No matter how sophisticated your processes and how experienced your sales team are, basic sales skills will always be vital when it comes to ensuring the overall success of your business. Your best sales people will be those who have the ability to listen, question, identify needs, sell benefits, build relationships and ultimately close deals. But as technology, customers and organisations change with the times, so must a sales person’s skills. Whether you’re recruiting for your next sales star or training up your existing team, here are the future skills you need:
The ability ‘to de-educate’
Customers are researching products and services more than ever before. In fact, 79% of shoppers research products before buying in-store, according to Salesforce, with online reviews regularly consulted before making a purchasing decision. Research suggests 93% of consumers let online reviews impact their purchasing decision, which is not always good news for your sales people. The nature of the world wide web means that not all information out there regarding your products, services and company will be accurate – and as we all know, a little knowledge can be dangerous.
Your future sales stars should be masters in de-educating potential customers, pointing out flaws and mistruths reported in online research and replacing these with informed, developed and data-backed arguments to support the sale. Your sales people should be trusted advisors, monitoring your social media channels to respond to feedback and questioning customers to figure out where their knowledge is faulty. If they can identify and understand the misconceptions and set the record straight, they’ll be in a much better position to sell your products and services.
Excellent written abilities
The modern age of information overload, where UK adults spend an average of 25 hours per week online, means it’s harder than ever to get through to customers in order to sell to them. While there are more channels in which to connect with your audience, the constant bombardment of advertising and marketing material on these channels means consumers are more likely to switch off from content that is poorly constructed or uninteresting.
This means a sales person’s written abilities need to be excellent. In order to cut through and stand out from competitors’ messaging, your team must master the written word and create communication that is clear, concise and creative. Whether it’s via email, blog posts and comments, LinkedIn updates, tweets or proposals, your written content is a direct reflection on your business, and therefore must be exceptional – and error-free! With the number of SMEs on the rise in the UK, many businesses may not have the capacity for a full-time marketing function. This means your sales people double as your marketers – and as such, their written word needs to reflect this.
A tech specialist
There is a plethora of sales tools now available to help your team engage prospects, find out contact information, forecast, report and improve efficiency. And with AI going from strength to strength – with 31% of organisations planning on using it in the next 12 months – the growth of sales tech is only set to continue. This will be a source of competitive advantage to those who can adapt to emerging technologies and trends and implement them in their sales processes.
According to LinkedIn’s State of Sales 2017 report, the use of sales tech is being adopted not just by millennials, but also more seasoned sales people. Technologies such as social networking sites, CRM tools and productivity apps are being used by 90% of sales professionals already to shorten sales cycles and close deals. When recruiting for new sales talent, look for those who use a multi-layered, technology-first approach that includes things like enterprise communications, collaboration tools and CRM.
The modern customer is more informed, more connected and more demanding, according to Deloitte, which means your sales conversations must match up. Not only do your sales people need to be able to have sophisticated, data-driven conversations with customers in order to de- and re-educate them on your organisation, but they also need to be able to maximise interactions, channels, tools and insights in order to generate more insightful data on your customers. This will be invaluable when it comes to sorting your engaged prospected from your failing accounts, and indeed identifying opportunities for cross- and up-selling. However, the age of analytics means that there is also more opportunity for sales people and managers to be measured on different elements – so be mindful that targets and KPIs may become multi-faceted.
Businesses are changing, with more and more teams collaborating to help target new customers, identify new products and grow the business. However, the competitive world of sales means that true teamwork can often fall by the wayside as sales people gun for their own personal targets and KPIs. Your sales team needs to have a strong relationship not just with each other, but also with the marketing function, customer service, technical support and product development. With 60% of sales professionals saying collaborative selling has increased productivity by more than 25%, it’s clear that teamwork is increasingly important to your future sales success.
Your high-tech sales people will have an advantage when it comes to working together, as they will likely already have mastered collaboration tools such as Box, Google Doc and Dropbox. Encourage everyone in your business to maxmimise these technologies to nurture a team that works harmoniously.
Find out more
When you’re looking for new sales people to add talent to your team, make sure you seek out these future sales skills. If you have a role that needs filling, we’d love to help. Contact us to start a conversation.
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