Lesson:Laptop sales role-play

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You are free to use this role-play material in class. To see our complete list of ESL role-plays click here. For advice on using role-plays see our ESL role-play article. For help on editing the wiki see here.

Method[edit source]

  • 2 day exercise: day one dictation and preparation of roles, strategies and questions to ask; day 2 - role-playing and discussion

The lead-in consists of a dictation exercise for the last 10-15 minutes of a class. It serves as the background to the role-play and once correction of the dictation paragraph has been made, it should be discussed fully before going on to the role-play proper. Natural (?) pauses are marked /

Once the background has been dealt with, to prevent any suspicion of foul play, students pick their roles out of a "hat" and spend as long as they want to prepare their role, asking the teacher for help with any language if done as a classroom activity, or for homework.

Background[edit source]

Dictation: Until this time last year, / the British Computer Corporation enjoyed / a strong position as the sector leader. / You sell your own brands, / both laptops and desktops, / many of which are / household names, / in your own franchised stores as well as through other retail outlets, / including hypermarkets and discount stores. / There has been a steady drop in / sales of your star product, / the fastest laptop on the market. / The trend is worrying and / the managing director has called / an urgent meeting to study the / current situation and to / decide on what action to take / to ensure that it goes no further, / also inviting a consultant to attend. / Some questions some of you / might like to know the answers to / relate to the following issues: / quality - price - market trends - rivals - new products.

Roles[edit source]

Role 1[edit source]

You are the managing director. You are unhappy about the sales of the company’s laptops, as 2016 was the second year in which sales dropped. You want to know why. You are extremely concerned about this marking a possible downward trend of all the company’s products over the next few years. Some of the non-executive directors on your board are asking awkward questions. You have invited an award-winning designer to attend the meeting as a consultant.

Role 2[edit source]

You are the sales manager. You think that the main reason sales of laptops have dropped is the lack of promotion. You consider that you have not been provided with sufficient funds to maintain a high-profile advertising programme in a very competitive sector. You are sure that with an extra 1% spending on advertising, all the company’s other products will benefit from the domino effect. Your key statistic is that professionals who use laptops tend to upgrade, on average, once every five years, and that this could easily be reduced to once every two years with only a slight increase in marketing, through campaigns such as leasing, etc.

Role 3[edit source]

You are the marketing manager. You already spend what in your opinion is an excessive amount on publicity to maintain an artificially-high presence on the market, not only of this particular range of models, but of all your other models of computers, too. You are sure that the public is tired of the traditional image of PCs and is demanding a new concept. You predict a downward trend of all the company’s products over the next couple of years. You strongly recommend diversification into the cellphone sector. You do not think traditional marketing efforts apply to computers and all those free gift gimmicks, special offers etc. are not cost-effective.

Role 4[edit source]

You are the product manager. You know that to cut down on costs the company is using cheaper, lower quality clone components, but would prefer not to admit this. As the sales of other products have not fallen so much, you are sure that this is not the reason for the lower sales of laptops. You believe that sales forecasts were exaggerated and that as a result your factories are producing far more laptops than the market can absorb. This means that the models spend more time than is desirable on the market, having an obvious effect on consumers tired of seeing the same old models.

Role 5[edit source]

You are the personnel manager. You believe that high staff turnover and the consequent need to train new workers, at every stage of the design, production and sales processes is a major cause of the falling sales of your laptops. The fact is that the process of making laptops is more specialised, so the traditional high quality associated with your products has suffered due to workforce inexperience. Because of the competitive sector and ever-changing technologies, you would recommend setting up highly-specialised, multi-disciplinary teams for each of the company’s models. These teams would then be fully responsible for each and every stage of the product.

Role 6[edit source]

You are a designer hired by an outside consultancy. You are sure that the fall in sales of laptops is due to the presence of a new company having emerged in the last two years. This company, celltops.com, which markets heavily on using brightly-coloured, ultra-light tablets, has launched a new product, a tablet which doubles as a cellphone, digital camera, etc. It is fast becoming very popular, thus taking a large share of a previously stable market. You predict a downward trend of all the company’s products over the next couple of years. Your recommendation is to concentrate on designer laptops, lighter and with a less serious air to them than the traditional models.