11 Sales Skills to Help Your Sales Team Cross the Finish Line

To be successful in sales, there are several skills sellers must master. But how do you determine which skills will make the biggest impact? Which ones should you focus on?

The RAIN Group Center for Sales Research recently studied 1,000+ sales managers and sellers and discovered 11 skills and behaviors that represent the biggest skill gaps between Top Performers and The Rest (everyone else).

Here are 11 skills to focus on to get the edge on your competition.

1. Advanced Consultative Selling

This goes hand-in-hand with the #1 factor separating sales winners from second-place finishers: educating buyers with new ideas and perspectives. Being seen as an authority, sharing thought leadership, and developing a trusted-advisor relationship are great ways to differentiate yourself and inspire buyers to come to you.

Top Performers are 1.9x more likely to excel at inspiring buyers to reach out for ideas and advice.

2. Focus

Today’s work environment is oversaturated with distractions and demands, but the best sellers don’t let this derail them from their goals. Top Performers are 73% more likely than The Rest to focus on their own agenda and not get derailed by others.

Smart sellers don’t waste time. They say no to:

  • Meetings they could be briefed on later or by email
  • Repeated status updates
  • Taking over a project they don’t own
  • Talking to unqualified prospects

3. Sales Coaching

Fifty percent of Top Performers strongly agree managers motivate sellers for high productivity

and performance.

This is the #1 skill of sales managers according to top-performing sellers, and the greatest difference between Top-Performing Sales Managers and other sales managers.

It’s also critical that sales managers themselves are highly productive to drive their own success and inspire their teams to be highly motivated for productivity and performance.

4. Productive Habits

Top Performers are 1.7x more likely to change their habits when needed to improve results.

But changing habits can be tough.

To help, use the framework, “When I, Then I. Will I?” For example, “When I log on in the morning, then I will send five prospecting emails.” You call attention to the trigger and then direct your attention to the productive habit.

By asking, “Will I?” you hold yourself accountable.

5. Account Growth

It costs more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. One of the biggest opportunities for top-line growth is in finding and capitalizing on cross-selling and up-selling opportunities. But there are some big hurdles for teams to overcome.

Most sellers:

· Don’t know enough about the other offerings in their organization.

· Don’t see the additional opportunities.

· Don’t trust other areas of the organization or are territorial about their accounts.

· Don’t bring their internal teams together to explore ways to add value.

· Don’t have the facilitation skills to fully explore the value they can offer clients.

Top Performers are 65% more likely to excel at cross-selling and up-selling, but there’s work to be done for all sellers.

6. Sales Presentations

Eighty percent of buyers say sellers lack presentation skills.

Leading persuasive proposal presentations is a final step to winning the sale. While the presentation itself is important, preparation ahead of time is essential to ensure you hit the mark.

Some things you’ll want to do ahead of time include:

· Know who will be involved on your team and the buyer’s

· Do your research on the buyer team that will be present

· Involve everyone on your team and the buyer’s

· Find out who your competitors are and when their presentations are happening

7. Referrals

Top Performers are 1.6x more likely to excel at getting referrals from buyers and other relationships.

· Many sellers are uncomfortable asking for referrals. Here are some ideas to help you get your referral engine started…

· Update your LinkedIn profile and stay engaged with your contacts

· Give referrals to contacts in your network.

· Provide valuable content your referral sources can share with their networks.

· Ask for a referral!

8. Relationship Building

Building strong, long-term relationships with buyers leads to repeat business, account growth, increased referrals, and greater revenue and margin.

But in a hybrid world, it can be difficult to build rapport in traditional ways. Start by:

· Reserving time at the beginning of calls for rapport-building.

· Joining the call a few minutes early.

· Going beyond sharing names/roles.

· Coming armed with rapport-building questions.

Research shows that 57% of Top Performers excel at building strong, long-term relationships with buyers.

9. Impact Case

You need to make a strong ROI case for buyers so they can justify purchase decisions. Uncover what matters to them during your conversations and you’ll be able to demonstrate how you’ll make an impact in that area.

This can include:

· Time to market

· Profitability

· Waste

· Cost savings

· Quality improvements

· Brand recognition or preference

· Employee productivity

Thirty-nine percent of sellers strongly agree they understand how their solution meets the business needs and ROI of buyers.

10. Sales Conversations

Salespeople are often told: “The sellers who succeed the most always ask great questions.”

This is true to a point, but some sellers take the advice too literally.

If you always ask questions, you won’t share a point of view or an opinion, won’t tell stories, and won’t help set the agenda for success.

The key is to balance advocacy and inquiry.

Top Performers are 62% more likely to lead conversations with the right balance of asking questions and talking.

11. Time Management

According to our research, the most productive people are more satisfied with their jobs, more likely to be top performers, and are happier.

Maximizing time spent on activities that drive the best results is key. This means planning and being deliberate in how you spend your TIME.

T — Treasured. This is time you hold dear

I — Investment. This is time that generates outsized returns.

M — Mandatory. This is time you feel you must spend.

E — Empty. This is time you waste.

Extremely productive people (The XP) are 4.2x more likely to minimize low-impact activities and 40% of Top Performers maximize time spent on activities that drive the best results.

Get your teams across the finish line by improving in these 11 areas.

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RAIN Group

RAIN Group

Named a Top 20 Sales Training Company by Selling Power, RAIN Group delivers results through in-person and virtual sales training, coaching, and reinforcement.