Sales Skills Definition

Note: Article republished from The Digital Sales Institute 

Creating a sales skills definition is unique to every business as they need to reflect the overall sales strategy alongside the expected sales activities of the salespeople.  Sales skills differ depending on inside V outside customer facing sales plus which part of the sales process a salesperson is involved with. Technology, social media, the internet and the digitally connected buyer has in effect driven the change in how we apply sales skills definition to a sales role.

sales-skills-definition

Sales Skills Definition

This will be personal to each business. However, an overarching sales skills definition is the specific set of sales skills (prospecting, cold calling, nurturing, engaging, presenting, negotiating, closing etc) and knowledge (product, markets, trends, business etc) a salesperson possess to enact the exchange of value between a buyer and the vendor.

Sales Skills Reflect the Business Environment

Sales skills will always reflect the prevailing environment and the buyer’s acceptance of how they interact with the purchasing process. Let me explain further, once upon a time door to door sales was a dominant channel in both B2B and B2C. So, the prevailing environment was to enact sales via “the travelling salesman”. If you were to ask John Henry Patterson (probably the father of sales) back in early parts of the 20th century for a sales skills definition he may have stated skills that reflected a door to salesperson.  Firm handshake, storyteller, manipulator, friendly, can convince, pushy, ability to take rejection and a persuader could be some of the skills he would mention.
My point here is that sales skills reflect the company’s sales strategy and business model. So, when it comes to creating a sales skills definition consideration must be given to how the business operates, potential customers preference for buying, ethos, channels and product complexity. The hiring profile and training of sales people should reflect the skills definition as laid out in a sales playbook or strategy.

Let’s compare the sales skills of a door to door salesperson with a modern sales professional when it comes to sales prospecting. For the door to door salesperson it would start with the knock on the door (not too aggressive), their opening lines, the handshake, the smile, their body language, how they were dressed, the opening pitch etc. For the modern sales professional doing sales prospecting what are the skills you would expect?

Future Sales Skills Definition

Some of the traditional skills still hold true, however skills such as ability to research, use of data, multi-channel activity, nurturing relationships and value exchange have replaced many of the interruption sales skills employed by the door to door salesman. This is being driven by social media, data, connectivity, educated buyers and technology that requires a transformation to how many companies sell. These changes will require sales skills that go way beyond the traditional selling tactics.

Skills that make buying easier. Research shows that the educated, savvy and connected buyers want the whole buying process to be easier more rewarding, informative and fulfilling.  Business needs to consider what sales skills salespeople are being trained on that reflects this new reality.

Buyers want to engage for longer term value that goes beyond the product. They want to do business with sellers who really understand the “what, why, and when” of their needs. Selling will become more collaborative and intelligent.

To bring this extra value to buyers, companies need to invest in sales training for salespeople so they can educate and nurture customers on needs they do not know they have. Yes, social media, social selling, inbound marketing and digital connectivity is making it easier to engage with customers more cost effectively. But do sales skills and sales techniques reflect the current environment is a good starting question.

sales-skills

Sales Skills Definition for Sales 3.0

Salespeople need to have empathy and ability to really understand a customer’s needs.

The skill to engage comfortable with a customer at their level and on their terms.

Ability to add value to the customer at every stage of the process, leaving aside self-interest.

Skilled at active listening along with asking discovery questions to uncover business challenges.

The salesperson can create a vision for the value that their product will bring to the customer.

Can build rapport, tell stories and sell their personality, because even in this digital world, people still buy people.

Business acumen, the salesperson has a genuine interest in how business works.

They are trained to know that sales negotiation is a process not an event, so they constantly use the 3Ps of selling – Prepare, Probe, and Propose.

Is credible and understands how to build credibility and add value to a customer’s life.

Has the sales skill to pinpoint, quantify and communicate clearly the value their proposed solution will bring to the customers business.

As stated in the outset of this article, a sales skills definition for the sales roles and salespeople will be personal and unique to every business. Just as sales has evolved from door to door in the analogue era to the digital salesperson of today, so too will the sales skills as our environments change with the times.

Sales Training Videos

These sales training videos can be used in classroom or as part on some online sales training course. The video content includes topics on “When to post on Social Media” “Social Selling on LinkedIn” “Rules for Sales Success” “Sales Process Steps” and “Key Sales Skills”. 

Sales training is mainly focused on helping salespeople to acquire the knowledge on the key aspects of the different sales techniques within the sales process, such as how to do modern lead generation, the role of sales prospecting, business development in the digital era, the sales 3.0 process, buyer profiling, understanding the buying committee alongside sales presentation skills etc. Sales training is always customized to the sales strategy and sales model formulated by the company.  

Sales Training Ideas

Here are some suggestions on other topics for a sales training course.

  1. How to educate a prospect with new perspectives: Coaching a salesperson to open up a prospect’s mind to new, unconsidered and different solutions that solves their challenges.
  2. Collaboration skills: To earn the trust of the modern buyer, salespeople need to take a more collaborative approach to selling. This is about making buying easier, to inform and educate while eliminating the buyer V the seller in the minds of the buyer.
  3. Communicating Value and ROI: The skill to tell stories that clearly communicate the return a customer can expect, and the end result they will achieve.
  4. Active Listening Skills: To put the customer first, to practice actively listen skills so salespeople really learn about the customers business and challenges. Active listening goes hand in hand with great discovery sales questions.
  5. How to identify the prospect’s real needs: If discovery sales questions don’t uncover a buyer’s needs, then a salesperson will have a difficult time positioning the proposed product or service as the solution.
  6. Help prospects buy and overcome obstacles: Understanding the internal workings of the prospects business, creating honest dialog on the process and how to deal with them is important if time wasting is to be avoided.
  7. Create a convincing solution: If you can’t impress a buyer with your proposed solution that communicates how you will help them achieve desired results, you’ll struggle to close.
  8. How to get agreement on the buying process: Training the salesperson to get agreement from the customer on all the steps involved from both sides in the buying process.
  9. Creating a personal value proposition: What does the salesperson represent (linked to sales mindset) and what are the values they hold dear. Creating a personal value proposition and then sharing it builds rapport and trust.
  10. How to differentiate based on USP and the value they will bring: In sales training, too many courses teach salespeople how to differentiate based on product features and benefits. However, prospects are far more interested in the value the product or service will provide including the value of the salesperson themselves to the buying process.

Sales Performance Improvement

Most sales performance improvement is as a result of the digital transformation in sales, which has seen sales leaders focus in on the development and enablement of their sales force.  Sales performance improvement is a process not an event, it is a continuous improvement process versus a single sales training event.

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No business who is serious about sales growth will want to miss out on the opportunity to improve sales effectiveness and efficiency through process,tools or technology. However, sales performance improvement is a change management project which can lead to fear and uncertainty, especially if seen as interfering with current sales practices.  Sales performance improvement templates such as sales training materials, sales playbooks, tools and competency guidelines all play a central role in driving improvement. For many companies they may not have any or all of this content and then much of the content may not be available for digital consumption.

The first step in creating a sales performance improvement plan may be to choose between content that is ready but doesn’t meet the current needs, then continue to use the existing content in the old way, or invest in transforming the content and templates for digital access. In today’s digital era, we know that salespeople’s learning habits and preferences are changing. Research shows they want shorter, more engaging learning content, for example sales training video that can be consumed online as needed or accessed in their quiet time.

Begin By Documenting Areas for Improvement
Once the business has created a baseline expectation across the sales process for every sales team member, the sales manager or supervisor needs to learn how to properly document what areas require improvement for both the steps in the sales process and for each salesperson. This would then we discussed with each individual as part of a training and review plan. The important thing to remember when creating a paper trail for each sales performance improvement plan is to ensure that the information gathered is entirely objective, fact based, and specific. Needless to remark, the manager or supervisor should avoid generalities and provide detailed examples as much as possible. Once the sales performance improvement areas have been communicated, a number of templates will need to be created. This include what was expected in the sales performance plan and what was actually delivered. Other templates (as part of a sales playbook) could include consequences of veering outside the agreed process’s, action plans and reviews.

Sales Performance Makes Salespeople Goals Personal

Regardless of the sales improvement or sales enablement plan, every salespersons goals should be truly personalized. Within the general plan, take account for goals that focus on areas of personal improvement, individual to each sales team member. To future proof the business, within the sales training section of the sales performance improvement plan, give each salesperson the opportunity to enhance areas where they are already competent and improve areas where there is a skills deficit.

To reduce risk, start by introducing a smaller sales performance improvement plan with lower goals, goals that could improve a salespersons sales habit loop such as doing 10 minutes prep work ( the prep work output should be documented) prior to making a call, or using quiet time to engage in social selling to connect with existing customers or prospects (again, goals need to be set). However, just rolling out some new sales improvement plan with goals is not enough, there also needs to be consequences such as reviews and evaluations.

Let me conclude with one of my favorite sayings, “Fortune favors the brave”, and in a rapidly changing sales environment if there ever was a time to be brave, it’s now. Take time to think differently about your sales model, your sales strategy, your customers buying journey, the role you expect salespeople to execute against and how you plan to develop your sales talent so everyone can commit to doing things better. Never let the pursuit of profit get in the way of progress. Every sales performance improvement plan will face obstacles and encounter issues, so focus on how you envision your sales engine performance in 1,2 or 3 years time. Finally, encourage your sales training and development teams to put some well thought out initiatives into play as they can often be risk-averse. Then back them up, and let them know that it’s not just OK but vital to adopt new ways of getting salespeople to learn and develop, so sales performance improvement will be a constant not just an event.

 

Free Sales Training Video

Some free sales training video content.

A Guide to Sales Prospecting

Sales prospecting whether using cold calling, social selling, emails or referrals is a vital sales tactic especially for new or small businesses.  Prospecting and sales are not the same thing, prospecting is solely focused on searching and engaging with potential customers in order to nurture a relationship. The sales event happens once the prospect has passed some qualification criteria.  The act of picking up the phone or sending a cold email can seem daunting to a salesperson, especially if they work for a company whose product or brand name might not be instantly recognizable.

50% of sales time is wasted on unproductive prospecting. [Source: The B2B Lead]

So, here is a guide for sales prospecting success:

effective-sales-prospecting

Use Social Selling and Digital Selling to counteract lack of name recognition.

Using social selling and digital selling tactics can overcome many of the bigger obstacles for new or smaller companies. As Confucius stated “Worry not that no one knows you; seek to be worth knowing.” So, start by really understanding your value proposition and be clear about the buyer pain points and business challenges your company solves.
Givers Gain. The ability to demonstrate (visually using video or content on social media) that you understand your prospects challenges and that you can be a useful source of information to help them improve their business will result in increased relevant connections.

Share first, sell later. Sharing insights and quality information without a big sales pitch is what will get attention from buyers. Use video, case studies, whitepapers, references etc to gentle highlight the benefits of considering your business. Give examples of what makes you different, whether it is a unique product, free trials, lower cost of ownership, proof of concepts or improved performance. Seeding the benefits of doing business with you that can be viewed online will only reinforce your other sales prospecting efforts.

The first step is to create a list of unique benefits and values that will displace any perceived lack of recognition or recall. Building a social selling and digital selling strategy aimed at specific audiences will position the business as one worth considering when it comes to looking for new providers.

Know who you sell to and who will buy from you

Knowing who you want to sell to and who will buy from you are not the same. If you want everyone as a customer, you will sell to no-one. Create 1,2 or 3 Ideal Customer Profiles. In fact, focusing in on who you want to engage is probably THE most important aspect of sales prospecting. To maximize your success, ensure that you prioritize the prospects and profiles in order to improve the chances of providing value to them and their challenges.

Effective Sales Techniques Tips Video from The Digital Sales Institute

During the research stage, the goals to work towards include:

  • To determine if the prospect is worth investing time in
  • List, score, and begin to prioritize prospects
  • Identify touch points (via social or otherwise) to develop a connection through content, message personalization, nurturing and influence development

Seek to Be Useful, Valuable and Relevant

Regardless of whether you try to engage via cold calling, email or social selling, you should seek to be a useful, valuable and relevant contact. Learn how to social listen so you can research their company and understand their business. What trigger events can you uncover that would warrant engaging with you. Have they just launched a new product? Hired a new CEO, moving to a bigger office, Acquired a new company? Trigger selling is where you leverage specific information to make a prospecting touch point relevant, more informed, and less cold.

Become skilled at Social Selling and Digital Selling

The fact is that while still they still deliver results, cold calling and unsolicited emails are not as powerful as they once were. They still have a place in sales prospecting if used in conjunction with social selling. This activity involves the use of LinkedIn, Twitter and increasingly Facebook as part of the sales process to raise buyer awareness towards a business and then gradually cultivating new connections. Learn to use social media to build relationships before a prospect even starts a buyer’s journey, to close the conversion gap and eventually move online social conversations into offline sales conversations. Social selling is an additive process to connect with all stakeholders, decision-makers and influencers as the buying process moves from status quo, to awareness and onto consideration.

Using your Ideal Customer Profiles, locate and list your prospects on LinkedIn, then begin by sharing quality content, be seen to add value to conversations prior to sending out a connection request. Using a highly personalized message, referencing something that will twig their interest will greatly improve their likelihood to accept your request to connect to them. Now, this can turn your first ‘cold’ call touch point into a warm call and increase the percentage of appointments or demos.

Multi-Channel Sales Prospecting Touch Points

Not one single sales prospecting touch point (Social Selling, Emailing or Cold Calling) should be your entire tactic. C level executives receive over 100 emails a day and try to avoid numerous cold pitches so the likelihood of success by simply focusing on one tactic will probably deliver slim pickings.

Successful sales prospecting is about communication and getting commitments. There will always be person to person personalised communication, so learn the multi-channel techniques to overcome any lack of name recognition on calls and mails. The buying committee is now on average made up of 5 to 6 people, so think multi prospecting touch points to multiple people as part of your sales process if you want to build recognition for the business.

As buyers self-educate, getting their time and attention isn’t easy, but perfecting the channels and timing of when to engage them will dramatically close the conversion gap and increase the number sales conversations you secure.

Learn the Sales Habit Loop, Set a Daily Schedule for Yourself

It takes 66 days on average to learn a new habit, so as basic as it sounds, plan your day, book time slots for different prospecting tactics in your calendar, daily. Then persist with it and prospect. Make it part of your daily routine and give yourself a reward not just for the success but also for the effort.  Selling is a repetitive job, it can be easy to dedicate ourselves to the “easier” sales tasks. Even when your sales pipeline seems full, remember over 80% of prospects make it all the way through the sales process and never make a decision. So, you must have a sales habit loop that consistently refreshes the number of sales prospects you are planning to or are currently engaging.
sales-prospecting-success

Never stop Learning

Take time to reassess your sales prospecting process to see what activities generated some return and which ones did not deliver.

After each prospecting campaign, take time to assess how well we:

  • Found a pain point or trigger
  • Were able to engage in meaningful conversations
  • Uncovered challenges
  • Understood the buying committee and decision process
  • Gave buyers reasons to move out of their status quo
  • Closed the conversion gap

Persistence. Learn, have a routine, Try, then try again, reflect, refresh, adjust and go again. And again, and again. Taking time to self-reflect will serve to further improve sales prospecting techniques for future campaigns. Here are some more sales training articles and videos. 

Powerful Sales Techniques

Insight into some powerful sales techniques to help prepare when it comes to engaging a customer or prospect. Whether you are a seasoned sales professional or new into sales, you need to have a set of sales techniques you can draw upon to hit those sales targets. The list of techniques to follow should help increase the approach and interactions to improve sales performance.

Sales Techniques begins with Planning and Preparation.

Sales is a process, not an event, meaning that planning and preparation are sales techniques. This technique is about learning to gather information and insights about a contact plus their company. Being competent to have an in-depth discussion about a customer’s industry, markets, news and trends is often one of the sales techniques salespeople struggles with. Coming armed with insights will not only help build credibility with the customer but also show that you have a genuine interest in their business.  Start by using social media to gather some insights, use Google news or companies blog for announcements, research their industry for trends and forecasts. The more information, the better as it can help build a picture of the customers challenges etc. Now plan out the steps, questions and discussions for the call, meeting or presentation. Using the insights, you have gathered, create a personalized value proposition for this customer and what is it in for them to listen to you.  Don’t forget to also plan out the opening statement and 3 or 4 discovery questions so you can get their awareness and attention based on your knowledge.

sales-techniques

Challenge the Status Quo.

Learn to challenge the customers status quo because in sales the biggest competitor in securing a deal is not the competition but the buyers status quo position. Status quo comfort or the natural inclination for people to avoid change is one of the biggest obstacles in sales. On a scale of 1 to 10 for sales techniques difficulty, this one is an 8 or 9.  The sales skill here is to understand the customers status quo then uncover everything that makes up their status quo to determine how, if, why and when any change would be required or more importantly accepted internally. To master the sales technique of challenging the status quo, we need to change our mindset to “Servant Sellers”. Servant sellers are willing to work with the buyer as a change agent. This involves undertaking all the grunt work, the running around, the gathering of information from multiple parties and other members of the buying committee who will also not have shifted their status quo position.

The sales techniques include magnifying the pain points, making the challenges, obstacles or opportunities as real as possible plus positioning the true cost of doing nothing as unbearable.  The result we all look for is that our proposed solution gets moved up on the customer’s priority to-do list.

A few questions to note are:

“How would you describe your current situation? (in relation to your product)”

“What is your process for [name it] right now?”

“Which improvements would you seek if you had a choice?”

“Is there anything about your current solution to [name it] that you wish was easier?”
“Could you help me understand this better?”

“What is the impact of leaving things as they currently are?”

“What would you consider to be the obstacles in finding a solution?”

“What is the knock-on effect and cost to the business if your current solution can’t [ scale, adapt, cope, change, etc]?”

“What insights or event would trigger you to explore alternative options now?”

 

Be a MOP – Master of Performance.

All the worlds a stage, and salespeople are the players who make buying easier. You see, every single interaction with a customer is an opportunity to perform, to build credibility, to influence, to be seen as useful, and to gain their trust. Everything from our tone of voice, from the way we dress, to what is said and just as important – how it is said, is all part of the sales performance. The quality and relevancy of the information we impart is what determines how we progress. People buy from experts and advisors, so confidence is vital. Similar to an actor, learn to tell stories, talk at a measured pace to allow the words flow naturally. Use facts or data with a raised pitch within the story to display confidence. Have the business acumen to know the customer is asking themselves “Why should I listen” and “How are you different from my current supplier”. So be prepared to answer this as part of your sales performance.

Sales 3.0 is about Collaboration.

Use collaboration to uncover sales opportunities, remember the switch rate ratio is 54% listening to 46% talking. Practice and measure the switch rate that you and the customer take turns listening and then talking. This sales technique allows for the flow of information to be two-way. Some sales training will help you master the sales skill of “active listening”, this opens the door to insights, allowing us to work together to help find the solution that best meets the customer’s needs. To help the switch rate runs smoothly, have a list of discovery type questions to ascertain if any real sales opportunity does in fact exist.

Examples include:

“Where are you experiencing the biggest challenges?

“What has been your own experience in trying to narrow down solutions in the past?”

“What type of events or trends would make you review your current solutions?”

“In which area [personalized to product] are you seeing most challenges?”

“What is your process for going about solving these issues?” 

“What would be the criteria for you to consider solutions or options to [name it]?”

“In an ideal world, when do plan to have found some options for consideration?”

“What would the normal decision-making process for my type of solution be?”

Real sales collaboration shouldn’t be rushed, receiving insightful and honest answers will give a good indication of whether there is a sales opportunity or not. If the switch rate is highly interactive, the questions and answers should reveal the customers main pain points. This allows for a progression in the sales process, however if no opportunity exists or can’t be crystalized then it is time to move on.

It’s about Buying Ease not Buying Please.

The sales mindset here is Let me work for you and show you what you need to complete this purchase.” The customer does need more, they already live in a world of more- more information, more data, more options, and more people involved in a buying decision.

We need to focus on buying ease, to bring clarity in the sales process. To collaborate and help customers simplify the buying process, to make it easier to buy. Research shows customers who experience a high level of “buying ease,” opt to do with that supplier, in fact they are 62% more likely to win the deal. Buying ease includes making the customer feel comfortable about moving out of their status quo, that new possibilities are only positive, that the cost of change is manageable, to show them how to sell the solution internally and then make buying easier by being a servant seller.

Sales techniques are a never ending and constantly changing story. They reflect the environment we sell into and our customers evolving preferences for how they buy.

Are Women Better Entrepreneurs

Gender issues between men and women have long been standing. For countless decades, women have struggled to rise to fulfill their roles as leaders and game changers. Even when, over time, names of women who have made huge changes in the communities they belong to have surfaced, gender-bias remains alive, breathing, and plaguing.

women-in-business

Despite the different work-related gender issues women, from anywhere around the world, face each day of their lives, the success of women leaders in the corporate world have made responding differences. In a world dominated largely by men, the tide is apparently shifting before everybody’s eyes. More and more people have come into realization how the female qualities impact and bring forth positive changes in businesses. While in the past it was nearly impossible for women to gain acceptance in business, now businesses need women beyond their nurturing skills. More are appreciating the different yet effective approach of the women in business on problem analysis and solving, creativeness and innovation, and their general drive to success.

The business landscape is still dominated by the male population, and there still are those started by women that have failed and have never been attempted to revive. However, survey suggests that in many large cities like Melbourne, women-owned businesses out survive those men-owned, from different industries. The staggering rates of success of women in the business world, with their unparalleled and unconventional approaches would make them equal to if not better entrepreneurs than men. Now how is that possible? Let’s check out why.

Open and honest marketing

Gone are the old marketing ways where consumers are blindly being led to believe whatever companies want them to believe. Today, with the changes in mass media, social media and the availability of information at the hands of consumers, dumb marketing almost never works anymore.
Consumers are much wiser and appreciate authenticity in marketing more than ever. This is where women are good at — open and honest marketing. When consumers see honesty from your business, trusting becomes so much easier on the part of the consumers. Once trust is established, getting ahead in business is not a difficult task.

Women connect better

The choice and voice of consumers these days have taken their leverage over companies on a higher level. An unresolved or poorly resolved consumer issue can bring a whole company down in a short matter of time. The women’s connection skills come in handy in before such situations even arise. This is because of the natural instinct of women to listen first before acting on the problem; while men on the other hand, immediately act first to save what is left and then only listen after.

Women are better negotiators

The less aggressive approach of women on so many ways makes them better negotiator. In negotiations they engage in, they do not bend things just to gain foothold over the situation. Women go for decisions where both or all parties gain advantages and win.

Women share the credit

Any success that women gain in the business, they do not take all the credit to themselves. They boost the confidence in their employees by making them feel that their efforts and contributions are valued. This approach makes employees strive to do better and add in an extra dose of dedication in their work because they understand the implications of their actions.

Women value relationships and well-being more than the business

This point does not instigate that men do otherwise. It is just that women have the tendency to act based on these values before the business itself. They place importance of their families and relationships outside their work, creating a sense of balance and putting off grab effects of burn-out. Also, in terms of businesses, they are able to create a personal touch in dealing with both their employees and teams, and customer. Women put in a heart in their business, which gives them an advantage in their relationships with their clients.

Overall, what really makes women better entrepreneurs is their natural ability to adapt to the changes in the business scene. Today, consumers seek connection to businesses who provide them services and products. Trust is built on these things, when they are assured that the businesses are on their side. Women’s natural abilities to connect, and nurture are very handy tools in giving businesses a human touch that consumers crave for.

This is a guest article on The Bitter Business.

Guest Author Bio:

Displaying photo-gemma-reeves.png

Gemma Reeves is a seasoned writer who enjoys creating helpful articles and interesting stories. She has worked with several clients across different industries such as advertising, online marketing, technology, healthcare, family matters, and more. She is also an aspiring entrepreneur who is engaged in assisting other aspiring entrepreneurs in finding the best office space for their business.

Check out her company here: FindMyWorkspace

Sales Training Courses

Sales training courses are designed to improve the sales skills of the sales team, from social selling to sales prospecting, cold calling, business development and sales presentation skills to name but a few.

Sales training courses and sales coaching are essential for a salespersons success. The stark reality is that ineffective sales training seriously effects a businesses growth and profitability not to mention employee churn.  Research shows that many CEO’s and people in sales leadership positions believe they obtain little or no return on the sales training they provide. Could this be that in many sales training courses there is a lack of mindset training.

sales-training-courses

To build a successful team of salespeople, we should include sales mindset training alongside the list of sales skills training. Because in business, our most valuable asset many not be our product or service, our most valuable could be the mindset of the salespeople.

Sales mindset training extends out to helping individual salespeople to be bolder, to take more calculated chances and to have a more entrepreneurial attitude. On sales training courses, omitting to include “the sales mindset”, will result in the rubber band effect leading to little or no ROI. We know that as we teach the skills and behaviours required to succeed in sales, we stretch the mind of the salespeople. However, if the sales training doesn’t lead to a mindset or values shift, the salesperson just reverts back to type, just the same as a rubber band when you stretch it and release. Sales training courses need to embrace mindset training or accept a limited improvement in sales performance.

So maybe the first lesson on a sales training course is to help salespeople to let go of any biases holding them back. To understand how they contribute to the business world, the value they deliver and why their efforts are important and worthwhile.

Sales Training Courses

So, let’s move onto some other topics to be included on sales training courses.

  1. How to educate a prospect with new perspectives: Coaching a salesperson to open up a prospect’s mind to new, unconsidered and different solutions that solves their challenges.
  2. Collaboration skills: To earn the trust of the modern buyer, salespeople need to take a more collaborative approach to selling. This is about making buying easier, to inform and educate while eliminating the buyer V the seller in the minds of the buyer.
  3. Communicating Value and ROI: The skill to tell stories that clearly communicate the return a customer can expect, and the end result they will achieve.
  4. Active Listening Skills: To put the customer first, to practice actively listen skills so salespeople really learn about the customers business and challenges. Active listening goes hand in hand with great discovery sales questions.
  5. How to identify the prospect’s real needs: If discovery sales questions don’t uncover a buyer’s needs, then a salesperson will have a difficult time positioning the proposed product or service as the solution.
  6. Help prospects buy and overcome obstacles: Understanding the internal workings of the prospects business, creating honest dialog on the process and how to deal with them is important if time wasting is to be avoided.
  7. Create a convincing solution: If you can’t impress a buyer with your proposed solution that communicates how you will help them achieve desired results, you’ll struggle to close.
  8. How to get agreement on the buying process: Training the salesperson to get agreement from the customer on all the steps involved from both sides in the buying process.
  9. Creating a personal value proposition: What does the salesperson represent (linked to sales mindset) and what are the values they hold dear. Creating a personal value proposition and then sharing it builds rapport and trust.
  10. How to differentiate based on USP and the value they will bring: In sales training, too many courses teach salespeople how to differentiate based on product features and benefits. However, prospects are far more interested in the value the product or service will provide including the value of the salesperson themselves to the buying process.

There are many other elements to be shared in the delivery of sales training courses, the sales skills needed to achieve success in a sales career. Developing these skills such as social selling, effective sales techniques and sales prospecting etc take time and will be fine-tuned over time, but the investment in learning and improving oneself is worth it.

Create a Social Media Strategy

Use these steps to create a social media strategy. As social media and the social channels have grown in influencing buying decision, so too have the reasons to create a social an effective social media strategy. Using content, articles, video or online advertising, companies can potentially reach millions of buyers or potential consumers. It’s exciting to think that for any business it is now possible to reach people in different countries and markets. But this doesn’t mean that it is easy to connect with these people, reaching and connecting are two very different social media strategies. It is an important difference that many social media marketing campaigns fail to understand.

Social media marketing strategy

A social media strategy is more than marketing or likes, it should include digital selling, social selling, social reach, buyer or customer engagement, customer service and reputation.

While the main social platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram) have a combined audience base of nearly 3.0 billion users, only a small fraction of them will be open to receiving your messages, with less again willing to connect with your business. The reality is that most people will know nothing about your business or your brand. This is the reason why it’s has become vital to create a social media strategy that you can execute against a clear purpose and goals.

The success of any social media strategy is rooted in the plan and messaging.  But success is never instant, so it’s essential to stick to the plan to allow it to take hold. To help create a social media strategy we have listed some steps below.

Create your social media marketing plan before you start any activity

Don’t get caught in the trap of “random acts of social marketing”, it is surprising the number of companies who just jump into social media with no other plan other to see what works.  They post a few comments, a few special offers or maybe a few articles. Then they get disappointed with the results. Just no point doing that, social media marketing is just like gardening, you reap what you sow but you must work hard to grow your audience and nurture relationships with them.

So, he first step is to create a SMART goals list for your social media activity.

Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant Time-bound

Using this methodology will make it easy to track progress and allow you to easily see what needs to be refined along the way. An example using LinkedIn, a SMART goal could be to “increase our connections with IT buyers in Ireland by 100 during Q1. In this one sentence, you have communicated a specific goal, one that is measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.  SMART goals work best when you can convey the objective in a short sentence or two.

Choosing which social media platforms to focus on

Depending on whether you are B2B or B2C you need to select which social media platforms you will focus on. Selecting which platforms is often overlooked when creating a social media strategy. Take the time to review your Ideal Customer Profile or Buyer Persona and then research where you are most likely to get engagement. The general thinking in random acts of social is if there are over 300 million profiles on LinkedIn, then surely the likelihood of some form of engagement happening is on.  While that is not entirely incorrect, it’s not the right approach to consistent social reach for your business.

Let your SMART goals be the guiding factor in determining what is it you want to achieve. You need to understand who you want to target, with what, when, and what type of engagement you want to have with them. Once these questions have been answered, then you decide which platforms will help you achieve your goals.

Have a social purpose and a clearly defined identity

Buyers today interact with companies whom they feel an affinity and a connection with.  One of the most effective ways to create this connection is for your business to have a social purpose.  This social purpose should form the basis of your marketing content, articles and social media activity. Can you help educate, inform, help, donate, entertain etc. as part social purpose. Consumers are becoming blind to naked sales and marketing pitches

Implement the 3×33 rule of Social Media

This point related back to your social purpose. While the goal of any business is to acquire and maintain profitably customers, when it comes to social media, remember that givers gain. To drive engagement, followers and connections, you must be seen as a useful or even valuable source of information. This means having a mix of content which is not self-generated or focused your brand.

  • 33% of your social media content is stories and case studies to engage your target audience.
  • 33% of your content is sharing ideas, insights, article and stories from thought leaders or experts in your industry.
  • 33% of your social content should be about social purpose and personal insights to expand your social reach.

The above 3×33 rule will help you accomplish a couple things. Firstly, by sharing content other than your own, you’re showing that the interest of your audience comes above the interest you have in selling something and you are more than just blasting your followers with your own content.  Just like in real life, we avoid people who can only talk about themselves and what they do. Well the same is true for social media, this is why givers gain most.

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If you fail to be seen as useful and valuable, then your social reach will be limited as people will not be attracted to your profile plus they are unlikely to engage or make a connect with you. To become a trusted adviser, your social accounts and social selling activity need to post educational and informative materials while subtly blending in details about company.

While I hope you find these social media marketing strategy guidelines someway helpful, they won’t guarantee your success in social. However, by creating SMART goals, doing the research into your customer profiles and social platforms to use, having a social purpose, and following the 3 x 33 rule of social media content, you’ll expand your social reach to engage with your target audience.

Sales Training Ideas

Looking for some sales training ideas to boost salesperson engagement? Here are some sales training ideas to give you some food for thought on what information to impart on a sales training course.

Sales training is mainly separated into two categories, the first is learning about the core aspects of different sales techniques such as – lead generation, sales prospecting, business development, the sales process, sales presentation skills etc. This sales training would be customized for the sales techniques that work best in a specific industry or profile of buyer. The second category is very company focused training such as – training on the company’s products or services, the sales process deployed, the internal sales playbook, and the sales assets, tools and resources the sales team will use.

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Sales Training Course

While successful salespeople have similar characteristics, the truth is no one is born with all the sales skills and knowledge to sell at a high level, these are acquired skills. This is why sales training is a crucial part of helping new and existing salespeople deliver on the potential they displayed during the interview process. Sales training should help the new and existing team of salespeople to develop and practice the skills they will need to succeed. Sales training should also include elements that help increase the confidence levels of the salespeople not just in the sales techniques but in the company’s unique value proposition.

 

Sales Training Ideas for Sales Success

Sales Training Tip 1. Teach salespeople to know what they want.

Research shows that the No.1 question salespeople have is “What do you want me to do”, which is very relevant. So maybe the first sales training session could be to answer this question and then proceed to asking the sales people what do they want to achieve in their career. What goals are they setting in place, what are their expectations, what time will they set aside to invest in their own self development, what do they believe are the traits of a successful salesperson. People perform best when they already know what is wanted out of them plus it’s much easier for them to do what the business is asking of them if during the sales training you tell them exactly what that is.

Sales Training Tip 2. Teach the salespeople the companies value proposition plus get them to craft their own personal value proposition.

It is amazing how many salespeople do not understand or can communicate their companies value proposition. Also, if the new salespeople are involved in prospecting or business development, they will need to have crafted their own personal value proposition. Any salesperson whether new or experienced needs to be able to clearly explain why a customer should choose them over a competitor. It may sound simplistic but if your salespeople can’t convey a value proposition, they will struggle with buyer engagement. In modern selling, every salesperson must be able to create value with a customer by (a) what they sell AND (b) the way they sell.

Sales Training Tip 3. All salespeople should understand the sales process.

The new salespeople should be taught that the sales process is a set of predictable, repeatable steps that they take with a customer/prospect to progress them through the sales funnel to becoming a paying customer.

This is an example of a straight forward sales process used by many companies.

Step 1. Sales Prospecting: Salesperson (using Ideal Customer Profiles), researches and identifies list of potential customers with 2 or 3 contacts per company.

Step 2. Sales Touch Points: The salesperson plans out a series of sales touch points (email, social selling, phone call) to engage the prospect.

Step 3. Closing the Conversion Gap: Now the salesperson will use sales tools and sales assets along with seeking to understand the prospects needs and challenges in order to close the conversion gap and get the prospect to enter a buying process.

Step 4. Presenting and Selling: This is the top of the iceberg in selling terms, the salesperson will outline to the customer (and buying committee) how the product/service can solve their needs plus why buying from them will make their lives easier.

Step 5. Customer Verification: Every good sales process should have a series of customer verification points along the way, this high-level customer verification is constructed to qualify the prospect. Customer verification at this point in the sales process can include free trials, proof of concept, budget confirmation, timescales, free consultancy etc.

Step 6. Closing the Sale: This is negotiating and contract phase around final pricing, roll-out, implementation or delivery.

 

Sales Training Tip 4. Teach salespeople the sales habit loop.

This is about teaching salespeople in sales effectiveness. Helping them to cue up sales activity, to have sales routines, time management, how to reward themselves for tasks completed. The output is for salespeople to take ownership for their roles and success.

Sales Training Tip 5. Show them how to use a multi-channel approach.

Today, for a salesperson to increase their sales funnel and drive up the close rates, they need to be skilled in using a multi-channel approach in engaging customers. They need to understand the impact of social media and content on the buyer’s journey, learn social selling, how to use digital assets, how to do social listening, how to craft well written emails and how to use content (whitepapers, research) in the sales process.

Sales Training Tip 6. Make the sales training digestible.

The days of a 5-day sales training courses are gone, research shows that training works best in consolidated chunks of information. Keep each sales training module short. Use concentrated (ten to twenty minutes) learning sessions that contain focused material that immediately hits the point with the salesperson on that particular topic. Give them access to online sales training and point them to freely available learning material for their own commitment to improving their skills.

Sales Training Tip 7. Show them where to find and access sales assets.

From using LinkedIn, researching profiles and in accessing sales assets, to boost a new salespersons productivity you need to make information easy to access, searchable and fast.  Where to access sales tools and sales assets such as content should be part of their daily sales habit loop. If using CRM, them make such all information integrated.

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Sales Training Tip 8. Introduce Gamification.

Create sales games using real customer case studies, then introduce interactive activities. Set challenges for the salespeople across all steps in the sales process. Then have them provide answers and plans. Gamification in sales training is fun and can rapidly improve retention.

Sales Training Tip 9. Start with easy steps.

Depending on your business model or product, start the new salespeople on the easier (nothing easy in sales!!) steps in the sales process. That could be identify 100 prospects for a new product launch, to phone back lost business for research purposes or helping out on the products that are easier to sell. Nothing builds confidence more than successfully completing a sales task with the managers approval.Sales Training

Tip 10. Use E-Learning to Educate.

We live in the digital age where technology has replaced the need for traveling and lost sales time. The use of online sales training, video and E-learning allows salespeople to continually refresh their sales skills outside of working hours or while on the go. Using online training videos and modules, it drives ownership back to the salesperson for knowledge acquisition.

Sales Training Tip 11. Don’t overload them with information.

In line with sales tip 8, be careful not to overload a new hire with every aspect of the sales (and even if you do teach this information right away, it likely won’t be retained).

Break down each step in the sales process and learning the next step in the sales process should be a reward for mastering the previous one.

So, there you have some sales training ideas to use on a sales training course. The buyer supplier relationship along with how buyers engage with vendors is changing rapidly. So, sales training will have to become more dynamic and digitally driven, just like our buyers.

Note: This article was has been republished courtesy of The Digital Sales Institute from their article – Sales Training Tips and Ideas

Sales Strategy – Inbound Sales – Digital Sales Transformation – Social Selling – Sales Training

Sales training and digital sales transformation including social selling strategy training in Ireland.