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Role Playing – The Psychology of Improving Business Performance

Role playing or the act of practicing a business interaction prior to the real interaction has proved to be extremely powerful in achieving the goal(s) of the interaction. This is not the role playing that abounds with regards to games; this is the practicing of human interaction (rehearsing) situations to prepare for future performance in the business environment. Role playing is much like athletic practice, from newbie to long time expert the only thing that can be done to dramatically improve performance in role playing.

If performed properly is extremely powerful. Proper performance includes setting the stage so that it is as realistic as possible, participants posing as the prospect can be “hard” but not jerks and situations may be based on expected future or past experiences. For example, when role playing a telephone call, the participants should be back to back, not able to see the body language of the other participant. If looking at the other person during the phone call, body language may provide insights the participants would generally not have. Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) teaches us that body language accounts for 55% of our communication, in a standard telephone interaction the remaining communication attributes, tonality (38%) and verbiage (7%), are that’s left.

A common usage that is employed is to critique recent past experiences and determine if different techniques could have been employed for an improved outcome. It is better to replace those poorly executed sales calls with fresh vivid rehearsals of how it could have been executed. In fact, the best sales people use roles playing consistently to replace less than spectacular performances with role playing and suggestions from other sales professionals to avoid the same mistakes in the future.

If you have never used role playing you might find it a little awkward to start, but not impossible. Start with a list of objections your sales force hears consistently. Choose the “prospect “and the salesperson, set the stage (on the phone, in their office, at a networking event, etc) and have them begin. Someone should act as a facilitator to start and stop the role playing at the appropriate time. Others in attendance can add their approach and critiques. Start again, same players, same stage but new approach. This can be “played” as many times as necessary until the salesperson is comfortable and the responses are flowing naturally.

Role playing can be used for practicing NLP techniques, developing rapport, mirroring and matching, developing the consultive sales calls or improving the close. Remember it is not “practice makes perfect”, it is, “perfect practice makes perfect”. The more you and your team practice the better prepared they will be to achieve the goals they have set.

A professional business coach can assist you and your team in developing a continuing training environment that includes role playing.

About the Author

Licensed professional business coaching providing orientation and guidance to business owners and executive management teams in their pursuit of success. Areas of concentration include marketing, sales, financial management, systems, profit enhancement and human resources.

Improving marketing, improving sales, and closing business is taught in a very non-traditional consultative style. Emphasis is placed on measuring all activities to determine the return being generated to the business.

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