sale simulation

Why Investing in Sales Simulations is Your Business’ Next Best Move

Guy Shulberg

Senior consultant

| 6 minutes

Our previous post covered the tremendous shift that has taken the world of sales by storm over the last 50 years. Today, we’re going to let you in on a little secret: we’re going to teach you how to gain a competitive advantage and boost your ROI in this new sales environment. Hint: we’re going to be talking sales enablement 

When it comes to product updates, technological innovations, market developments, and more, a common thread prevails. The rapid rate of the change requires constant learning. In sales, ongoing training can translate into a world of pain for any company merely trying to maintain routine business operations. 

But it doesn’t have to. 

Let’s take a deep dive into the wonderful world of sales simulations and how they can help you and your business grow and scale.

Teach reps to learn smarter

Rather than inundating your sales reps with heaps of reading material, investing tons of time on making them remember technical specifications and testing their absorption of information with tests à la SATs, the fastest way to turn information into knowledge on how to sell is through practice.

The concept of “learning by doing” is an age-old adage that has recently become increasingly more popular. Over the last 20 years, numerous studies have focused on its benefits across the fields of education, psychology, decision-making, and cognition, all showing similar results: learning through doing is up to 3 times as effective as learning through studying, and comes hand in hand with many other benefits.

Now, more than ever, it is critical that your sales reps be exposed to as many real-time interactions with clients as possible – and as soon as possible – to bring about the best possible results. But don’t go about this willy-nilly! Putting sales reps in front of clients without first ensuring they’ve learned the new product and strategy inside out, and can preach what they’ve practiced, is an absolute must. 

Why?

Mistakes are an essential part of learning. Learning from our mistakes helps us improve our actions and approaches for the future. As such, it is key that our sales reps make their mistakes as soon as possible and under the watchful eye of those higher up on the corporate ladder, rather than in front of potential paying customers. 

Simulations create the very real environment you need to trigger the benefits of learning by doing, safely and without the risk of lost sales.

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Sales Simulations –what you need to know right now

When done right, simulations can take your sales team to new heights by:

  1. Testing the assimilation of new products in pitches
  2. Providing a clear picture of your sales reps’ actual capabilities
  3. Introducing your overarching strategy into their conduct in an impactful way

These are all routine requirements of the business world and should have stated measures for quantified insights.

Reason #1 – Simulations generate multi-level change 

Some of your salespeople have inherited mindsets and behaviors from previous organizations that do not fit your strategy or code of conduct, while others may have developed their attitude towards sales in your company but under a previous paradigm. When done correctly, sales simulations foster a change on individual and organizational levels of your sales force, shaking off old routines and habits. 

Reason #2 – Simulations create visceral learning environments

Verbal reviews of required standards are next to impossible, and when they do occur, they are time-consuming and are often met with resistance to change. As such, confirmation bias towards preconceived notions lead those faced with verbal reviews to tend to stick to the status quo. A simulation is a great platform to talk about issues, abilities, and blind spots in a non-confrontational way because the reality in the room manifests these issues in a visceral way.

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Front lobe, from: share.upmc.com

Reason #3 – Simulations get the conversation started

When trying to talk your people into changing their attitude, you often come face-to-face with the “hot and cold empathy gap,” a well-known phenomenon in the fields of behavioral sciences.  A “hot” state is one in which your limbic system is triggered for some reason, whether by lacking energy or by feeling threatened, and you are more likely to use heuristics (mental short-cut) based on decision-making. In the “cold” state, your frontal cortex is in charge, it is of course much more deliberate and rational, and that’s why it’s having a very hard time predicting the physiological-emotional drives shaping your reaction in a stressful situation.

Salespeople requiring upskilling may agree that your suggestions are great, and they’ll be sure to use them. However, in the “hot” state of interacting with a client, just like a New Year’s resolution to work out more, old habits and routines  take over. (For a deeper dive into these phenomena, listen to this illuminating podcast on the subject from NPR’s Hidden Brain.)

Simulations thus can serve as a springboard into a conversation about habits and skills, as they close this empathy gap. When the response stated to a client’s objection is mirrored back to salespeople in the post-simulation discussion, it’s very hard to ignore (Figure 1 is a Vayomar scorecard example).
Finally, your salespeople see their gap of perception before their eyes and will become better at predicting their own responses to real-life clients, for example, and have a better assessment of their actual sales proficiency actions regarding your products and market.

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Vayomar knows what makes simulations work

With years of experience in this nascent field and over 1,300 salespeople under our tutelage, Vayomar has distilled the four elements that lead to successful simulations for any sales organization. Here’s what we do:

  1. We simulate uncomfortable real experiences. It’s not enough to bring generic, “white-labeled” lean scenarios, mass-produced to fit many industries. The less we connect to real situations the sales rep knows he is going to encounter, the harder it will be for the participants to take the rep seriously and implement the conclusions in day-to-day operations.
  2. We drive skill development based on methodology. Simply role-playing a realistic situation is not enough. You need to layer the scenario with methods and strategies that have been quantifiably proven to work.
  3. We ensure simulations are modified for rapid testing and learning. A good simulation has a rough template that repeats itself regardless of the scenario but can be updated\repurposed for new situations with speed and ease. The run time and preparation should be kept short, made possible, in part, by the template.
  4. We supply quantified insights on the training needed. A good simulation has to have clear success metrics and KPIs that enable the assessment of any participant’s ability and monitor it over time. Our simulation scorecard is a great example (see Figure 1). This tool allows our simulations to change individual conduct and improve the entire sales force’s strategy, as they supply a snapshot into the collective pain points and weaknesses of your organization.
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Figure 1:  An example of a measurement tool for the simulation – Vayomar’s Scorecard

Bottom line

Successful simulations ensure that domain expertise, sales acumen, and motivation to improve are high among your sales staff by using real-world scenarios, a methodical approach, quantifiable measures, and real-time strategy updates. They allow for the generation of insights into your organizational sales acumen and a present platform from which you can roll out any improvements needed to make your sales force future-proof. 

Interested in efficiently implementing simulations and fully unlocking their potential to transform the organization? Click here to read & watch the perfect simulation program.

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Guy Shulberg

In my day-to-day life, I find that three abilities serve me best:

Curiosity – I ask lots of questions, everything interests me, and it enables me to have a fresh perspective on people’s problems.

Sincerity – most people are surprised by the extent to which I’m determined to help them.

Tolerance – I meet all kinds of people, on all organizational levels. I found it best to meet them where they are, and not where I think they’re supposed to be.

My training as a historian helps me ask the correct questions, my training from Vayomar helps frame every action I take as a service to somebody, and my background as an outsider reminds me of the importance of tolerance towards others.

“Latent structure is master of obvious structure.”
― Heraclitus, Fragments 

My recommendations:

The Anthropocene Review – a podcast about life in the Human Time.

A Canticle for Leibowitz,  by Walter Michael Miller Jr. A book about life between two nuclear wars.

Asterios Polyp  by David Mazzucchelli. A graphic novella on hubris, relationships, and happiness.