7 basics to ace a sales rep role with enthusiasm and style.
You probably know and practice basic sales skills in daily life without realizing it. But the people who attain sales development rep superhero status are the ones who hone those skills to give themselves laser focus and maximum efficiency.
So strap on your cape (or not; jet engines can be dangerous), and get ready to rock your next sales job with these seven sales skills and techniques.
1) Researching: Knowing and understanding everything you can about your prospects before you get on calls is one of the keys to closing deals. That means the research skills you learned while pulling all-nighters to finalize reports and projectsdo, in fact, come in handy in the “real” world. A successful pitch depends on a clear understanding of how the product or service you’re selling fits into prospects’ business models.
To level up your prospecting, familiarize yourself with industry trends, market developments and the activities of prominent companies. Industry publications and podcasts have all the latest news, so you can start becoming an expert during your downtime!
2) Listening: This tip pops up in just about every resource on how to improve sales skills. Can you guess why?
Right. Because listening is incredibly,incrediblyimportant in sales.
Most peoplethinkthey know how to listen, but sitting there playing on your phone or formulating your next sentence long before the other person has stopped talking doesn’t count. In sales, you need to practiceactivelistening. You need to learn what it’s like to pay attention when interacting with prospects.
Active listening has three major benefits for sales reps:
It helps you understand if a prospect is a good fit.
It reveals the prospect’s true stage in the buying cycle.
It prevents inappropriately timed pitches.
To get these benefits, commit to really hearing bothwhat prospects say and the tone they use. Reiterate what they tell you to make sure you understand. And watch body language when you’re on video calls -- subtle changes in expression or stance can speak volumes about what someone thinks of your pitch.
3) Empathizing: Active listening makes empathy possible in sales. People are emotional beings, and your prospects have more than just financial reasons for accepting or rejecting offers. You’re going to come up against objections, and you can’t close sales if you just steamroll over people in an attempt to get a sale.
Empathy starts when you understand that no one is going to be a 100% perfect fit for your product or service. The response will be more positive if you let prospects tellyouwhat they need instead of the other way around. Even if they still don’t buy, they’ll appreciate your caring attitude and be more likely to either send qualified referrals your way or come back when they have a need you can meet in the future.
In other words, an empathetic approach builds trust. And trust is the basis for lucrative business relationships.
4) Serving: A real superhero uses sales skills and abilities to do more than close deals and hit metrics. Think about it: What’s the ultimate purpose driving any superhero worth his spandex costume?
Service in sales means putting prospects first. It doesn’t matter whether you think they’re going to become high-paying customers or not. Your job is to apply what you learn about prospects to make them feel known, understood and important. Give them a preview of the type of service they can expect if (when!) they accept your proposal.
They might just feel like you’ve swept in to save the day.
5) Adding Value: Value is probably the most overused -- and least understood -- buzzword in the business world. Ask a random group of people what it means to “add value” to an interaction or transaction, and you’ll get an equally random group of answers.
That doesn’t mean it’s not important.
Consider these questions before you talk to prospects:
What resources can you point them to that will solve their problems?
What will reorient their thinking to move them along the sales funnel?
How can you address the biggest industry issues affecting their companies?
What can you do to improve their businesses -- or even their personal lives --right now?
When you get down to it, “adding value” is about helping prospects. So, review your research and tap into that service mindset to exceed expectations on every sales call.
6) Being Funny: Humor is often overlooked when learning sales skills. Which is too bad because a prospect faced with a pitch is likely to expect one of two things:
A dry, boring presentation involving endless slides and a droning voice reminiscent of a Charlie Brown cartoon
An aggressive and/or desperate bid for their business, followed by senseless negotiation in an attempt to get them to part with their money
Using a dose of lighthearted humor busts these stereotypes to catch prospects off-guard -- in a good way. Laughter is the ultimate ice breaker. It brings authenticity and personality to emails and sales calls and shows you’re willing to think outside the box.
A word of caution here: Keep humor appropriate for the context of the situation. Practicing active listening and honing your empathy skills will help you avoid the dreaded foot-in-mouth disease.
7) Planning: Anyone wondering how to improve sales skills needs to buckle down on planning. You can’t achieve true superhero status if you don’t learn how to make and execute a plan for applying your skills in an efficient way.
Practice makes progress on this one. As you get familiar with a sales rep role, you’ll begin to see patterns in the way you work. Any action you repeat on a regular basis can become part of a system to streamline your day.Turn repeatable tasks into workflowsto maximize productivity. If you can actually automate some of the process, that’s even better!
Which of these basic sales skills do you already use? Which ones can you grow in?
Let SDS Sales Training put you on the path to becoming the sales superhero you know you can be.Get started today with basic sales skills training, and you’ll earn that cape in no time. (Or one of those cool superhero masks, if incognito is more your thing.)