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.

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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.

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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.

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:

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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.
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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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

Selling Skills That Every Salesperson Needs

There is a whole range of selling skills that every salesperson needs to be successful in the modern sales 3.0 era. Thanks to the digital influenced world we live in, how salespeople sell has changed. The role of a salesperson is constantly evolving and a more consultative selling skill set is now required in most sales roles.

However, regardless of any sales methodology, one fact remains true: Successful salespeople will always be looking at ways to enhance their selling skills to achieve higher levels of performance. Whether it is getting better at social networking (social selling), developing their personal brand, improving how to do sales prospecting or account management, the reality is salespeople need support from sales management plus access to continuous sales coaching.

Both at the company and individual salesperson level, everyone has to invest more time learning and understanding the art and science of selling in today’s fast paced buying environment.

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Selling Skills Every Good Salesperson Needs

  • To have empathy and take the time to really understand a prospect’s needs
  • Ability to engage with a prospect at their level and on their terms
  • Is seen to add value to the prospect or customer at every stage of the process
  • An active listener along with skilled at asking questions to uncover challenges or objections
  • Can create a vision for the value that their product will bring for the buyer’s business

Let’s deep a little deeper as these selling skills.

Confidence and a can-do attitude.

Average salespeople do what is required, great salespeople do whatever it takes. A career in sales can be a bumpy road, salespeople suffer all manner of rejections by prospective customers along the way, and they need to be resilient, confident plus maintain a positive can-do attitude from the get go.

A winning mindset in sales “is not a question of do you know it, but rather of one ‘Do you want to do it?”. Because “If you want to do it, you will acquire the necessary knowledge and skills.”  In a sales career, a salespersons most valuable asset is not their value proposition, nor their sales scripts, nor their contact lists. Their most valuable asset is their mindset.

A confidence mindset allows salespeople to transfer belief in themselves and what they are selling to the customer.

An active listener and skilled at understanding the customers’ needs

Research has shown that successful selling is 54% listening and 46% talking. Whether prospecting or business development, active listening to really understand a customer’s needs (they may not even be aware of a need you have flagged as a result of listening to them) is a critical sales skill. Active listening isn’t passive as it involves asking clarifying questions. Salespeople need to understand it is more than just hearing what is being said. It means being constantly attentive to what the customer is saying and truly understand the sentiment or position of the other person.

We know that sales conversations are the key to successful selling in the complex, consultative, or solution type sale. So, effective sales conversations are the result of the salesperson taking responsibility for both their speaking and their audience’s listening.

Rapport building and selling their personality

Another critical sales skill to the ability to establish rapport and relatedness that opens trust with the buyer. So, selling their personality (and personal brand) is incredibly valuable. Being genuinely interested, authentic and engaging is the major plank in gaining buyers trust. Let’s take one step back, because great rapport building can be linked to the research a salesperson does prior to engaging a customer. Sharing insights and asking unique questions related directly to the customers business lets them know that the salesperson is not there just to run through the typical sales conversation.

Even in this digital world, people buy people. It’s about convincing the customer to listen in the first instance and then work towards gaining their trust that the salesperson is the best person to sell the product to them. A salesperson needs to sell their talents (product or market knowledge, problem solver etc) but, even more importantly, they have to sell their personality.

Business acumen and a drive for continuous self-improvement

Top salespeople possess a genuine interest in how business works. They have business acumen, an entrepreneurial drive and ability to self-evaluate their own performance. They can use this to engage customers and then create opportunities where they may not seem to exist. Successful salespeople also display a characteristic of business curiosity. They research and plan out the right questions to ask plus they seek out the right people to ask those questions to, along with finding the answers.

The forward thing sales professional will always see a sale through from execution to delivery as they value customers opinions and referral potential.

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Sales habit loop for sales consistency.

Salespeople have to acquire the skill via sales training that sales negotiation is a process not an event. This means having a well-planned out sales habit loop that consistently addresses all parts of the sales process. They pay attention to the 3Ps of selling – Prepare, Probe, and Propose.

So, there you have some of the selling skills that every salesperson needs. These critical sales skills that can make a difference in how salespeople sell – listening, rapport building, empathy, storytelling, and thinking on their feet, are things that most people in sales can probably do, yet ask ourselves – How much opportunity do they get to practice them? Sales leaders need to create a time and place to allow salespeople practice the more human side of selling to be successful in the sales 3.0 world.

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

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