I can’t imagine that a professional musician picks up a new piece of music and plays it for the first time in front of a live audience.  I wouldn’t expect an actor to take a new script and immediately walk on stage.

Professional athletes need the preseason to get back into shape.  When new coaching staffs take over and bring with them new playbooks, that means weeks of study, discussion, practice, more practice, etc.

And yet, somehow, we expect our sales reps to take our new messaging, new sales methodology, new product updates – and immediately get back on the phones.

If your sales reps are in essence practicing new ideas or messaging or talk tracks in front of live customers and prospects, you are doing everyone involved a disservice.

If your reps aren’t yet comfortable enough with your message, they will stumble…and they know it.  This leads to call reluctance at best, terrible and counter-productive prospect calls at worse.

Worse yet, your reps inherently know that taking new ideas straight to prospects on the phone isn’t a good idea either.  But the vast majority of sales organizations launch new scripts in a quarterly meeting or with a 15-20 minute introduction from a product or sales manager, then shove those reps right back into a live environment to “figure it out.”

Sales reps need practice just like everyone else.  They need to get familiar, comfortable and confident with the material you’ve just given them.  They need to adjust it in subtle ways to their own style, make it feel natural.

Sales practice should be part of your organizational rhythm.  It can be a combination of role-playing, formal practice sessions with managers, or simply recommending and rewarding reps taking time in front of a mirror, or recording their own simulated calls, to get game-ready.

The best athletes, musicians, actors and other professionals worldwide count on consistent practice to deliver consistent performances.  Don’t your sales professionals deserve the same?