3 Reasons Why Your Sales Reps Need a Safe Place to Fail

Have you been in this room?

“Ok let’s break up into small groups. You and uh you. You’re the client and ah you- you’re the rep. The rest of you guys watch carefully, we are going to discuss everything these guys say.”


Whether you are playing the rep, the client, or the audience- role play with your co-workers typically isn’t the most comfortable space, because it is not a safe place to fail.

But why would your team need a safe place to fail?

  1. Training rooms don’t have baggage check

The dynamic between colleagues in a role-play situation, and rep and potential client are totally different because pre-existing relationships follow reps into the training room. Sales reps are some of the most competitive people in business.

That competition can translate into a less-than supportive environment. Interactions between people who not only compete for business, but also are aware of each other’s faults are loaded with pre-existing expectations and emotions.

    2.     Playing to the Crowd

When salespeople try to create a simulation, or live role-play, the result is the scene often jumps to a worst-case objection scenario that goes typically goes 2 ways: comedic or adversarial.

When the room is full of tension more aggressive salespeople- especially when in the “power position” roleplaying the client- will go overboard creating a highly explosive scenario that is rare in real life. This sales rep is playing to the crowd, asserting his or her power over colleagues while co-workers watching the scenario play out are busy dreading their turn, instead of focusing on developing sales skills.

Naturally social people will try to break the training room tension with humor. Drawing laughs from an audience is not a realistic part of the sales process, but reps will seek shelter in the safety of humor when they don’t feel safe.

     3.      Free mistakes

When will they try a new tactic if not in the training room? In front of a client. Once a deal goes south, it’s very difficult to recover. Who pays for that? The whole organization.

In reality, deals can go right- or wrong- a thousand ways. How will reps know which paths they can go down if they are afraid to try a new route? The only way to give your reps the tools they need to successfully prospect, communicate and close is to give them a safe place to fail. Somewhere where they can make all the mistakes they would like.

Have you devised creative solutions to sales training in an effort to create a “safe” space for learning and failure? Leave a comment with your tips!