How Simulations Can Help You Sell

How do you prepare yourself to master critical, complex, and changing situations? You might develop, for instance, your awareness, consciousness, mindfulness and your communication skills to turn things around and achieve positive outcomes.

How do you prepare those situations when they impact not only you, but many others? Think about pilots. They have to handle emergencies and keep everyone safe. They train regularly with flight simulators to further develop and strengthen their adaptive capabilities to master critical situations under all conditions. Because so many other lives are involved, they have to know exactly what to do. In advance! That means they learn via simulations and execute on the job.

In sales enablement, simulation is an advanced method to develop people’s adaptive capabilities. Simulations develop the ability to master complex, new, and changing situations under all conditions, by adjusting activities, behaviors, tactics, and strategies.

Advanced enablement leaders use simulations as part of their enablement programs to further develop highly skilled sales professionals to strengthen their adaptive capabilities. An older word for this method is “role playing.” Many salespeople still don’t like role plays. Is it because it seems so obvious that the scenarios are artificial? Or because so many salespeople think, “I don’t need this”?

However, simulations are different from role plays, and are much closer to the real world. Simulations need a solid set-up of a real situation with all different players involved. Then, salespeople don’t see it as a childish activity. And it creates a much better learning experience.

There is an additional way to leverage simulations. Did you ever think about using a simulation to achieve a breakthrough in a difficult opportunity? Using a simulation as a sales tool?

Here’s an example: Your salespeople sell business process outsourcing solutions. Most of the time, it’s about outsourcing accounting processes, travel management, or HR operations processes. Often, the driving force to do so comes from the CFO or the COO. The involved department leaders are not enthusiastic about the project. For sales professionals who have to deal with such a broad range of stakeholders, a deal can easily get stuck because it seems almost impossible to develop a shared vision of future success across the stakeholder team.

Creating this vision is a must-have ingredient to move the deal forward. Conversations are not always sufficient to get all the stakeholders on the same page. Because very often, the goals and desired results, the perspectives and approaches, and also the personal interests are so very different that a broader, more holistic approach is needed that also requires the stakeholders to develop a better understanding for each other’s perspective. And this is where simulation could come into play.

A guided simulation would include all involved stakeholders in a real scenario. Of course, such a simulation should not be led by the sale steam. The stakeholders could be “thrown into” a similar situation that is not exactly theirs but similar enough in terms of the decisions to be made and the understanding that has to be developed. Ideally, the stakeholders would get different roles than they have in their real world, with the aim of enabling them to develop another perspective on the matter.

In complex selling situations that require a decision-making process by a large group of stakeholders with different roles, interests, and perspectives, simulations can be a powerful sales tool to enable a stakeholder group to see their own project from a different perspective. Developing more understanding for each other, simulations, led by a third party, can lead to a shared vision of future success. And that’s exactly what’s needed to move a challenging opportunity forward.

Questions for you:

  • Do you use simulations as an enablement service?
  • Do you use simulations as a sales tool to win difficult opportunities?
  • If so, what are your experiences?


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