Role Play 101

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During a recent group coaching session, Claude, a relatively new client of mine, posed an interesting question to me; in fact, it was one that I had never heard from any of my clients before. As we were finishing up that afternoon’s session, each adviser was to offer a “single take-away” from the discussion. Claude immediately jumped in with a question instead of a statement. “Do you think we could role play this material next week instead of moving onto the next topic? I want to make sure I fully understand it and implement it.”

Excited at the prospect, I deferred to the group to see if they had any interest. They were unanimous in their agreement.  Knowing that it would be best to do this while it was fresh in their minds rather than waiting seven days, I suggested we meet at the same time the following day. Surprisingly, even on such short notice, everyone said they would be available! After eight years of coaching financial advisors, I’ve come to expect the unexpected, but this piqued my curiosity.

I typically role play with my clients during individual coaching sessions but never during group sessions, so was curious to see how this would go. Role playing learned material with an advisor can help them understand how to apply the material much more effectively than just reading and discussing it can. However, having eight financial advisors take turns role playing and critiquing one another was uncharted territory, even for me.

The subject matter we had been working with was Questions-Based Selling, a process for asking the right questions to potential clients.

As we began group role play the following day, I summarized what we had covered the previous day, and then mapped out the process, allowing each advisor ten minutes to role play. The “prospect” (played by one of the advisors) was to act as if it was a first appointment with an advisor and could take the conversation in any direction they chose. On the other side, the actual advisor was to direct their questions using the material we had discussed the day before.

Claude was the first to volunteer and it didn’t take long before I had written a page of notes critiquing both the good and the bad points of his technique. The other group members were taking notes as well, which made for a much better discussion. Then, one-by-one, they each took turns playing the role of the financial advisor.

After an hour and a half, everyone had finished and they were again faced with my signature closing question, “What was your single take-away?”

Claude was eager to share, “I learned more by applying the material and being critiqued than I ever have by just reading the material and trying to apply it by myself.” He went on to say that the “group role play allows for you to hear the nuances of what other advisors are saying and what works and what doesn’t”.

As a result of this successful dialogue, I am setting up a series of role play coaching sessions for all of my clients to help them experience the importance of actually implementing what they have learned into their daily interactions with prospects and clients.  All advisors should take advantage of a colleague or mentor and ask them to do the same.  It is so easy to get into a comfortable routine with what you say or how you share information with your clients. Continually practicing with your peers is a great way to keep your conversations sharp, relevant and genuine.

Daniel C. Finley
President
Advisor Solutions Inc.
St. Paul, Minn.

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