I am glad you asking this questions, instead of “do I need to role play?”.
Coming up with your lines on the fly when calling on prospects is the approach that a professional salesperson should never use. Scrips are a necessity part of your toolbox. You have to have them - a wide variety of them, specific to any sales situation and regardless of your sales field. They need to be well practiced and internalized and you have to know how to vary your approach for the situation at hand.
There is a lot of existing information on the subject of real estate scripts as well. There are scripts from coaches, scripts floating on the internet or those around from colleague to colleague, books that include script examples, etc. The goal of role playing is getting used to weaving a meaningful, objective based conversation through the wooden script and becoming elegant in closing your prospect for an appointment, a signature, a price reduction or getting them to give you the information you need to understand if they are a viable lead.
How far do you push the conversation? How do you adapt your approach based on the personality of the prospect? What questions do you ask to gather the intelligence you need? How do you close for an appointment? What do you do in an appointment? How do you use tonality? How do I best cater to the prospect’s personality? Over time you will be able to answer these questions through the practice of role playing.
Practicing scripts is a key part of preparing for the real life communication. It will make your prospecting sessions less scary and you may actually start believing the older agent population claims, when they say they are looking forward to 5 hour per day prospecting sessions. Over time you will start finding a sense of satisfaction and a deeper purpose, while auto-dialing and waiting for the next lead to pick up the phone. As with most hard to acquire skills, a successful conversation with leads on the phone, a.k.a. prospecting become acceptable, routine and even enjoyable after a few years of practice and real life interactions. This progression will only happen when you know your scripts and practice them regularly. Now I want to address a few questions that I hear often:
Q: How many role playing partners should I have?
A: The more, the better. When you are starting out I suggest you role play at least twice per day Monday through Friday. That’s 10 role playing sessions per week. It would be best for you to have a different partner for each role playing session. With this approach you will deal with different agent personalities, levels of script mastery, different vocabularies, levels of energy etc.
Q: How good should my role playing partners be?
A: A mix of all the skills. When you are working on improving your skills, you are role playing with a better partner. When you are having fun - someone on your level. When you are giving back what you know to a less experienced agent - someone, who is not as good as you.
Q: When in the day do I role play?
A: Have 2 prospecting sessions per day. First, right before you start prospecting. This will prime you for the calls to come and will get you warmed up and ready, even when the very first lead you call picks up the phone. Once you are done with prospecting for the day, you should have written down a few objections that you can handle better next time. Or may be you ran into a personality type, you did not know how to properly handle. A role playing session right after prospecting will help you work through that.
Q: How often do you I need to role play the listing presentation?
A: Role playing a typical listing presentation takes about 20 minutes for one side to complete. When you are learning it, you need to role play the listing presentation every day in its entirety. Once you are comfortable with it, you can break it down into several logical parts and incorporate those parts into your daily role playing schedule. You need to role play the listing presentation from start to finish at least once every week.
Q: What should I focus on when role playing?
A: Making it conversational and listening to your partner’s comments. Write things down after every session. Write down any new objection handlers you hear and write down the comments. Make it a point to incorporate what you hear into your next role playing session. Don’t spend time on chitchat. Role play and comment, comment and role play. This is what your session is about.
Q: How long should my role playing session be?
A: From experience, it works out to be between 20 and 30 minutes. Within this time both you and your partner can have a go at it and comment on each other’s performance.
Q: Do I have to have my scripts memorized?
A: Yes. At the same time, keep them in front of you at all times. When role playing for actual prospecting calls. Your objective is to focus on the conversation. There are many things you need to also be constantly aware of when talking on the phone or in person. First of all you need to know the script structure for a particular engagement. You always want keep the script in front of your eyes, so you don’t get distracted trying to remember the next question to ask. You need to have a memorized toolbox of objection handlers - different for the phone or an in person conversation. They have to be delivered with assertiveness and a high level of confidence. The structure of every engagement from your end looks like this:
- Answer the question directly (if applicable)
- Ask your question, including the closing question
As you are progressing in your role playing, you should also be mindful of the personality of the lead you are talking to and change your approach, tonality and specific closes to the personality type on the other end of the line.
The main idea is to practice. Over time, you will have a deeper understanding and the working knowledge of the questions I am covering above, but also, you will uncover and answer many more that you encounter in your daily work.