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About This Episode
Practice makes perfect. Well, maybe not always perfect, but at the very least, practice will always make progress. It’s true whether you’re training for a marathon, teaching a child how to ride a bike, or learning how to pitch your product.
Despite this reality, not enough sales companies put enough effort into creating opportunities for their reps to practice what they’re pitching each and every day. Imagine the progress they could make with even just 10 minutes of practice a week.
Bryan Naas is the Director of Sales Enablement at Lessonly, a sales training software. They work primarily with sales and customer service teams to help them train reps and provide development opportunities to practice at scale so that they can perform better when it’s time to get in front of a customer.
In order to effectively put action behind any new information, you have to put it into practice.
The Importance of Sales Practice
All too often, we give someone new information, like a video or powerpoint, and then tell them to go do it. We expect them to receive the information and flawlessly execute.
Imagine giving someone a baseball bat and a players book and expecting them to hit a home run in their first game. Sounds crazy, right? Your favorite athletes, authors, and artists have all spent countless hours failing and practicing until they created their masterpiece.
The same should be true for our sales reps. Sales leaders should give them enough opportunities to roleplay, send mock emails, and try it all out so that they can get in front of the customer with confidence.
It’s not a revolutionary idea, and maybe that’s why so many companies simply forget its importance. Role play has been an integral part of the sales industry for as long as we can remember, but we just don’t do it enough anymore. Bryan says it’s because companies are not equipped to do it at scale.
It’s also hard for both parties involved. It’s difficult for the sales rep in training because, as humans, we don’t like to fail. And having to fail in front of a new manager or peer is intimidating and uncomfortable. It’s also hard for the facilitator because it takes a lot of time—time that could be spent selling; it often feels like a tradeoff rather than an investment in our team.
Making the Time for Practice
Say you are a sales manager who just hired five new reps and you need them producing as soon as possible, how would you set aside time to allow them to practice? Bryan says that’s where training at scale comes in; when you utilize microlearning opportunities, you don’t have to spend a half or full day on training.
The more you can promote micro-learning and micro-practice, the more effective practice will be and the less you’ll have to think about the tradeoff between being on the floor and learning.
Three different types of microlearning opportunities you can implement right away are:
1. Virtual role play
This is role play at scale. In virtual role play, you record your pitch on video and capture immediate feedback through email or chat message. Bryan says, in the industry, we find that when we are asked to record a practice pitch, we actually record it multiple times before we submit it for feedback. So people are actually practicing their pitch 7-10 times before they turn it in.
This means your sales rep actually got to practice their pitch 7-10 times, not just once, and it only took 10 minutes out of their day to do so.
2. Micro role play
How many meetings are on your calendar throughout any given day? What if you chose one of those team meetings, took the first five minutes of it, and asked two of your reps to role play a situation that someone ran into earlier that week. In five minutes, you allowed your reps to practice during a small part of their day that was already set aside. That’s what it looks like to inject practice into your day-to-day.
3. Peer role play
This type of role play is a completely ad-hoc, informal session where you grab a peer at any point in your day and work on something you’re struggling with or a pitch you want to perfect. You step into a conference room for 10 minutes and practice it together. Minimal time and effort that can make a big difference.
Practice is about repetition. When you find time to repeatedly practice your pitch development in space that is already set aside for something else, your selling time doesn’t suffer. It actually improves.
It increases your time to productivity because you’re able to get to a place where you can perform at your best faster than if you only practice with customers or prospects. If you’re not practicing and role-playing with one another, then you’re practicing every time you talk with a customer. Bryan’s team is seeing companies reduce their ramp time by 40% when teams intentionally practice.
You can watch your team reach productivity 40% faster by being purposeful about fitting practice into the moments that are already happening within your day-to-day.