Why Role Plays are the Best Bet for Effective Sales Training


Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Wishing is not enough; we must do.”
– Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

How right on point Von Goethe is. Selling has never been simple or straightforward. All the prospects have unique needs, personalities, buying motivations; which means no single sales script or strategy will work for all. So, no matter how many lessons or books a salesperson can cram, they can never learn the true skill, unless they practice in the field.

And that’s what makes sales training so hard to put into practice. But there’s a solution – role plays. Role-play training exercises have long been recognized as a powerful training tool in sales. Role plays are a proven way to boost the performance of sales teams by enhancing their confidence in new product features and benefits and how to handle objections in a safe environment.

When you give your new sales hires different role-playing scenarios, you’re helping them develop their conflict resolution skills, build empathy, handle rejections, and learn to perform under pressure. They also learn how to improvise under different scenarios.

Role play scenarios in sales

In the sales profession, there are broadly four main scenarios, or you can say, customers, a salesperson will encounter.

1. Complaining or argumentative customer

This is a must-have scenario in any of your role play training exercises. A customer can be angry for a host of reasons – unsatisfactory service, delay in refund, defective product, etc. And as a salesperson, you can’t escape such customers and will have to deal with them as no one wants unhappy customers. The role play exercises must involve a good amount of info about products as well as offers, campaigns in running, so the sales reps can counter customers’ arguments positively and effectively.

2. Undecided customer

Sometimes, even after giving it your best shot, few customers will always be undecided. The objections could be focused on features, service, or pricing. In some situations, the customer actually likes the product but is not in a position to authorize the purchase. Role play exercises in this scenario must be about how sales reps can do their homework right. You must discuss how your business is validating leads and how to properly categorize leads in their proper categories.

3. Nitty-gritty customer

This type of customer is detail-oriented and will do their own thorough research before making a purchase. Role play exercises to handle such customers must focus on specific questions that’d need further education. Such exercises would also help your reps deal with the unknown, and at the same time, you can assess your reps’ knowledge about the brand and its products.

4. Tech-savvy customer

Such customers are extremely tech-savvy and are one step ahead of the sales reps when it comes to products, features, and functionalities. You might think that you have covered all your bases about your business and that of the competitors. But there’ll always be one tiny detail that you’d miss out. Role play exercises for such customers would involve in-depth scenarios about the products, including even the tiniest, unnoticeable details. Such exercises would force your reps to think out of the box.

How to create effective role-playing scenarios?

Once you know the different types of customers you encounter in your business, you can chalk out a strategy to create effective role play scenarios that will help your sales teams to come out on top of their game.

Here are some tips that you can use to make the role plays effective:

  • Use a script: It’s ok to let your sales teams use a script while hashing out exercises. It’d enhance their confidence levels and give them fair opportunities to succeed in a role. Once they are comfortable enough, they will switch to improvisation during the exercises.
  • Rejection happens: It’s very important to help your sales reps understand that rejection is a part of the game and they must not take it personally. Ideate some scenarios with rejection to enable reps to handle it better. And share your stories with your team; it would humanize rejections.
  • Take notes: The point of an effective role play scenario is to not interrupt your reps during the exercise. You must take notes and allow the reps to steer the conversation on their own. This helps them to think on their feet.
  • Test listening skills: Listening is an extremely important skill every salesperson must-have. In the role play exercises, interject some false information about your products or services to test your reps’ listening skills. Their response can help you to coach them better.
  • Negotiation scenarios: Most of the customers want a good bargain and will ask for it. Develop negotiation skills in your reps through role play scenarios by creating situations where buyers would deliberately ask for a lower price based on competitor pricing or budget. You can leverage artificial intelligence to evaluate such role plays because it identifies the number of filler words used, tone, and confidence, which are typically more difficult to provide feedback on without concrete data.

Role plays for effective sales training

Role plays encourage sales reps to think more critically about the products and services and to see situations from a different perspective. If done right, role plays can motivate reps in a fun and engaging way. But for that to happen, role plays should be content-focused, match the business objectives, and be relevant to real-world situations.

However, creating role plays for online sales training needs more than understanding real-life scenarios and business objectives. Especially if you are building more than one-off custom sales training module, you need templates to streamline the development process and create a consistent learning experience. Organizations widely deploy our interactive templates for role plays to create business simulations and branching scenarios really fast and affordable. They are customizable and can be used for any industry and audience.

We work through a compelling storytelling technique and use several motion graphics and talking head videos to make your role plays effective and boost engagement and performance. There is no need to provide boring digital catalogs or customary page-turner sales training courses when you can offer interactive role plays that can be accessed remotely across devices. Talk to us if you want to refresh your sales training program.

 This article was first published on eLearning Industry.  

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How Role Plays Help in Extended Enterprise Training


People empowered by technology are the biggest asset for businesses to compete in today’s cut-throat world. And businesses aren’t stopping at hiring the best talent and investing in their training; they are also broadening their focus to include those in the “extended enterprise.” These external stakeholders, who can play a pivotal role in a business’s success, include affiliates, franchisees, vendors, consultants, business partners, even customers.

Businesses realize that to deliver enhanced customer experiences, helping their extended enterprises become more effective is as important as building solid relationships. And that’s why it’s critical to invest in extended enterprise training.

This goes back years. Japanese auto manufacturers famously helped their suppliers be more effective back in 1993 by sharing their approaches to success and collaborating with them to make better products and cars. Big tech companies like Salesforce, Microsoft, Amazon run their own “partner programs.” The list is endless.

Extended enterprise training is a “must-have” for the huge benefits they bring. Better revenue, strengthened brand, reduced risk, and improved business processes are just a few, but significant ones. It makes sense that those businesses are constantly looking out for ways to make their extended enterprise training efficient. And role plays have emerged as one of the most effective modes of doing so.

How to use role plays effectively in extended enterprise training?

Role plays are an effective method of training for better retention and performance. Let’s understand how you can implement role plays as part of your extended enterprise training.

Product training: You can’t expect to engage the extended enterprise teams with the same old interactive manuals, videos and linear eLearning courses. Train them on product features and benefits through complex branching scenarios revealing information on each path. Demonstrate the functionalities through an interactive mascot or a guide. Build gradual curiosity in learners prompting them to ask questions and learn in-depth. 

Sales training: Identify the areas where sales teams are likely to face challenges and build role plays to equip them to handle those sales scenarios. Digital role plays are excellent for practicing the elevator pitch, demonstrating products and solutions, fielding typical customer objections, and learning negotiations in a safe environment. Strategically use digital role plays to prepare sales teams to face classroom practice sessions with sales managers or leaders.

Customer support training: No one benefits from role plays based training than people in customer support roles. Understand the profiles of the customers, their expected behaviors, and possible concerns that your extended enterprise teams might face and create role plays with branching scenarios for each customer profile. Prepare them to keep calm while interacting with customers in all situations. Equip them with specific product knowledge and soft skills to navigate complex customer interactions.    


Often the training materials given to extended enterprises are overlooked because they are boring and conventional. You can change the way extended enterprise training is done by changing the approach. Help everyone in your extended network learn with the same zeal as your direct employees. Make them feel emotionally connected with your products and solutions through a digital mascot or a guide. Give them a better brand experience that they can further extend to their customers. Role plays as the training approach makes this possible. 

Organizations must convince stakeholders to invest in extended enterprise training. Empowering your network to excel with product training and also helping them develop the necessary soft skills to succeed will add to your bottom line. Organizations widely deploy our off-the-shelf English language training as a part of their extended enterprise training solution. Our interactive templates for role plays make creating business simulations and branching scenarios really fast and affordable. They are customizable and can be used for any industry and audience.

There is no need to provide boring digital catalogs or customary page-turner eLearning courses when you can offer interactive role plays on mobile phones for busy executives. Talk to us to overhaul your extended enterprise training. We will take the role plays route to make your training stand out.

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“Role” of Role Plays in eLearning for Better Retention and Performance


Remember those childhood days spent enacting scenarios for the doctor, nurse, even chefs? The sense of pride we all felt while asking for money from our peers as a bus conductor or catching a “thief” as a police officer.

Role plays have been an integral part of our lives and as kids, we all learned a great deal from them. It enabled us to step in the shoes of others and understand their roles. Over the years, they also became an effective way of delivering training. Today, the entire eLearning industry thrives on role plays.

What are role plays in a learning scenario?

Role-playing as a pedagogical tool has been used in various fields, from medicine to law, and from business to psychology. Though role play has traditionally been used in educational settings with an emphasis on the social dynamic of learning and fostering collaboration among students, researchers have found role plays to be useful in getting students to better grasp practical cognitive skills.

Learning can be hard. And what can be a better example to explain the concept than the famous Ebbinghaus forgetting curve. Coined by the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus in the late 19th century, it demonstrated the rate at which information is forgotten over time if we don’t attempt to retain it. A few studies conducted on Ebbinghaus’ theory further suggest that humans forget approximately 50% of new information within an hour of learning it, which goes up to an average of 70% within 24 hours.

Role plays as part of gamification have emerged as one of the best options to beat the forgetting curve. All that is needed is to take the mechanics of games and apply them to eLearning, which can then be used to motivate learners to complete the required learning. And, because it’s interactive and gets the learners engaged, knowledge retention is more likely.

Here are some benefits of role-playing in education and business:

  • Motivates and engages learners
  • Enhances learner retention, and in turn, performance
  • Enhances current instructional strategies and approaches
  • Provides real-world scenarios to help the learners
  • Learn real-world skills, such as negotiation, debate, collaboration, persuasion
  • Provides opportunities for critical observation of peers

When should you use role plays?

Role plays are an effective method of training for better retention and performance in learners. But should you use them every time? Not necessarily. Only a few situations warrant the use:

1. You want learners to step into someone’s shoes and view events from others perspective. For instance, making an employee think like a customer or a senior manager think like a fresher.

2. You want learners to learn and experience something which is often either not possible in a physical set up or uncomfortable to talk about. For example, letting a man experience sexual harassment as a woman.

3. You want to demonstrate the various stages of a project, from inception to launch.

4. You want to teach effective interpersonal skills.

There are several examples in real-life where companies and universities are using role plays to deliver effective eLearning. For instance,

British company HostileWorld has a flagship course called Hostile Environment Awareness Training, or HEAT, which supports a variety of sectors that deploy personnel, or work with local agents, in hostile or insecure environments. The course introduces learners to strategies for staying safe and uses role play to help learners practice behaviors, protocols, and security challenges.

The University of London recently used online role-play as part of their midwifery course to help learners get a clear understanding of the ethics through an interactive, simulated course. The role plays were designed to blend with face-to-face teaching and allowed learners to make autonomous clinical decisions as a midwife and understand what it is like in their shoes.

At Cornell University, an instructor employs virtual role-playing assignments as a learning exercise for learners, where students are broken into small groups and assigned topics to explore. There is a group discussion board labeled, “Backstage Rehearsal Area.” Over a period of four to five days, each of the performing students posts several comments per day in interaction with their fellow cast members, which is then analyzed. Many students have commented that immersion in the topic, established through role-playing, provides insight into real issues that they have faced and allows them to work through these issues in a meaningful way.

How to use role plays effectively for better retention and performance?

Meaningful role plays outside of formal training and education programs can help learners retain the subject matter better and perform better. You can enhance the effectiveness of your role plays up by several notches by considering these factors.

Capture the essence of conversations: When creating an online role play or converting a face-to-face role play exercise into an online version, you must stay focused on the desired outcome and not on the details of the conversation. Also, you need to carve out time for how conversations should branch. Writing the conversation answers and branches can be really time-consuming.

The customer or the learner isn’t always right: Feedback is an integral part of any program. But just because you got one or two negative feedbacks doesn’t mean the design itself is wrong. You must consider whether the design has reinforced your learning outcomes. In fact, purposefully designed difficult scenarios lead to better learning outcomes. Learners shouldn’t get it in the first try; they must struggle so they interact with a lot of characters and take a deep dive to understand the product or the role better.

Incorporate feedback: Including feedback in an online role play simulation can be a bit tricky but you need to add it so learners can learn effectively. So, deciding who gives the feedback and when it should be provided to the learner are crucial decisions. Ask yourself what role does feedback play in a learning process, when it should be given, and who should give it (single character or multiple characters).

Role plays in eLearning or online education

Role plays encourage learners to think more critically about complex subjects and to see situations from a different perspective. Done right, role plays can motivate students in a fun and engaging way. But for that to happen, role plays should be content-focused, match learning objectives, and be relevant to real-world situations.

A reliable and experienced eLearning partner can help you create immersive role play experiences for your learners. We have created communication skills and interview preparation skills modules using the role-playing technique in our English Language Training (ELT) solution. The learner goes through scenarios and records videos of self to play the role, practice, get feedback, and perfect skills.

We work through a compelling storytelling technique and use several motion graphics and talking head videos to make your role plays effective and boost engagement and performance. Our experience in creating digital learning content and partnership model for eLearning content development for the EdTech industry uniquely positions us to develop role play-based learning effectively. Talk to us!

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