Whether you’re offering a product to a customer, services to an entire industry, or an idea that is destined to change the future of commerce, the ability to sell those products, services, and ideas is dependent on developing professional selling skills. Sales skills, long considered the province of the person peddling insurance door to door, or the disreputable used-car salesperson down the block, is now viewed as instrumental expertise that does more than merely pad the well-documented retail sales resume.
Basic selling skills have more use than in business alone. For instance, what better chance do you have to go to the restaurant of your choice than by selling the idea to your friends and family? The point is, we live in a world that is guided by persuasion, and influenced by a compelling sales narrative, so burnishing your sales resume with selling tips and techniques that are geared towards identifying customer needs and closing sales in a prompt and satisfying manner that guarantees repeat business with that customer.
Honing your sales skills and techniques translates into improved performance and seamless transitioning between an interested buyer and a satisfied paying customer. Developing sales skills allows you the insight to anticipate customer concerns, which can be easily paired to a selling narrative that positions your products and services as the perfect solution to solve their problems.
Even in retail, retail selling skills can give the customer an extra nudge to purchase an item. Once they hear of the fire sale of the day, they might be a little more excited to pick up that winter scarf in June. Retail sales skills can be applied to any industry whether you are in sales or not. In retail, you can face customers that reject or even ignore you. Through experience, employees learn not to take things personally and move on to the next opportunity.
Why sales knowledge matters
It’s plain and simple: the best sales teams consistently deliver for their organizations. But superb sales skills don’t come naturally to every rep. You see, sales knowledge comes from sales training, enablement, and coaching from dedicated managers, leaders, tools, and resources. And, the most effective sales training educates reps on sales skills and techniques via all-inclusive industry best practices that breed success.
Let’s break this down.
The basic understanding of essential sales skills is a fun little mix of what a rep might already know how to do, like manage their time, manage a relationship post-sale, or provide exceptional customer service from day one, but also what a rep needs to learn, like product knowledge, qualifying questioning, or the ins-and-outs of the sales process. And, in order to provide the best overall experience to a prospect or current customer, reps must be up to speed on the latest sales techniques. People don’t have time or patience for old-school selling techniques like overselling a product, smooth talkin’, or fake enthusiasm. Prospects respond better to reps who pitch solutions over products, introduce unconsidered needs, and appeal to their emotions and not just data. In fact, strong sales skills means being able to explain how your product works, what value it provides, and why your prospects need it.
How to develop sales skills with training and enablement
Developing sales skills takes time. It might take a little time before a best practice is identified but the cool part is that by that time, it becomes a common practice. In order to get to that point, the proper onboarding and ongoing enablement needs to occur to develop sales skills. Although training takes up a majority of the onboarding process, things like formal introductions, job shadowing, tours, etc, make an employee feel well-acquainted within a company.
Successful onboarding requires passionate players and efficient technology that gives admins the tools to create informative and engaging content. Onboarding training is important to help employees start performing at a company, but ongoing training will keep them informed, prepared, and primed for learning sales skills.
The sales enablement piece is an up-and-down ride that moves the needle where it matters, driving sales teams to peak performance and customers to brand loyalty. By investing in both onboarding training and ongoing sales enablement, you are helping your reps improve sales skills by giving them the information, content, and tools to help them sell more effectively. Afterall, the pure foundation of sales enablement is to provide sellers with what they need to successfully engage the buyer throughout the buying process.
Sales training topics that improve sales skills
Finding the right sales training program is key to your effectiveness with clients and customers. Top sales training programs should teach every aspect of a sale, from approaching cold leads to closing the deal. Companies that provide courses for employees to maintain and improve their sales skills after initial onboarding see drastic increases in their sales.
We all learn new skills differently. Some of us might thrive in a classroom, others might find reading the best way to absorb info, and some might learn better by watching videos online. Whatever your reps’ learning style, specialized sales training courses for beginners and seasoned reps provide high-quality training that you can learn in your own time to master the best sales techniques list. Some key sales training topics include:
Company background info
The first thing new sales reps need to know, regardless of prior experience, is the details of their organization. Part of their sales training should include an introduction into that business, along with its culture, mission, and vision statement. Your sales team will represent the organization to the outside world like little billboards running around everywhere; their messaging needs to be consistent.
Know the customer
Spend more time listening than talking. Without the focus on the correct sales training topics, reps too often qualify leads and send them down the pipeline when they are simply not a good fit. Why? Because. they. didn’t. listen. carefully. enough. to what the lead was saying on that initial call. Teach your reps to ask if they have the budget, authority, need and timeframe to pursue your solution.
Don’t focus on just one method of sales approach. Phone calls, face-to-face, social media, emailing… they should all be part of this party. However, the experience of each rep can really come into play here. A veteran might spend more time dedicated to social selling and working on referrals, whereas a new rep may have to pick up the phone more or dedicate more time making face-to-face visits.
Negotiations and cold deals
Even without open pushback, every sales professional reaches a point at which contact becomes less productive, and the prospect seems unwilling to commit. At that point, it might make sense to move on to more relevant leads. Train your employees to recognize that point and know how to gently end a chain of messages or calls while still keeping the possibilities open for future re-engagement.
Sales communication skills
Sales communication skills are by far the most important weapon in a salesperson’s arsenal, so you have to make sure yours are sharp and ready to use. Good communication is essential to sales success, and sales communication skills are crucial to being able to build rapport with prospects, share important information effectively, and answering prospects’ questions. Your value proposition, your pricing, even your product’s features don’t matter unless you’re able to get your prospects to talk to you and listen to what you have to say. The importance of communication in sales largely means you need to understand the interpersonal skills for sales including how your prospects learn, what they care about, and what communication style they prefer. Then, you can adapt your strategy accordingly. Luckily, these things can all be found with sales communication skills training.
Sales demo skills
A sales demo is one of the best ways to demonstrate a product or service to a potential customer, but it needs to include pieces of knowledge about the prospect, too. That’s right—the “what is a sales demo” should also have a “who is the sale for” component. It’s not just about your product. It’s a tool to create a conversation, build rapport, develop a relationship, and present a solution for the prospect’s problem. An efficient way to do this is to start with a sales demo script for your new sales reps. But this isn’t the kind of script you recite word for word. Instead, you want to make sure your salespeople are familiar with the flow of your script—like when to introduce the next feature or benefit and when they should speak more quickly or slowly. This helps create a natural introduction to the prospect, which outlines your product and highlights how your offering can make them more successful!
Sales demo training
Because a sales demo is so critical to the overall success of the selling process, there should be ongoing training that enables sales reps to keep demo skills sharp. It’s not a one-and-done thing, folks. The training part of sales demo duties and responsibilities should be on repeat. And, in order to successfully prepare a sales presentation for a product or service, organizations will want to include important components like:
- Product knowledge: Sales reps need to be a product expert. Prospects expect you to know how your product solves their problems. As a rule of thumb, you need to be able to answer a high percentage of questions asked during the demo, or it’s clear you’re not ready to sell.
- Full understanding of the demo software: We don’t need to tell you that stumbling through a presentation is no good. You know this. Practice a bunch, and then practice some more so you are well-versed and able to troubleshoot any potential issues.
- Understanding your prospect: Compelling demonstrations demand a deep understanding of the issues your prospects face. Understanding lets you map the benefits of your product to your prospects’ needs, such as how your product or service has helped others like them. These insights provide a valuable service to your prospect and put them at ease by showing them you have relevant experience in areas they care about.
- Communication skills: Again, practice those interpersonal skills for sales like active listening, teamwork, patience, and flexibility. Make your demo a conversation rather than just talking AT your audience.
- Set expectations for next steps: Let the prospect know upfront what’s required on their end for the solution to be successful. Maybe show a final slide to summarize the discussion in terms of the prospect’s necessary commitment, skills, time, willingness to learn, and budget for the solution to be a worthwhile investment for them.
Anything we want to improve upon requires practice, right? Learning to swim, winning a spelling bee, or beating that hard level on a video game, and even sales demos! The very best sales demonstration techniques and best sales presentation skills aren’t mastered overnight. it’s created after hours of work, input, tweeking, and feedback. That’s why reps need to practice giving personalized demos before they hop on sales calls. They also need to ask for and receive feedback from leaders and their fellow sales teammates and then take that feedback right into each sales demo training. After all, if your demo looks clunky, your prospects will likely lose interest. Find a safe way to show the good stuff, then practice until you can do it on autopilot.
A killer sales demo will win you the deal even if you don’t meet all of your prospect’s requirements. Your product’s features become less important when the prospect believes they’re buying into a true partnership. That belief stems from the seed that’s planted when the prospect experiences a humanized, well-crafted sales demo from a rep who has been doing the work to perfect their sales demo training.
Hone essential sales skills with training and enablement
Okay, so now you understand a bit better how sales enablement can help sales teams deliver ongoing training, practice, and coaching so reps and teams can improve their sales skills, right? Introducing basic sales training topics without boring your sales team to death is tough, to say the least. But you can do it and we can help.
Our enablement software usually fits into the picture when organizations prioritize ongoing learning. Sales skills training doesn’t end after Week 1. Sales reps not only need superb onboarding training, but ongoing training, too. We’ll guide you through how to practice sales skills, build an unlimited amount of learning materials, assign training, and assess skills.