Columnists Brian Barfield You hate it – but you have to do it!

You hate it – but you have to do it!

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Most people hate to role-play.  However, as professional salespeople you have to do it.  Athletes have to practice, lawyers run mock trials, doctors work on cadavers, mechanics spend hours practicing before they are allowed to work on a machine, and pilots spend hours in flight simulators.  Sales is the only profession that I can think of where the people that are doing the work actually practice on their customers.  No wonder most stores don’t maximize their potential in sales.  Why do baseball players stand in the on-deck circle swinging two bats or a bat with a weight on the end?  Why does Tiger Woods hit 5000 golf balls a day on the driving range?  The answer is simple: In order to be the best they can be.

It amazes me that in many stores that I go into the salespeople have never sat down and thought about what they were going to say to a customer before they said it. Many have never written down, memorized, and practiced asking good, solid, information gathering, open-ended questions.  Most have never written down, memorized, and practiced questions that cause the customer to tell them what other jewelry pieces they may be interested in buying not only now, but in the future as well. 

We all know that people buy our products for a variety of different reasons.  Some are emotion based, some technically based, others are impulse buys, and some are even just to keep up with their peers.  Therefore, salespeople should have practiced all these different types of situations. 

Practice giving Features, Benefits, and Agreement Questions.  Most jewelry salespeople that I encounter give presentations that are chocked full of features, yet customers don’t buy features, they buy benefits.  It is not what the item has; it is what the item will do for the end-user, the customer.

As adults, it is very difficult for us to learn new information.  Our brains are full of so much stuff that it is sometimes extremely hard to retain new information that is to be learned. Some people are visual learners others are more auditory and still others need to learn through hands on experience. The bottom line is that all of us need to learn, retain and apply new information in all areas of our lives, especially professionally when it comes to salesmanship. There is so much new information to learn and the industry is changing so quickly that it sometimes seems nearly impossible to keep up. 

It is my experience that if an adult is to learn, retain and be able to apply new information the following five criteria must be met.

1) Hear the information - through the spoken word or through audio media.

2) Read the information - reading the information allows the participant to go back through the information and review immediately if the information wasn’t understood completely.

3) Write the information - Written understanding, or testing, of the information being taught guarantees that the information was understood and through memorization the retention begins.

4) Role-play the information that was taught - through role-playing a person begins to retain the application of the information that was taught, thus increasing the retention and application factor.

5) Do it in real live situations - Doing the strategies or techniques as taught in real life makes the learned information “real” and proves to the participant that the information does in fact work. Again throughout the process adults will retain and be able to consistently apply the information being taught.

If you have taken responsibility for yourself and your own success, you will follow these five criteria for training.  I can assure you the most important of the five is role-playing.  Get yourself to the point of when a customer gives you an objection, asks an unusual question, doesn’t know what they are looking for, doesn’t have any product knowledge, etc., you will be saying to yourself, “I have practiced that situation a hundred times.”  True professionals get themselves to the point where when a customer comes in they are thinking, “I wonder how much I can sell them,” as opposed to what most salespeople think, “I wonder if I am going to sell them.”  Role-playing gives you confidence and confidence makes good salespeople great.


Author, trainer, consultant, and speaker Brad Huisken is President of IAS Training. Huisken has authored several books and training manuals on sales and  produces a Weekly Sales Training Meeting video series along with Aptitude Tests and Proficiency Exams for new hires, current sales staff and sales managers. In addition, he publishes a free weekly newsletter called “Sales Insight” For a free subscription or more information contact IAS Training at 800-248-7703 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Visit his website at www.iastraining.com.

 
 
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