How to Build a Powerful Sales Culture – Part II

The 5 Essential Skills Needed by Sales Reps and Sales Professionals.

In last month’s newsletter feature, we discussed how developing a sales culture in which everyone in an organization becomes part of the virtual sales team can help create overwhelming success. We also introduced the two basic types of team roles – sales representatives and sales professionals. In this second article of our six-part series on building sales culture, we focus on the essential set of sales skills needed by both sales representatives and sales professionals.

Are You a Sales Rep or a Sales Professional?

The answer to that question depends on what role you’re playing in the sales process at any given time and what skill set you’re using. To build a truly powerful sales culture within your organization, nurturing the sets of skills of both sales reps and sales professionals is important. So is understanding that we all use them regardless of our roles. I’ve said in my Sales Culture Workshops that “we’re all in sales,” and often that means simply thinking differently about what you’re doing.

Here we discuss the five basic sales rep skills needed by both sales reps and sales professionals:

  1. Product Knowledge
    Having a deep knowledge about the products or services you sell is the most fundamental sales skill needed. You should understand not only the features and benefits of your products, but also how they can add value to individual customers’ situations.
    A smart customer will often challenge your products and services. So be sure to anticipate their questions – and have the answers ready – to justify the value of your products.
  2. Prospect Identification
    Prospect identification and targeting (creating a target list) are complementary activities. Typically, you’ll start with a target list of prospects to pursue. Using this list, sales reps and sales professionals should do some initial research to determine whether the companies on the list have a need for your products or services. This will help provide you with a starting point for phone contacts and other sales outreach activities.
    Once you have made the phone call or cold call and detect a level of interest, you can begin to build your pipeline. Your pipeline is made up of organizations that may be interested in your products or services – they become your prospects.
  3. Discovery
    While prospecting involves making initial contact with an organization, discovery is asking the right questions to qualify prospects. Qualifying your prospects – determining if they are indeed potential customers – requires additional discovery (asking more questions) to help you better understand their full potential to purchase from your company. When prospects become potential customers, they are now in your pipeline.
  4. Effective Pipeline Management
    Your pipeline of potential customers is your path to success. Do you have a pipeline? Do you look at your pipeline every day and determine what you need to do to move each potential customer down the funnel toward closure?
    Once potential customers are in your pipeline, you need to:

    • Demonstrate the value in your products or services.
    • Communicate why they should purchase your products or services.
    • Help them understand the trade off between price and the value they’ll get.
    • Provide a contract for closing the sale.
    Understanding the mindset of your potential customers—as well as finding the best way to accommodate their needs—is critical for progressing to the next stage in the pipeline of the sales process and, ultimately, closing the sale.
  5. Handling Objections
    Handling objections is a regular part of the sales process. Although many sales reps may view objections as obstacles, they can actually be used as catalysts to help you learn more about potential customers’ needs. Objections give insight as to why a potential customer isn’t making a purchase. In addition, objections are reasons to keep moving ahead with potential customers, develop a better relationship with them, hone your offerings, and, of course, sell.
    If you understand why a potential customer says no, you can then find a way to remove the obstacle and complete the sale. This is a vital part of the success of every sales campaign. Be sure not to let objections end a sales campaign unnecessarily. Instead, use objections to conduct more discovery and showcase the value you provide.

In next month’s newsletter, we’ll talk about the additional skills you need to progress from sales rep to sales professional.

If you would like training tailored to your organization to help develop your sales team, contact me today about my course Great Sales Rep to Genius Sales Professional. Plus, my new book Everyone’s in Sales is now available. Click here to learn more about how you can get your copy and help your organization build a sales culture of its own.

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