Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Value of Role Playing

When you're getting ready to make your pitch, someone might suggest role playing. Don't. Role playing will hurt your pitch.

I appreciate that this runs counter to almost all accepted sales training methods; however, I have yet to be shown how role playing actually results in more successful pitches.

There is a lot of value; however, in practising your pitch before delivery. What's the difference between role playing and practising?

In role playing, not only are you practising your pitch you are also pretending that the person listening to your pitch is your final audience. Reality is, that person is also pretending, they are pretending to be your final audience. Simply practising your pitch removes the layer of make believe from role playing and allows you to focus on the most important aspect of your pitch - your content!

Give you an example. You are pitching the VP of Human Resources at your organization. A colleague agrees to "role play" as the VP. Why is your colleague qualified to pretend to be the VP? Are they and the VP personal friends? Have they worked together closely? Is your colleague a trained actor? Probably "none of the above." You will spend most of your role play responding to your colleague, who is inventing feedback they think the VP would say instead of focusing on your content.

Some of you are thinking, "role playing is valuable. You wouldn't give the same pitch to a peer as you would a Director, a VP or a CEO." I agree absolutely; however, how you pitch to each type of individual goes back to Communications 101 - know your audience.

Once you know your final audience - for example, your CEO responds best to visuals or your VP wants to see an implementation plan - you build your pitch to suit that audience. Then, when you ask a colleague to help you practise, that individual can focus on how well your content fits your final audience instead of trying to invent things your final audience might say.

What do you think? Does role playing have a place outside a stage or screen?

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