In the realm of sales, where competition is fierce, every company looks for sales superheroes. These exceptional individuals possess a finely tuned set of skills and, when working together, form a powerful team that drives business revenue to new heights.
But what are these critical sales skills, and how can they be refined? Read on to find out!
- What are the Sales Skills You Should Master?
- How to Improve Your Sales Skills: 5 Proven Strategies
- Sales Skills FAQ
Sales success is a complex blend of soft skills, hard skills, and maybe even a touch of charm. But while charm may be pretty hard to “train,” there are a few important sales skills that everyone can develop.
Salespeople spend a significant portion of their time communicating in a variety of ways. From social selling on LinkedIn or Twitter and phone calls with clients, to sales presentations at conferences and public speaking.
Active listening skills are the capacity to hear beyond words. To listen actively requires maintaining eye contact, asking follow-up questions, showing genuine interest, and providing constructive feedback. When sales reps are truly engaged with prospects and customers, they can attract potential customers, gain valuable insights into their actual needs, challenges, and aspirations, and ultimately provide more personalized solutions.
This means addressing customer concerns, hesitations, or potential objections regarding a product or service. When faced with an objection, an effective salesperson approaches it as an opportunity rather than a roadblock. They try to understand a concern fully and respond with empathy and persuasive techniques, highlighting the product’s benefits and sharing successful case studies. Good salespeople should know the typical objections related to your product or service. It helps them alleviate doubts effectively and moves the sales process forward.
To build rapport means to go beyond simply making a sale: establish trust and develop meaningful relationships with potential customers and clients. Each sales professional should always focus on win-win outcomes and foster a collaborative environment where both parties are working toward a mutually beneficial solution.
Beyond verbal exchanges, nonverbal communication plays a significant role in sales interactions. Salespeople should develop an understanding of nonverbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions, in order to enhance their powers of persuasion and project confidence and openness.
On the other hand, being able to ‘read’ these signals can also help them gauge the customer’s level of interest, commitment, or hesitation.
If your business operates in a global market, cross-cultural communication is not just a good complement to an employee’s expertise but a very important skill that helps sell products more effectively. Your sales reps need to be able to effectively exchange information, ideas, and messages with people from different cultural backgrounds. This involves the ability to navigate different cultural contexts, respect cultural differences, and adapt their sales pitch accordingly.
The sales role can be stressful. It involves constant interaction with a wide variety of people, each with their own unique personality and mindset. Highly developed emotional intelligence helps a sales manager navigate sensitive situations and conflicts with finesse and adapt their approach to different personalities.
No matter how skilled and experienced your employees might be, their efforts to sell a product will fall short if they lack sufficient familiarity with the product or service being offered by your business. This includes an expert understanding of the product’s features, unique selling points, limitations, use cases, and how it can solve a particular customer’s issues.
Beyond the product itself, product knowledge refers to deep industry expertise, knowledge of the competitive landscape, your brand values, and buyer personas.
A great salesperson with deep product expertise can not only inspire confidence in their clients, but also become a trusted advisor. They can identify which aspects of the product are most relevant to a specific target audience and communicate its value effectively.
This term encompasses the various approaches, frameworks, sales strategies, and closing techniques that help salespeople reach their potential clients’ pain points and close many deals. Here are some of the models and techniques that form the foundation of successful selling:
This sales model is about asking the right questions. The wrong questions can create uncertainty or even derail the deal. SPIN is an acronym that stands for four key types of sales questions: Situation, Problem, Implication, and Need-Payoff. By using this technique, a sales manager empowers a potential customer to share their insights and guides them toward a purchase.
People are bombarded with information and choices when considering a purchase, which makes it challenging to capture their attention and gain their trust. The SNAP selling approach is built on the four essential rules that a successful salesperson should be aware of in order to ultimately sell a product.
The Sandler Selling System
This methodology is based on the belief that successful salespeople are effective consultants rather than pushy persuaders. It emphasizes the importance of upfront contracts, where both the salesperson and customers establish clear expectations and mutually agreed-upon next steps.
The skills we’ve listed here are certainly fundamental, but they’re far from being exhaustive. Apart from these aspects, top salespeople should also be brilliant at navigating sales tools, have a deep understanding of the entire pipeline, have strong time management skills to prioritize important tasks, balance the often hectic schedule of the sales world and ultimately succeed in their professional lives.
As you can see, the art of selling requires proficiency in many areas. Let’s look at five strategies that companies are using to improve the sales skills of their teams continuously.
Start from the onboarding process
Training salespeople should start from the moment they join a company. Onboarding is an ideal time to lay a foundation for their success, providing them with essential knowledge about the company, its products or services, target market, and sales processes.
In today’s dynamic and globally dispersed business landscape, relying on outdated paper-based materials or onetime training sessions might not be the best approach. Recognizing this, an increasing number of companies embrace learning management systems for sales training — a platform that helps create, deliver, and track online learning programs. By using it, you can make the sales onboarding:
- Centralized and accessible. All the onboarding materials are stored on a single platform. This ensures easy access for all salespeople, regardless of their location or time zone.
- Self-paced. Learners don’t depend on each other. Instead, they can develop their skills at their convenience, for example, spending more time on challenging topics and quickly grasping concepts they’re familiar with.
- Consistent. All salespeople will receive the same information and follow a unified learning path. This helps deliver consistent knowledge across the entire company.
- Easy to track. With the robust reporting available in LMSs, you can easily monitor learners’ progress and use a data-driven approach to make informed decisions.
What’s more, with the iSpring Learn LMS, for example, you can organize the onboarding process in a more logical and straightforward manner. The platform allows you to create not only standalone courses, but also entire training programs called learning tracks.
You can create courses tailored to a specific set of knowledge and particular sales skills, such as product training or sales techniques, and then combine them into a linear pathway with a strict sequence and due date for each course in that path. This helps you avoid overwhelming new employees with information and makes training easy to follow. Here’s what it looks like to your sales newbie:
As early as 13 years ago, Facebook revolutionized employee training in the company by making mentorship one of its key components. This isn’t the only example. Many well-known companies across various industries, such as Adobe, Cisco, and Deloitte, recognize the value of mentorship programs and use them to train employees and foster their professional growth.
While mentorship is often associated with guiding beginners, it can be beneficial for sales professionals at all levels. For example, you can select someone from the pool of top-notch salespeople and pair them with a mid-level specialist. A mentor, as a trusted advisor and industry expert, can guide colleagues on how to navigate complex sales situations, review sales calls if needed, or work through mistakes and share insights.
In fact, mentorship goes beyond just providing advice. It fosters a culture of collaboration, knowledge sharing, and mutual growth within the entire team. The mentor also acts as a source of inspiration and motivation, setting a high standard for success and demonstrating best practices.
Make training engaging
Boring content can be a major roadblock when it comes to effective training. No matter how valuable or essential the information is, people are naturally drawn to engaging and interactive experiences.
Employ multiple content formats catered to different learning styles. This will help you boost salespeople’s engagement in the learning process and increase their knowledge retention. The easiest way to try different formats and not spend months developing training content is to use a content authoring tool like iSpring Suite. This is powerful software that can help trainers create slide-based courses, smart knowledge assessments, interactive modules, and even record video lectures without extensive coding or design expertise.
Slide-based courses are excellent for delivering comprehensive product training or delving into key sales theories and methodologies. iSpring Suite comes with a content library of over 89,000 characters, locations, and slide templates that will allow you to cut course creation time in half. The tool also allows you to convert PPT files into real online courses and upload them to the web or your LMS with ease. Here’s what your slides might look like:
You can also insert short interactive modules into your slides to explain a sales process or sales cycle, conveniently organize FAQs on a topic, or show how your product works:
Video lectures are a great way to show your salespeople practical examples of effective sales interactions, observe successful sales pitches, or train negotiation strategies. If you produce IT products, you can also use screencast videos to demonstrate how to navigate your software.
With the built-in video studio available in Spring Suite, you can record your webcam video, combine it with a screencast, and then easily make it look professional by adding captions, titles, hints, and images.
Provide hands-on experience
Go beyond theoretical knowledge and offer practical, hands-on experience. This will help salespeople apply what they’ve learned in real-world scenarios, hone their skills, and build up their confidence.
Hold group practice sessions, practice public speaking, and create simulated sales scenarios where salespeople can practice their pitch, objection handling, and negotiation skills. Encourage them to step into the shoes of both the salesperson and the customer to gain a well-rounded perspective.
If your salespeople work remotely, or their schedules are too tight, it might be difficult to get them all together in one place. In this case, you can create virtual role-play simulations and let employees practice their communication skills or learn the basics of relationship building via a laptop or a mobile phone.
iSpring Suite has an intuitive, drag-and-drop editor that makes it easy to create scenario-based role-plays. You can choose from a variety of characters and locations to make everything more realistic and relatable. Furthermore, the characters can be customized to change their poses and facial expressions to help the learner catch nonverbal cues. This is how your role-play simulation might look:
Role-plays are highly important as they enable employees to practice and refine sales skills in a lifelike but risk-free environment.
Assess sales knowledge and skills
Knowledge checks are an essential part of any training program. They help to ensure that the training hasn’t gone unnoticed and that the new knowledge has been absorbed effectively.
Include quizzes after each topic or training module. Use different types of questions, from multiple-choice to open-ended, to keep learners engaged and assessments well rounded.
Online tests are easy to conduct and, just as importantly, easy to evaluate. With iSpring Suite, you can create 14 different question types, set time limits, the number of attempts allowed, and provide feedback for each answer. You can even personalize the question order based on how the learner handles the quiz. Here’s an example of a matching quiz that you can create in a matter of minutes:
How can I assess the current competencies of my salespeople?
This is a critical step that should precede any training. To assess your team’s sales skills and competencies, you can conduct an employee performance review or a 360-degree feedback assessment, analyze sales metrics and personal KPIs, observe their sales interactions, and seek customer feedback. These methods will enable you to provide targeted training and support where needed.
How often do I need to train my salespeople?
It depends on various factors, including their experience level, your business specifics, and the evolving needs of the industry. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, we recommend that you create ongoing training and development opportunities. Regular training will help keep your salespeople motivated, adaptable, and equipped with the latest sales skills and knowledge to empower them to succeed in their professional life.
Ready to Start?
Building a strong sales team is not a destination, but an ongoing adventure. We hope this article has provided you with insights and valuable tips on how to make it more successful.
To start creating engaging courses that your salespeople will be eager to take, download a free 14-day trial of iSpring Suite.
To find out more about iSpring Learn, sign up for a free personalized demo. Our manager will dive deeper into your business needs and help you decide if this LMS is right for you.