The Sales Conversation Rule of 30
March 1, 2024
The Cringe Podcast - Episode 2 - Matt Cameron

Sellers need to practice a conversation 30 times before they begin to master it. Yes, 30 times.

An analysis of more than 700,000 sales training role play conversations revealed that 30 repetitions is the magic number to begin seeing a significant increase in performance.

Hence The Rule of 30. In 2023 Sales Educators’ Academy noted that  it typically requires approximately 40 role play conversations to achieve mastery.


Getting in 30 reps is not easy.

Sales managers have competing priorities and about 10% of managers admit to not doing any training or coaching. There are many reasons managers and sellers don’t prioritize training, but ultimately, it boils down to this: they don’t believe the effort they put in will result in a significant improvement.

Feedback is inconsistent between managers and sellers. Relationship or personality challenges create distrust and potential resentment. Additionally, managers are often not prepared to role play or coach, and even when they are, fatigue sets in and there are only so many hours in a workday. So, what should sales leaders keep in mind to effectively help sellers move the needle in their training programs? Training, especially sales training, should be rooted in the science of learning.



Sales Training Rooted in the Science of Learning.

Sellers, like many adult learners, get more out of learning when they have some control and a sense of agency. Simply telling sellers to practice more and scheduling role plays in the office or online doesn’t work. Providing sellers with control over the location, duration, frequency and time of training can be a game changer, especially for sellers who have many competing priorities. Providing sellers with access to mobile technologies to do this can help. Bottom line: if you want to get to 30 or more repetitions, give sellers more control, give them choices.

Sellers need to apply the learning when training in order to apply the learning when they engage in conversation with customers. It is not enough to tell sellers what to say and to memorize a talk track. Sellers have productive conversations when they are confident and they pitch when they are unprepared. A meaningful sales conversation is not a pitch. 

Sellers need time to practice active-listening skills and use cognitive thinking to understand client challenges at a deeper level. They need practice asking probing questions that offer insights to help clients understand the value the seller’s solutions can deliver. This doesn’t come from passing a certification. It can come after many years of experience, or it can come with practice, so sellers don’t need to churn through dozens of potential clients to get there.   

Agency and application alone are not enough. Maintaining the level of engagement and motivation that are required to reach a level of mastery are critical and luckily, decades of adult-learning research provides additional insights and recommendations on how to accomplish this.


Realistic and Relevant to Real-World Application

First, focus on keeping training realistic and relevant to real-world application. Most effective training scenarios mimic how the customer talks and probes their challenges. The more the seller believes the training will result in performance improvements with clients, the more they will lean into training. 


Timely and Constructive Feedback

Second, provide timely and constructive feedback. While practicing role plays is better than not practicing, the feedback provides a boost in seller learning and performance. When feedback is delivered to sellers in a way that is constructive, focuses on the process, with specific recommendations for mastery and in an environment that is perceived as safe, the greater the performance boost. Encourage sellers to use purposeful practice to get the most out of each round of feedback. This means understanding the insights, identifying how to make improvements and designing a plan for the next round of conversations. When you get this right, both sellers and managers see the time as a valuable investment. 


Remove Distractions

Third, remove distractions from the learning environment where possible. When the lighting is too bright or dim, the volume of the speaker is too low or loud, emails and messages constantly ding, or something just feels off like the buyer seems disingenuous or inauthentic, learners often lean out of the learning and use their cognitive resources to think about other things rather than focusing on the conversation. Other variables can also distract learners such as nervousness while practicing with someone in power. When nerves get in the way, learners may spend more time doubting themselves than thinking about the sales methodology and training.  


Customize Training

Finally, customize training. The research shows learners prefer training that is customized to their specific learning needs. This means training should be optimized at the individual level. If a novice seller starts a role-play conversation with a challenging customer and has been given no skills and strategies or previous practice, they may quickly become overwhelmed and withdraw from the experience or even the role. Role play can be intimidating, especially when it is done with a manager and the seller is new. Managers can adapt to the skill level of the seller to offer coaching advice and provide more challenging conversations to more experienced sellers to keep them engaged. That is, if the managers are well practiced themselves and well versed in the client profile and conversations.

While this can all be intimidating, especially considering fatigue and personality challenges, there are other ways to provide consistent practice. Automated role plays offer sellers a chance to practice unlimited conversations. Adaptive game mechanics can meet the sellers at their level of experience, challenging them along the way. While automated role plays give sellers the essential repetition they need and can keep sellers engaged when they use adaptive game mechanics, carefully examine your options because not all automated role plays are equal.


Questions to Consider Before Using Automated Role Play

  •       Which conversations need improvement?
  •       Do you have a successful sales methodology? Or, do you need help refining it?
  •       Is the platform aligned with your sales methodology?
  •       Does the platform provide a personalized experience to mimic conversations accurately?
  •       How distracting is the learning platform and conversation?
  •       Does the platform provide feedback in the form of meaningful insights?      

Once you know what to do, you will be better prepared to enable your team to leverage The Power of 30.



This content was created by Stefanie Boyer

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