Role-Playing for Sales Managers Role Playing Games

According to a 2010 study almost 65% of young Sales Managers Role-played their upcoming negotiation as preparation for the real thing.

Role-playing is a generic term, covering everything from improvised “devil’s advocate”-methods to Mock negotiations against a composite (average) counterpart. All of these approaches are great for learning general negotiation skills, but faced with a specific Sales-situation, only one role-play method will do – Negotiation War Gaming.

A Negotiation War Game is a structured, Competitive Intelligence driven, role-play simulation of a forthcoming negotiation. The point of doing a Negotiation War Game is to improve your negotiation strategy, by predicting your counterpart’s moves, locating weak/strong-points and developing and testing alternative negotiation strategies.

In other words it is the “go to”-method if you are serious about your negotiation preparation for an upcoming Sales negotiation.

So, how do you do it? – It is actually not that hard.

A Negotiation War Game has 3 main steps:


To conduct a Negotiation War Game you need (at least) 2 people. Create a Home Team and an Away Team. The Home Team represents your company and the Away Team represents the counterpart.

Once you have organized the teams you need to create some Briefing material. To do a Negotiation War Game you need to write a short case-description, detailing what the upcoming negotiation is about.

Once you have written your case-description, you can move on an write a short role-description on each of the negotiators participating in the actual negotiation. But remember keep it short!

This concludes you Briefing material, which you will hand out to the simulation participants before you begin the actual role-playing.

Before you can start role-playing you need to organize your role-play simulations. Don’t just do one simulation and call it a day! A true Negotiation War Game consists of a series of short-medium simulations in rapid succession (separated by strategy-breaks).

The short, fast simulations will keep the participants on their toes, while the strategy-breaks gives the participants a chance to collect lessons learned and develop their strategy further. (The more advanced Role-Players may want to use a feedback-system).

To conduct a simulation you need (at least) 2 people. Create a Home Team and an Away Team. The Home Team represents your company and the Away Team represents the counterpart. Once you have done this you need to create some briefing material.


Once you have organized the simulations you are ready to go. You are now ready to hand out your briefing material and lay down the rules (if you have any). I would suggest that you always go for the most realistic set up – what goes at the real negotiation, goes at your simulation.

During the simulation it is a good idea to record your Negotiation War Game simulation on video. This will most often hold pure gold when you review it. I will get back to that later.

Try to collect as much Intelligence/information from the role-play simulation as possible. The more information you collect during simulation, the more interesting the debriefing will be.


At the debriefing you want to collect all the lessons learned by the participants. What strategies worked? Which didn’t? Etc. etc. During your debriefing your video recording of the role-play is gold. You can go back and see specific incidents in detail and hopefully sharpen your strategy even more.

War Game Report:

Once the debriefing is over, all Lessons Learned can be gathered in a final War Game-report – detailing a new, calibrated & tailor made negotiation strategy.