What makes a successful sales rep? Hint: it's not just about closing deals. As a sales leader, it is essential to have a team of stars, rather than relying on a few stars to carry your team. In today’s competitive landscape, you need reps who can wear many hats and excel at every aspect of sales. While training your team, instead of just looking at KPIs and outcomes you need to focus on several key process-based abilities your reps need to succeed.
This blog post will focus on those skills that are most critical in determining whether or not your sales reps are hitting their goals. For the first time ever, you can actually measure your reps’ performance on many of these metrics! Attention enables you to track things like engagement, listening, questions, etc, and calibrate your sales performance in real-time.
Confidence will get you a long way in sales, especially when it is tempered with awareness and good listening skills (see below). This is a key ‘enabling’ skill, because without it the others are much less effective. Always make sure your reps have confidence and the ability to project it during a call or a meeting.
There are many things you can do to help them cultivate this important trait, from helping them establish pre-call routines and rituals to giving positive feedback frequently. Often, confidence will come by itself as they acquire more experience and know how. But this is always something to look out for, even in the early stages of a rep’s training.
A good sales-person is self-motivated and able and willing to set their own goals. You want to look out for reps who are self-starters, who don’t just try to meet their training goals but seek to exceed them. Much of your team’s success will depend on its members’ willingness to push themselves and seek to go above and beyond.
One of the single most important traits to identify during training is a rep’s ambition (or lack thereof). Do they truly want to become a great salesperson? Are they just going through the motions of training or are they hungry for more knowledge and a better skillset?
Even a seemingly unpromising rep can go far if they have ambition and perseverance, that fire in the belly that drives them to do better. If we had to pick one item on this list to emphasize, this would probably be it.
As you already know, a major component of sales is asking the right questions to truly understand the prospect’s needs and problems. Is your rep an effective question-asker? Are they a naturally curious and perceptive individual? You can train and develop this ability through drills and role-play exercises. For example, you or another teammate can play a prospect with a unique issue. The rep has to keep asking questions until he figures out the ‘buyer’s’ problem and needs! You can get as creative as you want.
50% of communication is listening. So being an effective communicator also means knowing when to be quiet and pay attention! Many salespeople have a prepared pitch and a preconceived idea of how the call will proceed. So they just plow ahead, focused on what they plan to say, without really being in tune to the prospect.
Being an effective listener means being flexible and adaptable, being able to change the script in response to the prospect. It means really hearing the prospect rather than focusing on what you’re going to say next.
This ability is easy to test in a training setting. How good are your reps at following instructions? When you give them feedback, do they adjust quickly and fully grasp what you want from them? Do they nod along, respond, and ask questions? These are all signs of a good listener. You can also quiz them by asking them to explain what you just said in your own words.
Attention uses AI to track your junior reps’ performance during video calls. It can let you know in real-time if they are practicing active listening skills and engaging with the prospect!
A great salesperson is also an effective researcher. One of the keys of sales is simply knowing as much about your prospect and your product as you possibly can. Seek to get to know your prospect and their needs like the back of their hand before you speak to them. You also want to know enough about your product to answer questions from the most knowledgeable prospects. Having conviction and faith in your product, as well as the knowledge that no question will catch you off guard because you are so informed, will help generate the confidence you need to sell (see above).
This is a huge one. We all know sales is not for the faint of heart. Stress and pressure are the name of the game! So a good salesperson needs to perform well under pressure. This doesn’t mean that they never get stressed or nervous, but that they are able to handle their stress and deliver regardless. Pay attention to how your team members behave in high-pressure situations? Do they fall apart, lose their composure and quit? Or are they able to make themselves relax and push through the stress?
The days of hyper-competitive, cutthroat sales teams are behind us. In 2021, sales companies that succeed have collaborative, team-based cultures. A great sales rep can boost the energy and motivation of those around them through a combination of healthy, friendly competition and teamwork. Do your reps encourage each other and celebrate each other’s successes? Do they share their knowledge and experiences during training and become peer coaches?
As a manager you have to do all you can to encourage a collaborative attitude in your reps. This means creating bonding during training through group activities, and never pitting reps against each other.
Communication skills are invaluable, but ultimately they have to lead to a close. Remember Alec Baldwin’s (pretty despicable) character in Glengarry Glenn Ross? “Always. Be. Closing!” To be a complete salesperson, you need to be able to pull the trigger. Many reps are uncomfortable with closing, or don’t know how to transition to it smoothly. It is your job to make them familiar with the closing process through exercises and repetition until it becomes second nature, so that they can close seamlessly and effectively every time
As we’ve discussed in other articles, any rep, however green and unskilled, can quickly become a standout if they are coachable. Watch out for how your reps respond to feedback: do they internalize it and make changes fast? Do they consistently meet training goals? Are they a totally different and improved salesperson after a short time training? If so, you have yourself a coachable rep, who is worth their weight in gold.
A top-notch sales rep is a valuable asset to any company. Working hard to recognize and develop your talent can pay off in the long run when it comes to retaining staff, boosting morale, and securing good leads.
Give your sales reps the tools they need to succeed and develop their full potential! Try Attention now to accelerate your junior reps and develop their skills in no time.
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These five fundamentals can not only help you build better sales teams, but they will also give your reps the tools and knowledge they need to close more deals.