Why hard skills are important for sales -- and how to master them
What makes one sales development representative rise to superhero status while everyone else is still trying to figure out how to put on their capes?
To ace a sales career, you need to practice both hard skills and soft skills. Oddly enough, there’s not a lot of clear information out there about hard skills for sales. Most advice lumps the two skill types together or gives soft skills the bulk of the attention.
But it’s important not to overlook hard skills in sales development training. If you want to stand out in a sales role, you need a solid grasp of the basics that make the whole sales process work.
What are hard skills?
Indeed.com defines hard skills as “technical knowledge or training that you have gained through any life experience, including your career or education.” In other words, hard skills are things you can learn to do through any type of training.
You can’t do your job unless you know how to do your job.
Hard skills are often job specific. You’ve probably seen them listed as bullet points in job postings, declaring, “At least 3 years experience using Some Popular CRM Platform required” or “Experience with This Common Word Processing Suite preferred.” You’re more likely to get hired if you have the desired know-how.
Soft skills, on the other hand, stem from your personality traits and influence how you interact with other people. You can learn the basics of these skills from someone else, but they’re mostly honed over time as you work in a sales role.
It’s easier for employers to measure hard skills than soft skills, but both are important in sales development training. We’ll cover soft skills in the next post -- for now, let’s focus on what hard skills employers are looking for and how to develop them so that you stand out!
Why are hard skills important?
The most obvious reason why hard skills are important in sales is that you can’t function as a rep without them. You’d be lost if you didn’t have the practical and technical knowledge required for the position.
Basically, you can’t do your job...unless you know how to do your job.
But hard skills have benefits beyond simplifying your day-to-day work. Mastering the technical aspects of an SDR role also:
It can also mean a bigger overall salary. If you’re really rocking it, connecting with prospects, cranking out emails and zipping through successful calls, you’ll close more deals and take home more commissions. You might even catch your boss’s eye with your SDR superhero talents and get a bonus.
(That shouldn’t be your only motivation, but it’s nothing to sneeze at, right?)
What hard skills do sales development reps need?
Sales advice often talks up the importance of communication, teamwork and dedication, but you can’t be great at those without working on hard skills first. Here’s what you need to master to be amazing in an SDR role:
How to develop hard skills for sales
You should have picked up some of the skills you’ll need as a sales development rep when you were in school, but you can’t stop there if you want to be truly great at what you do. Boost those skills -- and show your boss you’re serious about your job -- by:
Of course, you should never underestimate the power of learning on the job! (Check out the video for a breakdown of the benefits.)
Continue to practice your skills once you’ve landed a sales job. Colleagues can be a wealth of information; they know all the tricks and hacks to make the sales process even more efficient. Hang out with them for a while, and you’ll start to assimilate their sales superhero secrets. (But you have to actually use what you learn -- it doesn’t happen by osmosis!)
What if you want to get going with those hard skills for sales right now? TheSDS Sales Leadership Training Course gives you access to training drawn from on-the-job SDR experience. You get access to everything you need to know to land -- and succeed -- in an SDR role, plus personalized coaching for that added edge. Join the Sales Dev Squad today to get started!
Make the most of your day with super time management skills
Time management is one of the foundational skills every sales rep needs to master.
Before you roll your eyes and think, “Yeah, I’ve heard that one a million times,” consider this: Good time management skills are vital if you want to succeed in anything, not just sales.
Life isn’t supposed to be one endless run on the hamster wheel. When you learn to manage time and tasks well as a sales rep, those skills translate into other areas and can make your entire life better. Here’s how to wield that power like a pro.
What is Time Management?
Let’s start with what time management is not. It’s not a fruitless “herding cats” pursuit where you try to cram every task into the limited amount of time available in a day. Rather, it’s a set of processes and skills that make it possible to organize and plan intelligently. You come to an understanding of how to allocate your time to high-priority activities with the goal of reaching specific objectives.
What Are the Benefits of Time Management?
Learning time management basics before you step into a sales development rep role unlocks some pretty cool benefits:
All of this contributes to better outcomes in every area of your job. You’re more focused, so you contact more prospects, move them through the pipeline faster, and close more sales. That means more commissions -- and more revenue. It’s a positive feedback loop that makes your boss happy and has some pretty good perks for you, too.
How to Ace Time Management Without Stress
Now that you know why time management is important and not just some cliché experts like to throw around to make it seem like they have it all together, it’s time to put the relevant skills and processes into practice.
Don’t worry: It’s not overwhelming, and you don’t have to bend the time-space continuum to make it work. You just need to follow a few basic tenets of sales time management.
Learn to Plan
Making the most of your time starts with well-defined goals. As a sales rep, you have targets to hit each month, which contributes to the larger goals of the company. Then there are your personal and professional aspirations, like getting a raise or being promoted to a higher position.
Create your plans for each month, week, and day around these goals. Use the hours where you’re most productive to knock out the biggest, most demanding tasks, and plan your sales calls around your prospects’ schedules to avoid conflicts and delays. Once you have a basic plan, translate it into specific to-do lists so that you have a specific focus for every day.
Recognize Real Priorities
How do you know which tasks should be at the top of your to-do list? Here’s a hint: Anything that contributes directly to accomplishing your goals should get done first.
In sales, this often means making calls and following up in pursuit of closing deals. Study your sales pipeline to identify the most promising prospects, and make them top priority. Honing in like this removes the false sense of urgency that tells you it’s imperative to call everyone and do everything right now and lets you focus on closing sales.
Say No to Pointless Distractions
Distractions are the arch nemeses of time management in sales. Some of the worst include:
The bottom line here? Don’t do more than one thing at a time. Stick to your daily plan, and use a time management app to block your biggest productivity killers (like those TikTok videos…).
Streamline, Templatize and Automate
This three-in-one tip tackles the question of how to be organized in sales from several angles. A lot of the tasks SDRs do every day are related, like making calls, sending emails, and recording or updating client data. You can make it all go faster by:
With more tasks running in the background and fewer incidences where you have to reinvent the wheel to get something done, your days will start to roll along like those tumbleweeds in old Westerns (only with much more purpose and direction).
Take Real Breaks
You know that moment around three in the afternoon when it starts to feel like your computer screen punched you in the face? That’s the signal it’s time for a break.
A real break, not, “I just finished this thing, so now it’s time to check my email/scroll through Facebook/laugh at those TikTok videos.”
A real break means gets you away from work and screens to take a walk, stretch, grab a coffee, or chat with a coworker who’s also on break. Unlike context switching, taking breaks helps you stay more alert and productive, so give yourself wiggle room in your schedule for brief moments of refreshment throughout the day.
After a few weeks of planning and prioritizing, you’ll realize you can’t do all the things. It’s just not possible. And part of learning sales time management is giving yourself permission to not feel guilty about leaving a few things undone.
Nothing is 100% predictable, so there will be days when you get thrown off or just can’t manage a full workload. When that happens, reorient your priorities for the next day and keep moving forward.
While these tips can be a big help, keep in mind that time management isn’t something you learn overnight. It’s a process, which is why it’s smart to start learning now, even if you’re not in a sales role yet.
SDS Sales training is here to help you master time management and other essential skills you need to succeed as an SDR. Check out our Sales Leadership Training Course and YouTube Channel to get a head start on acing time management skills and becoming the most productive sales rep -- and the most productive person! -- you can be.