Beginner’s Guide to B2B Sales Roleplays - 19th October 2017

If a singer wants to join a band then it’s highly likely they will have to have an audition first. It is the only way to test their singing abilities (and their ability to do it under a bit of pressure!). The same can be said for many other things whether that’s sports teams or sales jobs.

At Sales Talent, we believe in doing role plays with all our potential candidates. Many of our clients do the same. So how do you tackle a B2B sales roleplay? If you’ve never done one before then read on….

The format can vary, as can what they’re called. Some are referred to as ‘sales conversations’ or ‘sales pitches’. The aim for you, if you’re asked to do one, is to show the interviewer that you know and understand the fundamentals of selling and you know how to carry out a sales conversation. The reason the role play is done over the telephone is that in most cases, most B2B selling, at least the initial part of it, starts over the phone. Logical then, that your potential new employer will be looking to see how your voice sounds, and how you come across, over the telephone. The calls can be recorded too.

In some cases, you’ll have an idea as to what the content is going to be and maybe you’ll be sent a company brochure or link to a relevant website in advance, to give you the context of what you’re supposed to be selling. In others, you’ll be given the format and the product or service during the interview itself.

Whichever it is, naturally, don’t panic and take it in your stride.

Let’s start with the sales role play that you’re asked do on the spot during the interview. Naturally, you won’t have time to prepare anything and the interviewer won’t expect you to be an expert either. So, what do you do and what is the interviewer looking for? Easy. In most cases the scenario will be a first-time call and you’ll be ‘pretending’ to speak to a fresh enquiry or business lead. So, the interviewer will be looking at…

  • How do you start off the call? Remember first impressions count. Start off with a confident and warm tone to your voice. Introduce yourself and explain why you’re calling and what the ‘prospect’ is likely to expect from the call. Think of this as setting the agenda.
  • How good are you at gathering information? You’ll want to speak for as little as possible and get the ‘prospect’ to talk for the majority of the call. Why? You can only successfully start to sell to someone when you know what is important to them. Remember sales is about helping someone make an informed buying decision. If you just talk and ask no questions, you won’t get anywhere.
  • Can you show you know how to ask open questions? Asking questions isn’t enough here. You need to ask open questions – ones which you cannot reply with a yes, no or maybe (unless you are double checking for clarity). So instead of ‘are you’, ‘can you’, ‘do you’ – use ‘how, why or when’ and ‘tell me about…’, ‘describe what you…’
  • Do you make the conversation flow freely? You’ll need to sound natural and not stilted. So, as well as using nice open questions, remember to keep your voice upbeat and friendly Stop yourself from sounding flat and monotone.
  • Do you respond the answers given? This is where your listening skills are put to the test! It’s one to ask questions but can you take in the information given to you? Do you react to it? One way to make sure the interviewer knows you are listening is to occasionally summarise the essential points you’ve been e.g. ‘so as I understand it, you’re looking at buying XYZ in the next few months, and you’ve got a budget of £x,000. Is that right?’. Be interactive. If you’re told that the prospect is looking a buying your product as their business is doing really well, or they’ve won a new contract. Don’t ignore that detail. Congratulate them.
  • Are you professional sounding? Obvious, but you need to sound clear and easily to understand. Avoid mumbling, speaking too quickly and definitely steer clear of slang and phrases like ‘do you know what I mean’. Stay away from referring to the prospect as ‘buddy’ or ‘mate’. It’s overfamiliar and naff.
  • Do you end the call with agreed next steps? You must show that you understand the concept of closing. It’s unlikely your prospect will agree to buying from you in the roleplay. It’s too simplistic. Instead, and more realistically, you’ll want to get your prospect to agree and commit to doing something as part of the next step of the process. E.g. “so if I send you the proposal now, can we speak later today at 5pm to work out which options are the most suitable for you?”.

Where you are sent details of the product or service prior to the interview. It’s expected you’ll learn up on it. Really well! However, the big mistake is for candidates to treat this as a memory test – like an exam. They’ll fail in the interview by wanting to impress that they’ve learnt so much and just want to simply regurgitate it. They then forget to ask questions and to fact find. Be warned – don’t let that be you! Know the product and be ready to refer to it and share information when needed but stick to the questioning and probing as outlined above.

Good luck folks!