The Mock Call: An Exercise to Take Sales Reps to the Next Level

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October 14th, 2020.
The Mock Call: An Exercise to Take Sales Reps to the Next Level

A solid, carefully coordinated dry run is a big help in any context. Having a feel for what to expect, what can go wrong, and what you need to do better makes literally any situation run more smoothly — and sales calls are no exception.

As a salesperson, you don't want to go into a call blindly — especially if you're newer to the game. You want to have your feet beneath you to set yourself up for success. And as a sales manager, you want to do everything in your power to put your reps in that position.

That's why mock calls — practice calls conducted by sales managers — are so crucial. They provide a forum for reps to understand what's to come and how to appropriately handle common issues as they arise.

Here, we'll get a feel for how to conduct a mock call and some of the scenarios that they can cover.

A well-executed mock call is an excellent opportunity for you to get a better feel for your reps' strengths and weaknesses. You can see, first-hand, what they're doing well and where they have room to grow when interacting with prospects and customers.

Salespeople operating at any level, in virtually any position, stand to gain a lot from carrying out mock calls. As I mentioned, they're dry runs — low-stakes activities that can build out reps' skill sets while allowing them to pinpoint the aspects of their efforts that need work and attention.

Still, mock calls being "low stakes" doesn't mean they shouldn't be taken seriously. If you want to get the most out of these exercises, you have to commit. Here are some tips on how to conduct an effective mock call.

1. Determine a character and commit to it.

Your mock calls have to be done with intention and direction. You have to have a clear goal in mind when conducting these exercises — that means choosing a character that's appropriate for the specific type of call you're conducting and committing to it.

Who are you supposed to be? What's your position? What specific challenges come with your industry and role within it? What does your day-to-day look like? Answer these questions — and any others that would shape how you approach a sales call — and act accordingly.

Once you have those factors ironed out and start your call, commit to your character. Don't break — no matter how uncomfortable or strange it might seem.

Ultimately, these exercises are for your reps and their professional development. If you don't take them seriously and completely engage in them, you're undermining their growth as salespeople.

2. Conduct the full call without interruption.

These calls have to be as realistic as possible if you want to get the most out of them, so you can't stop every now and then to offer pointers, compliments, or critiques. Let every call run its course. See how your reps react to getting flustered or being put on their heels.

Again, these calls are for them to gain experience and develop professionally. They won't have you looking over their shoulder offering real-time insight every time they conduct a real sales call. Give them space to naturally excel or make mistakes. You'll have time to give pointed advice after exercise is over.

3. Record the call.

Both you and your reps stand to gain a lot from recording the call. When you offer your praise and criticism, it helps to have the actual content of the call in front of you. You don't have to base your assessment on memory or take extensive notes throughout that might interfere with the flow of the exercise.

It can also help reps to have a definitive reference for where they have the most room for improvement. It's constructive for them to explicitly see the most effective language they used, questions and topics that made them stumble, and what they shouldn't say when talking to actual prospects.

4. Make sure the degree of call difficulty is in keeping with your reps' experience.

I know keep saying it, but these exercises are for your reps' professional development — and that process is incremental. Make sure these calls are relevant to the rep's responsibilities and in keeping with their experience.

You don't want to throw a new SDR into the deep end by conducting a mock call as a combative C-Level executive, and you don't want to go over a mild-mannered cold call with a seasoned AE.

Your mock calls should become more challenging and high-stakes as your reps continue to refine their skills and take on new responsibilities. Keep that trend in mind because over- or under-selling a rep's abilities with a mock call don't do much to help them grow.

As I mentioned earlier, reps at any level can get a lot out of a mock call, so they can be used to simulate almost any scenario. Here are some of the most common ones they can be applied to.

1. Run-of-the-Mill Cold Call

As you can assume, this kind of mock call works best for SDRs and other newer reps just getting their feet wet in sales. This scenario helps them get acquainted with call aspects like introductions, objection-handling, and the specific messaging your company uses.

2. Prospect Demanding a Discount

This mock call scenario can be used to challenge reps at any level. It's an opportunity to put them in a position where they have to clearly articulate your value proposition.

They need to show that they truly understand why your offering is worth its price. It also provides a chance for your reps to demonstrate their ability to remain composed when dealing with agitated, difficult prospects.

3. Interacting with C-Suite Executives

This kind of call is reserved for seasoned reps who are going to be touching base and negotiating with executives and other legitimate decision-makers. Make sure they're thoroughly prepared for the call and press them to speak with confidence, authority, and decisiveness.

4. Dealing with an Irate Prospect

This particular mock call scenario can work for sales reps at any level. Dealing with not-so-nice prospects is a reality of sales life — for everyone from SDRs to AEs to field sales reps. Like the discount-demanding mock call I described earlier, this exercise is meant to test a rep's ability to remain composed in a tricky situation.

See if they can still effectively convey the key points of your value proposition and whether they ask the right questions to get contact information from someone else within your "mock corporation."

When done right, a mock call can be an incredibly effective exercise that yields meaningful results and improves your reps' sales skills and composure. No matter the nature of your business or scale of your team, you stand to gain a lot by walking your reps through these kinds of conversations.

If your reps make calls to prospects, they need to practice — mock calls are one of the best forums for that.