Sales · · 8 min read

Essential Sales Skills Every Rep Should Learn & How to Create a Training Program

Sales skills are essential for sustainable and holistic sales growth. Reps must learn to show bottom-line impact, ask the right questions, and build authentic relationships. 

sales skills

Revenue is the most important metric for business growth. You need to sell more products to boost revenue, and reps who want to sell more must develop their sales skills.

This leads to increased opportunities for sales growth for your business and career advancements for your reps.

Sales skills should be holistic. It doesn’t start and stop with negotiations. Modern sales reps, especially those in B2B and SaaS, should learn the tools and strategies to build scalable and sustainable pipelines. 

Whether you’re a business owner aiming to enable your sales team or a sales rep looking to grow, here's what we are covering in this article:

  • Why skill development is important
  • What sales skills should you develop
  • How to conduct sales training
  • Tools and strategies every sales rep should have

Is Sales Skill Development Important?

Every sales team can have a superstar—that one rep you can rely on to consistently hit individual quotas. But one sales rep won’t be enough if you want to scale. All sales reps should have the proper skills development training, which leads to the following benefits:

Sales Reps Close More Deals

When sales reps have all the tools and resources to do their job well, they close more deals. You can’t just hire superstar sales reps and expect them to close deals left and right. 

Sales enablement allows reps to focus on selling rather than the mundane, repetitive sales process tasks. They can also better identify their prospects' needs and build better relationships. 

Better Relationship-Building Skills

Customers are more likely to buy products or services from people they trust, so relationship-building skills should always be an emphasis. 

Building rapport allows sales reps to understand their prospects, find unconsidered needs, and create better value propositions that resonate with each lead. 

More Knowledgeable About Products

Sales reps need the proper materials to learn your product's ins and outs. This helps them position your products as the ultimate solution to prospect needs. Paired with persuasion principles, sales reps get a higher chance of closing sales. 

If prospects have objections, reps can share the right content to address them. Reps who know more about your products can also become advisors instead of just another salesperson. 

Increased Productivity

With the proper tools and strategies, sales reps can streamline and optimize their workflow. However, tools and techniques must be developed in parallel with sales skills. 

Reps need to learn how to leverage their resources and tools to become more optimized. For example, if you’re using new tech stacks, you must ensure proper onboarding and training. 

Boosts Sales Team Morale

Sales teams that crush quotas will likely have higher team morale. It creates a positive feedback loop that helps each rep stay motivated and incentivized to perform. 

High sales team morale is best achieved when each member performs at a base level. Nobody gets left behind, and top performers still get their moment in the spotlight. 

What Sales Skills Should You Develop?

sales skill development

Sales skills take time to develop. It’s not something that happens overnight. But, with the multitudes of sales skills, which ones should you develop first? 

Here are the fundamental sales skills that are essential for the growth and success of any individual sales rep and business: 

How to Show Bottom Line Impact

Buzzwords are dead. The greatest sales reps cut the fluff and focus on the bottom line. 

That’s easier said than done. The best way to show bottom-line impact is to sell the idea first. 

Talk about the impact of your solution compared to the prospect’s current one. Showcase how much they can save using your product. And, highlight how much revenue they can earn. 

But always contextualize the information first. Sales reps must ask many questions to position their products as the ultimate solution. 

Learning The Right Questions to Ask

Sales isn’t about presenting your product’s value. It’s about showing and contextualizing how your product can benefit your prospects. This starts with asking the right questions. 

Don’t think of it as a script or cheat sheet. Sales reps need to learn how to adapt to each prospect, and every discovery call should help them better understand them.

Learn about their current process, goals, and obstacles. Let’s say you learned about a prospect’s labor costs, production costs, and the time it takes to do daily tasks.

When reps understand their prospects, they can contextualize how much revenue and productivity they are losing from their current solution.  

Understanding Prospects’ Needs and Unconsidered Needs

A common mistake in most cold sales email copy is that they assume things about a prospect. 

For example, if an email says, “{{manual task}} takes up hours, but {{product}} can easily automate it.” What if prospects don’t actually do that task or already have an automation tool? 

The email is likely to come off as generic and spammy. The key to getting into a conversation with a prospect is expressing a desire to understand them further. 

Dig deep, ask the right questions, and go beyond surface-level pain points often resulting from underlying issues. These underlying issues are unconsidered needs your product might solve. 

As reps learn more about prospects and offer value, they shift away from a sales role and become advisors—a resource they can trust, ultimately leading to an authentic relationship. 

Building Authentic Relationships

Most sales outreach efforts fail because they are too transactional and generic. Personalization is the key to building authentic relationships. 

Sales reps must research high-value prospects and create relevant and engaging sales email copy based on the data gathered. This takes a lot of time, especially if it's done manually. 

That’s where tools like Instantly B2B Lead Finder comes in. It’s a prospecting tool that offers lead intelligence data to help sales reps personalize sales outreach at scale. 

Leveraging Tools to Streamline and Automate the Sales Process

Every salesperson must learn four fundamental tools: prospecting, sales lead management (CRM), outreach, and nurturing. 

Prospecting tools can streamline finding someone’s email address, segmentation, and qualification. When sales reps do prospecting, they should also consider email validation.

sales skills

With B2B Lead Finder, you get all of these. As you prospect, you can segment and qualify leads using advanced search filters. You don’t have to pay for an email validation tool. All leads are pre-qualified. All that’s left is to reach out. 

Outreach tools like Instantly let reps automate sales emails, follow-ups, and nurturing. Lead intelligence data from B2B Finder can be used as custom variables to personalize sales emails. 

If you’re looking for a CRM, Instantly also has you covered with Dealflow, which allows you to engage, tag, and monitor leads as they move through your sales pipelines. 

How to Create a Sales Skills Development Training Program

sales skills development program

Sales skills development training requires an initial assessment, training sessions, coaching, role-playing, evaluations, and reinforcement. Here are the seven steps to creating a sales skills development program that includes all of these: 

Define Objectives and Goals

The first step to creating a holistic sales skills development training program is clearly defining your objectives, goals, and benchmarks. 

Identify your sales team's current needs. What skills and knowledge does your sales team need to be more efficient, and how does this align with your business goals and objectives? To start you off, here are examples of learning objectives your sales team could use as benchmarks: 

  • Asking the right questions 
  • How to better handle objections
  • Reframing objections 
  • Building rapport
  • Learning how to use automation tools

Identify the gaps between each member's business goals, objectives, and sales skills and select a curriculum to help fill them. 

Forecast Potential Sales Skills Training Challenges

Identifying potential sales training program challenges helps you mitigate or avoid them altogether. Consider your trainees, instructors, scheduling, logistics, and learning materials. 

For example, many inside sales teams work remotely. Trainers might have issues with scheduling, which could be a challenge if you’re using a hybrid sales model. 

By forecasting potential issues, you can craft a training program that works around them and quickly determine the most effective sales training methodology. 

Choose a Sales Skills Training Methodology

The best sales training methodology considers your sales team's needs, the resources you have available, and the logistics required to conduct training. Some of the most popular sales skills training methodologies include the following:

  • Instructor-led training (ILT)
  • Self-directed training
  • Group sessions 
  • Lectures
  • One-on-one coaching
  • Roleplaying or simulations 
  • Providing resources like sales books

There isn’t a universal sales skills training methodology. In most cases, it’s best to combine different sales methodologies to keep training dynamic and flexible. Ensure you accommodate each individual's learning styles and provide support when necessary. 

Create Benchmarks for Sales Training Assessment

You need to set benchmarks to determine whether or not your sales training is practical. For most sales skills training, assessments are done at different stages. Here are some of the benchmarks you can include in your sales training assessment:

  • Does your sales team understand the material presented during training?
  • Do they have mastery of a topic?
  • Is your sales team retaining the information and applying it to their work?

Although these aren’t hard metrics, they are quick ways to gauge the effectiveness of the training. You’d have to see the difference in your sales team’s performance for specific, quantifiable metrics. 

Launch the Sales Skills Training Program

After going through all the steps, it’s time to deliver the sales training program you created. When launching a training program, one thing to always consider is the scope and cost. 

You could start with a smaller group first. Think of it as a beta test before investing in a large-scale training program for your entire sales department. 

Collect Data, Analyze Feedback, and Evaluate Performance

Collecting data after the sales training is essential to compare your sales team’s performance before the training. Also, remember to gather feedback from your sales team. 

Even if individual performance is significantly improved, collecting feedback can help you create better sales skills training in the future. For evaluations, you can look into the following:

  • How did your sales team react to the training? Was it positive or negative?
  • Does your sales team think the training material was high quality?
  • Are there any behavioral changes that manifested after training?
  • Were there improvements in individual sales performance? 

Aside from evaluating individual sales reps, getting feedback from sales managers, customer support teams, and even customers is essential. 

Refine the Sales Training

Sales skills training is an ongoing process because sales constantly evolve. New strategies, tools, and opportunities are always available for those who want to seize them. 

Refine your sales training strategy to keep it dynamic. Learn from mistakes and iterate on best practices. Another training program might be in order when you have new products or services or if you want to implement new strategies like social selling

Remember to continuously update learning content, leverage mixed media, and consider feedback from multiple sources to improve the sales training experience. 

Who Should Conduct the Sales Skills Training Program?

Sales training can’t be delivered by just anyone. Luckily, professionals inside and outside your company could qualify as trainers. However, this depends heavily on the type and format of the training program you created. 

You can look into sales team managers or high-performing sales staff for in-house trainers. Outside professionals can offer coaching or help with crafting sales training programs.

Key Takeaways

Developing sales skills is essential for the growth of any business. The best way to develop sales skills is by creating a sales training program that fits their needs.

This helps reps understand the tools, strategies, and materials needed to hit sales goals consistently. 

To recap, here are the fundamental sales skills that every salesperson should have:

  • Ability to show prospects the bottom-line impact
  • Asking the right questions during discovery calls
  • Understanding prospects’ needs and unconsidered needs
  • Building authentic relationships by becoming an advisor
  • Leveraging tools to streamline and automate the sales process

If you are looking for a tool to help your sales team automate and streamline prospecting, outreach, lead management, and nurturing, Instantly has you covered! Try it out today! 

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