How Sales Training Simulations Uncover Live Roleplay Shortcomings

In virtually every profession, people practice. It doesn’t matter if you’re a golfer, doctor, or attorney — they all practice. And they take the process very seriously because, after all, practice makes perfect. What I’ve noticed, however, is that most salespeople don’t practice. 

Don’t get me wrong. They love their job. They have a genuine passion for it — just like the golfer or attorney. But they’re bored to tears as they work through yet another live roleplay with their peers and bosses. Please, make it all stop!

Listen to the full discussion on Roleplays and Simulations on our Disruptors & Innovators Podcast.

Even if you’re invested in getting better at your craft and don’t mind live roleplays, the process has shortcomings, among them:

  • Not indicative of real-life situations,
  • Too often viewed as one-size-fits-all (it’s not),
  • Scenarios are too broad,
  • There’s not enough time to think,
  • Judging is too subjective (we all have biases),
  • Inconsistent scoring,
  • Uncomfortable (and when you’re uncomfortable, you don’t perform as well),
  • Doing it once rarely helps, and 
  • It gets old — fast!

That last bullet point is perhaps the biggest kicker. There is only so much about live roleplays that people can tolerate before they “check out.” You can’t do the scenario once, so how many times is acceptable? Three times? Seventeen times? 

As you watch others go through the scenarios, you’re taking notice of what is working and what isn’t; what you should emulate and avoid; self-conscious pressure over whether or not it’s safe or acceptable to copy someone else or find your own path. What’s the “right” answer?

Conversely, simulations don’t get tired. They’ll still be there tomorrow, the next week, or even the next year for you or your sales staff to try again. Simulations are a “perfect practice environment” for sales reps that, unlike the same tired roleplays, offer consistency, zero shortcomings, and unlimited time for practice and skill development.

A Practical Time and Place For Roleplay

Role plays suck. It’s an outdated training concept that, honestly, is an example of what happens when we keep doing the same things but expect different results. With all that being said, there is absolutely a place for live roleplaying in the sales training world. The best, most practical use of a live roleplay is to “get unstuck” — to move beyond a point that’s either a blockage or an unknown. You work through a specific problem or situation with others to determine how to best address or resolve a problem or concern or respond to prospects’ objections.

Live roleplay as a targeted, focused approach is:

  • Less formal (perhaps during a 1-on-1 coaching session),
  • Aimed at a specific aspect of a conversation you’d have,
  • Unscored, and
  • Focused on providing options, talking through a scenario, and what to do next time.

For all other situations outside of this targeted, focused approach, it’s time to stop relying on live roleplaying and unlock the potential of your organization’s sales training with simulations.

Allow Your Employees To Practice and Develop Through Simulations

Our sales practice tools place salespeople in an automated, unbiased, scalable roleplay simulator in a safe, risk-free, realistic environment that creates a path to mastery. They can: 

  1. Think through possibilities.
  2. Take a path in a conversation that makes sense.
  3. Make adjustments that work.
  4. Receive meaningful scoring that is consistent and objective.

People who have gone through our simulations say it was like real life. They could hear the buyer’s voice, see their facial expressions, and understand the buyer’s intentions. In many ways, the simulator changed their behavior in selling situations and changed the way they see a conversation.  

These are all powerful things that you can do in a simulation that you may or may not accomplish in live roleplaying.


Author: Nick Rini

Nick Rini, with an extensive tenure in tech as an entrepreneur, has led three companies as CEO, and served as an advisor to several tech company CEOs. Nick’s experience includes raising venture funding, mergers and acquisitions, sales forensics consulting, sales, marketing, and sales management.