coaching your staff is for your salespeople to show they understand your retail sales process and how to keep the conversation going. After your role play, you both can unpack what went right and what could have been done better. This way you train their brains to look for alternatives and not shut down.
One caveat…beware of kill the leader. When you ask associates to help you role play, make sure they aren’t trying every single time to trip up the person acting as the salesperson. It will just dishearten the learner and unleash a meanness to your training.
That said, as they get more comfortable with role play, instruct your actors to not be pushovers but to be a bit off-putting or demanding. When they seem like they have your process down pat, make sure when the person asks for the sale, your actor simply says No.
Role-playing never gets old…checkout this video recap:
See also, How to Conquer Your Selling Fears
Rejection is expected in selling and more advanced retail sales role playing can help even your newest part-timer learn how to welcome it.
If you don’t have a clear step-by-step sales process, roleplay will be difficult.
That’s why before you jump onboard with these sales role-playing tips, you should explore my online retail sales training program SalesRX.com. The clear instruction and bite-sized lessons have helped one retailer increase business 25%, another increase average check by 50%, and a regional franchisee had a record three stores named best in franchise history of 1600 locations.
One final role play tip - when the scene is over, before you give feedback, ask the associate what they could have done better. That’s where the real learning takes place – not you telling them but them connecting the dots and coming to the learning from a new place.
Use these five fundamentals of retail sales role play and hit your sales out of the park.