At most organizations, sales is responsible for generating revenue. But sales is becoming more difficult as the buyer’s journey evolves. We understand that the sales process is not a one-size-fits-all formula. After all, shaping it depends on the company you work for, the product you sell, and your target audience. However, if your sales team doesn’t have the skills they need to convert leads into customers, how do you put that plan into action?
Here’s the short answer: sales training and coaching.
What is sales training and coaching?
Sales coaching sets up every sales rep to practice, develop skills, and ultimately hit their number with confidence. In order to be effective, sales coaching needs to be continuous and customized in a way that focuses on sales skills and reinforces strong sales behavior for each seller individually.
Sales training is closely related but slightly different from coaching. It ensures that every seller in your sales force has the skills they need to contribute to the team and grow their career. Training educates your sellers on the knowledge and techniques they need to be most successful when selling your company’s products, services, or solutions.
Top 7 skills every sales development representative (SDR) needs
While some people may have an extroverted “sales personality”, effective seller development is still a can’t-miss step in the sales training process. Sales training can help entry-level sales reps develop and practice the skills they need to succeed and increase their confidence level. It can also ensure that seasoned reps keep crucial skills sharp. Here are the top-7 skills every rep needs to build relationships with your prospects and customers:
1. Critical thinking
Sales development reps typically have more information and content at their fingertips than they or their prospects will ever need. It’s easy to get lost in a maze of content, so SDRs need to be able to quickly process and analyze what’s most relevant to their deal and apply only what they need. That’s critical thinking, and it’s a vital skill for sales reps. Your SDRs don’t need to know everything, but they need critical thinking skills to address their buyer’s specific needs and keep conversations heading in the right direction.
2. Highly-personalized outreach
Oftentimes, it can be tricky for SDRs to balance quantity and quality when prospecting. In order to be successful, sales reps need to focus their time and energy on qualified leads. In order to do so, successful reps may connect with fewer prospects, but through personalized outreach, they ultimately create more valuable experiences and business opportunities.
3. Knowing who to target
The business decision-maker isn’t always the primary stakeholder in a purchasing team. In fact, Forrester has found that 63% of purchases have more than four people involved in the decision-making process. So reps need skills to understand the needs of each stakeholder and personalize their interactions accordingly. The ability to personalize outreach to individual stakeholders ensures that reps can generate buy-in across the broader purchasing team.
4. Active listening
This is a very important skill in prospecting, but it can be tricky for reps to do well. Effective sales reps must be able to qualify prospects during conversations to get a strong sense of whether they could benefit from your product or service. Merely going through a qualification checklist isn’t enough. By acting with a listen-first mindset, sales reps can develop a better understanding of why the customer is in the market for a solution and help serve as a guide throughout the buyer journey.
Today’s sales reps must be creative because they need to do more with fewer opportunities. The modern sales landscape has changed drastically in the last 15 years. Back in the day, sending out thousands of emails asking for a referral was good enough. Today, buyers expect highly personalized experiences, and great SDRs win because they’re able to connect their buyer’s needs to engaging, personalized experiences.
In sales, rejection is a part of the game. Leads may hang up on sales reps while those who stay on the line may have little to no interest in speaking. It just comes with the territory. When rejection is a given, SDRs need to short memories and be able to quickly pivot to the next opportunity. Even if one door closes, the next opportunity could be just around the corner.
The role of SDR is always evolving and you don’t need to look far to find proof. The adoption of digital-first selling has fundamentally changed the ways sales reps engage buyers. Even as sales reps develop the skills it takes to master digital selling, the next wave of selling always awaits. This is why curiosity is a great asset. It’s important to always be curious about your industry, the services you offer, and finding new ways to solve problems. Sales reps who remain curious often find themselves ahead of the curve.
Don’t forget the power of practice
At the end of the day, your sales training efforts on each of these skills will only go so far. That’s why we also recommend giving sellers plenty of chances to practice applying these skills in a variety of mock situations. Reading and learning about a skill is one thing, but great seller development happens when reps apply newly learned skills through intentional practice. This creates more confident sellers who know when and how to apply crucial skills when it really matters.
Take sales skills to the next level with sales training and coaching
Confidence is key for revenue teams. With on-demand practice exercises, teams can develop skills and learn 2.3x faster. The quality of training you provide your new sales reps can shape their future at your company.
Lessonly by Seismic provides a sales training and coaching experience that allows organizations to train 62% faster. If you’d like to learn more about how you can up-level your sales training program, request a demo.