Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Role Playing for a Winning Result

image This article was written by Barry McKinley, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor

Every year in early February professional baseball players head out to Spring Training. Most of these players have been playing baseball almost year round since the time they were 8 years old. They have risen above the millions of kids who start out playing baseball to the 2,000 highest paid professionals in the world.

Ever wonder why these outstanding players have to go back to basic training every year? Because the coaches and management realize that the players may get sloppy or take short cuts. Spring training is designed to take them back to the fundamentals.

That is what “Role Playing” in business is all about. Like a baseball player, you may get only one chance! The best business managers and sales people constantly strive to improve their communication skills and “sales pitch” through “Role Playing.”

For many years I presented products and made “sales pitches” all over the United States from groups of a 100+ plus to a single individual. Making a sales presentation is no different than the performance of a skilled actor you see on the stage or TV. They have practiced over and over until their role becomes second nature. This should be exactly the same for you when you are making a presentation.

You’ve probably seen an infomercial where the product demonstrated performs great and it’s so cheap you order it? I have done that, but I could never get the gadget to operate the same as it did on TV. The difference was that the presenter probably practiced for two days before that 60 second commercial was shot.

Every business owner should work on these skills. You may not have to present your product to100 people but you certainly need to be effective in conveying your product features, company & services in an exciting matter and with creditability to potential customers. In staff training meetings ALL your employees, from the person answering the phone to employees dealing with upset customers, should go through “Role Playing Sessions”.

Basic Guide to “Role Playing 101”

1. Make a outline of what makes your company and its services unique.

(reduce this down to four to six sentences.)

2. Know your competition and be prepared to compare your company to theirs.

(create an outline of your strengths and weakness and your competitions strength and weaknesses. Focus on your strengths and their weaknesses!)

3. Create a list of probing questions.

(the more you know about your customer the easier it is to present to them and create excitement and desire!)

4. Make a list of “If they say this or ask that” I will “respond with . . . . . . . . . ”!

(to make an effective presentation it must be directed at the customers’ NEEDS!)

5. Now the most important part – put it all together in a brief presentation and then practice it until you can say it in your sleep.

At this point I would go out and present my “Pitch” to my toughest customer knowing that they would say no, but listening to their comments. I would then redo my presentation incorporating any ideas that I got from #1 toughest customer and go to my second toughest customer. Once again I would take their input and revise my presentation. One of the most important key factors in this process is to listen to the questions your customers ask. If you are hearing the same questions over and over that’s a cue that you need to redo you presentation to cover the questions more thoroughly. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you think you covered that point, it is what your customers heard and understood that counts!

When your presentation has been tried, perfected and proven you are ready to go out in the real world and start looking for business. This same technique is effective whether I was looking for a business loan, investor, or more business!