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Role players help win new business at Grant Thornton


Grant Thornton, the business adviser, is using professional role players to help it win new business.

The firm has been working with Steps Role Play, the drama-based training company, since 1995. Steps now provide role players to supplement 30-40 days of training per year, ranging from sales training and influencing skills to partner development.

“Much of our work is won after competitive tenders and presentations against other providers,” said Gaby O’Rourke, Sales & Marketing Training Manager for Grant Thornton in the UK. “It’s vital that our professional staff present themselves well as a team and conduct themselves proficiently on these occasions.”

To help people prepare for the experience, Grant Thornton uses professional role players from Steps to act as prospective clients. Teams of Grant Thornton managers meet with the ‘client’ to ascertain their needs. Then, two weeks later the teams come back to present a prepared proposal to win that client’s business.

“We make it as close to real-life as possible,” said Gaby O’Rourke. “The teams do genuinely compete for the work and Steps will choose a winner afterwards. It’s a very realistic simulation of the whole new business process.”

Gaby O’Rourke says that drama-based training turns traditional development on its head. “It brings issues to life and makes the learning far more practical and relevant,” she said. “With Steps, you don’t have to script role plays, you just give them a verbal picture of a situation and they’re extremely competent at getting into that role. They also provide helpful feedback to our managers about how they felt as clients during the role plays.”

Steps began by role playing intermediaries, such as bankers and solicitors, to enable Grant Thornton’s insolvency practitioners practice their networking and follow-up skills. They were subsequently introduced to other managerial and partner-related programmes which are still ongoing.

“We have to give our professional staff the skills and confidence to listen to our clients, see the wider picture, realise the implications and be pro-active in making recommendations,” said Gaby O’Rourke. “By role playing clients, Steps help with this aim because they can interject all sorts of under-the-surface issues and scenarios that our managers should be picking up on. They provide tangible help in developing the key skills we need to take our business forward.”

For more details, please call Richard Wilkes at Steps Role Play on 020-7403 9000 or see

Background notes – Grant Thornton is a leading business advisor to owner-managed businesses. With over 40 UK offices, and representation in over 100 countries, it provides a comprehensive range of business advisory services throughout the UK and worldwide. It aims to help growing, entrepreneurial businesses achieve their ambitions – whether local, national or overseas – by offering practical and imaginative advice.

Established in 1992, Steps Role Play specialises in drama-based development. Based in London, it designs and produces personalised drama-based training programmes, workshops and interactive theatre productions and it brings these to life using professional actors. It also provides professional role players to enhance existing courses.

Michael Dawson

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