Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach – Part 5

By Dr. Jack Singer


Today is “Friday Finale!”

By Dr. Jack Singer
Licensed Sport Psychologist
Professional Sales Team Speaker/Trainer

This is part 5 of a 5 part series.

Part 1: Gameplan for Sales Success

Part 2 : Triumphant Tales Tuesday

Part 3: Wednesday Workshop

Part 4: Mental Toughness Thursday

GAME PLAN FOR SALES SUCCESS: Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports CoachThis is the final day of my week long Game Plan for Sales Success. Just like the first day, Magic Monday, the intent of this wrap-up day is to provide fun and more bonding to end the week long training program.

When a football team is preparing to face an opponent on Saturday, Friday is the day for a no pads, relaxed “walk through” and team bonding. For sales professionals, the game plan to develop revamped selling skills, new products or services, and learning best practices from each other has now been conducted and the final day is the time for a wrap up, which may be accomplished with low stress team building exercises and work-games. There are many workbooks on the market, describing sales training exercises and games.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Friday Finale Agenda

#1. Open the day with a fun icebreaker exercise: The Human Treasure Hunt. This is my favorite exercise to begin a training day. Hand out a page that contains a checklist of what attendees need to gather among their colleagues. The checklist actually describes characteristics of the attendees, rather than things. The first person to complete the checklist wins a nice prize.

Each of the items on the checklist begins with this sentence opening: “Find two colleagues who…”

You can have fun items, such as “Find two colleagues who have the same birth month as you” or “enjoys the same flavor of ice cream.” And…you can have job-related items, such as “Find two colleagues who have been recognized for their success selling (a product or service) and ask them the secrets of their success.”

By blending fun and job-related items, the Human Treasure Hunt becomes a great way to open the day. It also has a side benefit of allowing more networking among all of the participants.

Now, the first person to complete the checklist doesn’t win the prize until she/he reports the information in front of the entire audience, so when approaching people to get information for the checklist, participants need to carefully listen for their names and listen carefully to what they tell them, so they can accurately repeat the information to the audience. For example: “Mary Jones and Tom Smith both have been honored for their sales success this year. Mary attributes her success to….and Tom attributes his success to…”

This trains participants to listen carefully, memorize the material, and then present it correctly.

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#2. Games for building rapport with customers. Like all sales games, these customer rapport building games can be conducted individually or in teams, which compete with each other. One hilarious way of practicing these skills is by using improvisation methods. This stimulates thinking on your feet, and having excellent communications and careful listening skills.

In one of these games, Alphabet Soup, divide the participants into pairs, and have them choose who takes the role of sales person and who takes the role of customer for round one. In round two, they will switch roles.

Set up this game by telling everyone that they are in a sales setting with their product or service being discussed with a prospective customer. The sales person starts by making a comment about the product or service, but the comment must begin with the letter “A.” The person playing the customer role responds, but his/her response must start with the letter “B.”

The two continue alternating sentences until they complete the last statement or response with the letter “Z.”

This can get hilarious and teaches quick thinking, while building rapport with a customer.

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#3. Games for improving listening skills. Developing wonderful listening skills is critical for the success of any professional sales person. I like to begin by teaching a method of listening that I call the T.R.I.U.M.P.H.S. model. While a description of this model is beyond the scope of this article and can be found detailed elsewhere, let me summarize each heading in the model.

Treat your customers with respect and value each one.

Reflect the meaning of what your customer is telling you before you actually respond to it.

“I” statements are most powerful.

Understand the needs and goals of the customer before trying to sell.

Monitor the tone and mannerisms of the customer, as well as the content of what she/he is telling you.

Probe gently and with respect.

Help the customer feel safe in the conversation.

Summarize frequently during your conversation to ensure that you are hearing what the customer is trying to relate to you.

Once your audience has a thorough understanding of this model, you can ask for two volunteers: one to play the role of sales person and one for customer. Have them come to the front of the room and have the “customer” role play the type of customer with whom your team members typically deals. Have the role playing “sales person” try to listen to the needs and goals of the customer, and the objections or concerns about the product/service, etc. After 10 minutes or so, stop the exercise and ask the “customer” whether he/she felt listened to. Why or why not did they feel that way?

Once questions are answered and feedback is given, pair up the entire audience and have them practice the skill.

A second exercise is a really funny way to demonstrate how most of us do NOT listen. This is the party-game called Telephone. Get six volunteers to leave the room and give a seventh volunteer a card with some information or a short story written on it. Then call in one volunteer from the other room and have the volunteer with the information read what is on the card to the second person. The second person is then charged with the task of memorizing the information and reporting it (without the card) to the third volunteer. The process proceeds one volunteer at a time until the last volunteer is given the information.

By the time the story is told to six or so people, it is completely distorted from the original. This game is loads of fun, but makes the point about how important listening skills are.

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#4. Games for closing and handling customer objections. Another improvisation exercise can be used in for closing deals and dealing with customer objections. Again, have everyone in the room pair up. One member of the pair will be the customer and the other the sales person, and then the roles can be reversed for a second round with different instructions.

Have all of the “sales people” leave the room and give them their written instructions, while the “customers” get their written instructions separately. Then bring the “sales people” back in, find their “customer” partners and begin the exercise.

Here’s an example of how to set the scene for round 1: The sales people are told that “You only have time to make one more sale today and you only have until the end of this workday to close a sale worth $5000 in order to win a bonus trip to Hawaii.” (Note: if possible, use actual products or services that your team sells.)

The “customer” role players receive these instructions: “You are considering purchasing _____, but you are only interested in one of her/his products today, and it’s the one that sells for $4000.”

Let the fun begin. You’ll hear uproarious laughter throughout the room, as sales people wheel and deal with customers and the customers resist. Many great closing techniques will be demonstrated, which can be presented to the entire room by those “customers” who were actually swayed to purchase the more expensive product.

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#5. Closing exercise. If your team is small enough that everyone knows each other, the Brag Bag exercise is a marvelous way to close the day and the training week. Each attendee has a small paper bag and puts her/his name on it with a permanent marker. Each bag is hung around the room with masking tape, leaving the open end exposed. Now each attendee is given enough small strips of paper to have one for every bag (or attendee).

Here’s the best part: After learning much about their colleagues during the five-day training, each attendee has several positive impressions of each colleague. So, each attendee writes the most positive thing she/he can say about each colleague on separate slips of paper and drops each slip in the appropriate bag. Each attendee then picks up his/her bag and staples it shut. They are not to open the brag bags until they leave the seminar. Imagine the joy and comfort on the way home, waiting for their flight, or when they finally arrive at home, to read a whole group of slips, relating positive feedback from each of their colleagues! What a great way to end your training week.

Of course, for many of you, the training will involve large numbers of attendees, where you will not have much information about the colleagues with whom you did not interact during the week. Therefore, here is a closing exercise for large groups of attendees:

Random Picks 

The trainer reviews the content for the entire week and then each participant writes down an Action Plan for him/herself. I prefer having a handout, with numbered lines on which to write down the actions/behaviors each participant will begin practicing and the date by which they hope to accomplish those actions. A sentence beginning with “I will” can lead off each line. For example, a participant my write down that she/he will “practice listening skills with my spouse or best friend for a week and solicit feedback about how I am doing.” They then write down a date by which they plan to complete the task.

On the bottom of the sheet, they put their names and business telephone numbers. All papers are passed to the front, shuffled and placed in a pile. On the way out of the meeting room, each participant picks a sheet, makes sure it is not his or her own, and commits to call the person whose action plan she/he received, on the date shown on the paper.

The beauty of this exercise is that it serves to stimulate actionable take-aways and commits the participant to follow up, because they will be made accountable by the colleague who received their action plan and will be following up.

Of course, you are free to modify any of the exercises conducted during the five day sales training program. Here’s wishing you the best of continued success in training your sales team for peak performance!



Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years. Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit and or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.

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