Name Tag Sales Training Icebreaker

I’m often asked to help with icebreaker ideas, especially sales training icebreakers.

My wife introduced me to this one several years ago when we both worked at a youth center. It’s a fun icebreaker for any audience, but it brings additional meaning and opportunities for debriefing when used as a sales training icebreaker.  

Materials: Name tags for each participant

Time: 15-45 minutes (depending on how many participants and how much time you have available)

Step 1: Introductions

Instruct participants to break up into pairs and introduce themselves. You can prepare specific questions if you’d like. For example: what’s your name, what’s your hometown, what organization do you work for, what’s your tenure, what’s something that nobody else in the room knows about you?

Allow pairs about 3 minutes or so to share information about themselves.

Step 2: The Name Tag Exchange

Instruct participants to take off their own name tag and exchange it with their partner. They are now to find a new partner and they should assume the identity of the person they were just speaking with (hopefully they were paying attention to their first partners’ answers).

Name Tag Switch Sales Training Icebreaker

Step 3: Repeat the Name Tag Exchange

Repeat this process several times, depending on how much time you have available. At the end of each rotation, participants should swap name tags and assume the identity of the person whose name tag they are wearing.

Step 4: Back to Their Seats (but keep the last name tag)

Ask participants to return to their seats. Find a volunteer to begin and ask him/her to introduce self according to the name tag he/she is wearing. Find the person who actually owns that name tag and verify the accuracy of this introduction. Then that person will share the information about the person whose name tag he/she has. Continue to go around, introducing and verifying information until everyone has been introduced.

Step 5: Debrief the Sales Training Icebreaker:

  • How accurate were others’ descriptions of your details?
  • What do you think accounted for the differences between what people said about you and how you first introduced yourself?
  • Do you feel you were more likely to be paying attention the second time you rotated and introduced yourselves? Why?
  • What does this activity have to do with what we’re going to be discussing in today’s session?

As I mentioned, I’ve used this icebreaking activity in a lot of different settings, but I really like it as a sales training icebreaker because of the basic importance that salespeople have when it comes to the need to pay attention to the person in front of them. If salespeople aren’t paying attention to the small details, it’s very easy to miss out on an opportunity to make a sale.

What is your go-to icebreaking activity?  Do you have activities you prefer as sales training icebreakers?

4 thoughts on “Name Tag Sales Training Icebreaker

  1. I hate icebreakers. Give me the training info and let me out. There is no reason to get chummy with people I will never see again. Knowing that Jill from Supply is a twin and Larry the Custodian has six kids does nothing to enhance my ability to do my job. Forcing us to do embarrassing things or furnish personal info to people we don’t know is not productive.

    • What an odd, random set of grievances to post here, but I gotta say, I agree. Who wants to do embarrassing things?

      The idea of an icebreaker in a professional development setting is to make sure you’re familiar with both the people you will be asked to interact with throughout the session and, if well-designed, to also get you beginning to engage with the concepts to be taught.

      If your job is in sales (which was the context for the activity described in this post), then it certainly is part of your job to have the skills to know other people, know what’s important to them, and build a relationship that may will also involve figuring out ways to help solve problems they may have at work. You really can’t help solve people’s work problems if they don’t trust you.

      Beyond sales, I’m not actually familiar with too many roles that you can actually do 100% independently without ever having to work with someone else. If a professional development setting is designed to be a microcosm of real life, then engaging in tasks in which you need to work together or build relationships with others is pretty essential.

      Your philosophy may be that you don’t need to get to know anyone else to do your job well. Perhaps that’s true (I’m just glad I don’t have to work with you!).

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