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Sales Force Learning: 4 Specific Target Areas
Blog / For Sales Pros / Sep 17, 2013 / Posted by Nikolaus Kimla / 3423 

Sales Force Learning: 4 Specific Target Areas

Are you wondering how to improve your sales force learning curve?

Are you happy with how you are your sales force doing?

As we’ve been pointing out, a continuing education to improve sales force learning curve—through practical means such as tips and tricks from proven sales experts, videos and even seminars—can mean the difference between relatively unchanging closing ratios and those that are consistently improving.

But looking deeper than a general concept of “sales skills,” here are four key areas that if competently addressed with proper skill enhancement will achieve ongoing sales force learning curve improvement:

Improving the Sales Force Learning Curve#1: Social and Communication Skills

Social and communication skills are a sales rep’s stock-in-trade. These are the basic crm tools a salesperson uses to sell. Without them a salesperson is going to achieve little to no results.

Breaking this down even further, there are specific abilities that should be present in any sales rep. Chief among these is the ability to listen and rapidly understand what the prospect is saying. A salesperson should not “talk over” the prospect in a misguided effort to make himself or herself look good or appear knowledgeable; that appearance will truthfully only come about because the rep listened completely and genuinely heard and understood what the prospect was telling him or her.

There are a whole host of basic skills associated with communication. As with anyone else, it will be found that salespeople are strong in some and weaker in others. The regular strengthening of them all will make for a much stronger sales force learning curve.

#2: Full Understanding of Product Lines and Industry

It may not seem obvious at first, but part of a sales rep’s social skills includes a full understanding of the industry in which he or she is operating.

In an exaggerated example, a sales rep expert at selling shoes is not going to do a very good job selling a high-end database solution to a car manufacturer, unless that rep puts in the necessary hours understanding the auto industry, databases in general, how they fit into the auto industry and how the rep’s specific product figures into it all. What kind of impression will that shoe salesman make on an IT executive at Ford Motor Company? Is the IT executive even likely to take that rep’s calls again? Not likely. So knowledge of product, industry and potential buyer actually does fit into social skills.

This one aspect is particularly ongoing; within any industry, there are constantly new product innovations and changes in requirements. The more the sales rep is on top of such things, the better he or she is going to come across to a potential customer.

#3: Sales Force Understanding of Buyers

It would also be part of a sales rep’s social skills to possess a thorough understanding of the specific company to which he or she is trying to sell. In the old days this could be problematic; only an on-site visit would yield the kind of understanding necessary to make it work. That has all changed with the internet; unless you’re dealing with a company that keeps much of its information confidential, it is relatively easy to learn a great deal about a company before contacting their buyer or the first person with whom you will be dealing.

The more a sales rep knows about a company, the better will be that first impression on the potential buyer or buyers, and, as a result, the more trust a rep is going to engender within that company.

#4: Sales Force Learning and Closing Techniques

Closing techniques are often the singular focus of sales books, videos and seminars.

They are obviously very important; without them the sale isn’t going to happen. But interestingly without the basic areas above achieved, closing techniques will do little to assist the situation.

However given that communication skills exist along with adequate knowledge of the industry and prospect, sales reps also need that additional ability to gently change the prospect from someone who is interested into someone who is buying. That is the craft that sets salespeople apart from the rest of the business world, or for that matter from society in general.

There are an endless variety of closing techniques that can and should be passed along to sales reps. While salespeople often possess their own techniques that they have successfully used, the amassed experience of well over 100 years of sales expertise is out there, and should be made regularly available so that salespeople can consistently sharpen their skills.

There is much more a sales force can learn, but these four key areas are essential and if regularly enhanced will lead to ever-increasing sales force—and company—success.

Look for our other articles on continuing sales rep education.

About Author

A 30-year veteran of the computer industry, Nikolaus has founded and run several software companies. He and his company uptime iTechnology are the developers of World-Check, a risk intelligence platform eventually sold to Thomson Reuters for $520 million. He is currently the founder and CEO of Pipelinersales, Inc., developer and publisher of Pipeliner CRM, the first CRM application aimed squarely at actually empowering salespeople. Also a prolific writer, Nikolaus has authored over 100 ebooks, articles and white papers addressing the subjects of sales management, leadership and sales itself.

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