Sales Training Using Role-Play Simulations And AI

Sales Training Using Role-Play Simulations And AI
Summary: It can be a challenge to design sales training that provides a realistic and individualized experience to thousands of learners. Car Wars, a call tracking and phone solutions provider for car dealerships, partnered with Cinecraft Productions, a custom learning solutions company, to solve this problem using role-play eLearning simulations and AI to create a more personalized learning experience.

How Realistic Role-Play Simulations And AI Transformed An Outdated Sales Course

Car Wars

With over three decades of experience, Car Wars is the automotive industry's most innovative and robust phone traffic management solution. Car Wars brings deep industry knowledge to provide premium call tracking, texting, and phone solutions to car dealerships. These essential phone-handling tools help dealers "own the phone" and dominate the market.

Cinecraft Productions

Cinecraft Productions is a global custom learning solutions company that supports the performance goals of clients by bringing the learner as close to the skill and behaviors to be learned as possible. Since opening its doors in 1939, Cinecraft has worked on thousands of projects in virtually every industry imaginable. In many cases, this has made them not just experts at what they do, but experts at what their clients do.


The telephone is a new-car salesperson's most useful tool to generate appointments and provide a best-in-class car buying experience. When salespeople are poorly trained, they fail to convert opportunities over the phone into showroom appointments. To assist salespeople in developing critical phone-handling skills, Car Wars released a unique training program called CRISP Phone Training. CRISP, which stands for Connect, Request/Invite, Set an Appointment, and Pursue, helps dealers deliver an exceptional customer experience on every call by utilizing the Car Wars phone system effectively to convert calls into appointments, and ultimately sell more new cars.

The course was provided as Instructor-Led (ILT) and Virtual Instructor-Led (VILT) training to dealerships that purchased the Car Wars phone system. It relied largely on peer-to-peer role-play exercises to improve appointment-setting performance over the phone. While these offerings were effective, they did not provide efficient, on-demand options for dealerships to educate new salespeople at the point of hire. Since these sessions were held only once or twice a year, new salespeople often had to wait up to six months to receive this training. It was also challenging to deliver a consistent experience for learners because not every location had a training facility. The learning experiences varied from exceptional to terrible based on the venue and engagement level of the store managers. These issues, in addition to the cost of running in-person sessions, made it difficult to scale the training across thousands of dealerships. Since new salespeople could not be trained right away and there was no consistent feedback or reinforcement of the CRISP content, dealerships were losing sales opportunities.


Following a lengthy RFP process, Car Wars chose to partner with Cinecraft Productions to convert the existing training to eLearning. The goals of the updated program were to:

  1. Provide a scalable, on-demand solution to replace the outdated ILT and VILT training that Car Wars already offered,
  2. Increase learners' performance related to the CRISP behaviors, and
  3. Generate more appointments that lead to new-car sales.

To keep the course short, focused, and engaging, Cinecraft recommended a blended approach that included an animated introduction video, role-play simulations, and a job aid detailing the CRISP process. Learners begin their journey with a fun and light-hearted introduction video that shows the wrong way to answer the telephone in a dealership. The blend of characters and sound effects adds a storytelling component. The majority of the content, such as details about the CRISP process and other sales skills, is delivered in the CRISP Tip Sheet. By presenting this information in an easy-to-access PDF, learners can reference the information at any point during or after completing the course based on their skill level and confidence.

In the role-play simulations, learners focus on practicing the CRISP process and behaviors by applying the knowledge and skills they learned in the introduction video and CRISP Tip Sheet. The authentic phone call simulations are broken into 3–5 questions that are written to reflect the real workflow and conversations salespeople have with customers. Each question tests the learner's ability to handle common objections and customer questions for both inbound and outbound calls. To create realistic dialogue and outcomes for the simulations, Cinecraft listened to real recorded calls, watched past webinars, and referenced call tracking data from 2000+ automotive dealerships in North America. Cinecraft used this information to interview Car Wars' Subject Matter Experts and build a scenario grid to outline each simulation. To add more intrinsic motivation to the simulations, Cinecraft added game mechanics, including three levels of difficulty, a customer satisfaction meter, scoring, and a timer.

The first level of difficulty, Level 1, provides corrective feedback and sets the learner back on the correct path when they choose an incorrect response. These simulations include minimal customer objections so the learner can focus on connecting with the customer, requesting and inviting them to visit the dealership, and setting an appointment time.

Level 2 provides feedback through a customer satisfaction meter that goes up or down based on how the learner conducts the conversation. Learners also receive formal feedback similar to Level 1. Level 2 also includes more customer objections.

Level 3 adds a timer to make the simulations more challenging. The timer pressures learners to answer as quickly as they might in real life when balancing phone calls and in-person customers. These simulations also include some branching to show learners what happens if they choose the wrong path for the conversations. If learners fail a simulation in Level 3, the customer leaves the conversation without scheduling an appointment and learners receive formal feedback. If they fail or run out of time, they must start over.

After they complete the course and are CRISP-Certified, Car Wars monitors Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) related to the CRISP behaviors. When certain KPIs are not met, the simulations may be reassigned to help the salesperson improve their call performance. If salespeople do not have enough inbound call data to measure performance and their outbound KPIs drop below the standard, then Module 5 is assigned. Module 5 contains the last step of CRISP, Pursue, which requires the learner to reach out to new and existing customers instead of answering the phone.


Scalable And On-Demand

By converting the existing ILT and VILT training to eLearning, Car Wars can now easily deliver its CRISP Phone Training to thousands of dealerships instantly. New hires can complete the training on their first day and go back any time they need to refresh their skills. Dealerships can also provide remedial training to established salespeople as soon as the need arises. This is particularly effective with geographically dispersed sales teams where in-person training is difficult to schedule.


One factor that makes this training program unique and effective is the ongoing reinforcement and measurable accountability linked to learners' performance on the job. Based on KPIs, learners may be prompted to retake a targeted portion of the course to maintain their certification status. Since the initial launch of the new eLearning course, Car Wars added Artificial Intelligence (AI) coaching to the CRISP Phone Training. To create the AI coach, Car Wars trained a large language model (LLM) using the storyboards and other content created by Cinecraft about the CRISP process and behaviors. This information, combined with all of the recorded calls that Car Wars has access to, allows the AI coach to provide feedback to salespeople right after a call with a customer. Car Wars is currently training the AI coach to direct salespeople to the appropriate CRISP Phone Training modules if they need further practice.

Delivering a consistent and effective sales training program across a wide range of dealerships at scale is challenging.  With Cinecraft's instructional design process we were able to consolidate and repackage our content into virtual simulation courses that enable salespeople to practice real-world customer scenarios and learn critical phone skills before they speak with actual customers.  We're seeing dramatic improvement in CRISP metrics for those stores that engage with the training platform. As a result, we've expanded this into our Service offering. We've also utilized the instructional design to help build prompts for our AI (large language model call coaching). We are now synching AI call coaching for both sales and service with targeted course assignments.

– Ryan Pitz, VP of Training, Car Wars


Based on one year of call data obtained by Car Wars from a sample of 189 dealerships, the CRISP Phone Training update was successful in achieving its goals. These 189 dealerships were selected because they met or exceeded benchmark standards set by Car Wars in all four CRISP categories. Of these 189 dealerships, 78 were identified as the top-performing CRISP dealerships in North America. Of those 78 dealerships, 20 utilized the CRISP Phone Training platform to train, reinforce, and hold their team accountable for phone skills.

The dealerships that utilized the training platform realized a much higher yield from their phone calls compared to those that did not adopt or failed to enforce training and course assignment requirements. This data implies that dealerships implementing CRISP Phone Training can get more from their existing marketing spend by converting more of the available customer calls they're already getting compared to those less efficient/effective dealerships that do not train or hold their teams accountable and are thus failing to take full advantage of good leads.

Due to the success of the CRISP Phone Training, Car Wars and Cinecraft teamed up again to create a version of this program for car dealership service departments. The structure of the CRISP Service Training matches the sales training, including a brief introduction video, a PDF resource, and three levels of customer call simulations. Similar to the sales training, the service training simulations focus on customer service behaviors and setting firm appointments with customers.


Overall, the updated CRISP Phone Training offers on-demand learning and reduced seat time while continuing to engage learners in a results-focused learning experience. By saving time and offering a more personalized experience, this training has proven to be a win-win-win for car dealerships, salespeople, and Car Wars. Car Wars continues to look ahead and further integrate AI solutions into the learning experience.

For more information on the training, you may contact Cinecraft Productions.