Boosting sales performance through a simulation-based approach

Being a sales manager is like being a coach of a sports team: when the team is underperforming, the coach is made responsible for it. Consequently, roles and responsibilities of a sales manager are very diverse and complex: apart from sales performance, they have to focus on motivation of the team as a whole and implement a personalized training plan of each sales employee. Training with business simulations is an innovative way to get prepared for all these challenges and to boost sales performance of the company. But what are the main advantages of this approach and how could it contribute to improving the sales team’s performance? 

Sales manager training requires the opportunity to practice the business and account profiling approach while aligning it with their individual styles and strengths as a manager, a leader and a coach. A pure theoretical approach will not work effectively for such a skill set. A business simulation takes the advantages of gamified learning to the next level by creating a safe environment where real-life business scenarios can be practiced. This contributes to the significant enhancement of an employee’s diverse skills necessary to perform better as a sales manager. 

How does this approach work? 

Business simulations are model-based depictions of companies or their sub-areas, in which participants take the role of a company management. They provide the safe environment where the key skills of a successful sales manager can be developed. Simulations also enable sustainable learning as they allow the practical use of theoretical knowledge.

The simulation is set up to be played over several rounds, so that participants can see, understand and debrief the results of their decisions. The management simulation is customized according to the real marketplace and business environment the organization faces.

In order to develop sales managers effectively, a specific sales simulation should cover the following topics:

  1. Account Management: define a clear strategic and operative plan for each customer
  2. People Management: train, lead, support and coach the team
  3. Resource Management: assign the right sales representative to the account and manage time spent on the account effectively

Why are business simulations so effective?

Participants get the chance to experience firsthand the value of exchanging best practices, learning in the company context and finding the right approach together and not as individuals. Management simulations tackle a skill set which is crucial for sales managers: collaboration, networking and creating synergies. 

Participants practice debriefing what went well and what did not, which is a key process for achieving sustainable success within the organization. In addition, sales simulations can not only be used to develop sales managers, but also to create the big picture for key account managers, sales consultants or sales reps.

What skills do we develop through this approach?

In order to play their role well, sales managers need a combination of business, leadership and process knowledge. The trick of a sustainable sales performance is not only evaluating the business development potential of the account but also finding the right rep. Thus, sales representatives need to be developed, coached and supported by the sales manager according with their experience, motivation and capacity. Furthermore, it is important to ensure that the value proposition, sales strategy and pricing scheme are in alignment with the business potential and strategic positioning of the account.

The six key skills of a successful sales manager, which can be developed through a simulation based-approach, can be summarized as follows:

  • Leadership (spending the time to motivate sales reps in alignment with their individual profiles as well as the overall strategy)
  • Managing for results (making realistic and accurate projections on sales performance and results)
  • Coaching (moving from a sales role to a coaching role of a sales team)
  • Deployment of resources (making the right decisions in terms of time spent on accounts and attributing the right sales representatives)
  • Account valuation (collecting data and assessing accounts and their potential)
  • Customer targeting (defining a clear value proposition and aligning the pricing and offer with the needs and potential of each account)

This concept has received a Gold Brandon Hall Award in 2019 because of the measurable result this framework and training concept has achieved. It is one more proof on how powerful a business and management simulation based approach is for sustainable learning and development.

Angela Vale-Feigl

Angela Vale-Feigl

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