3 Ways to Improve Your Selling Skills

Posted on 01/21/2014 in Selling Skills

Sales training works well but is not necessarily the only solution, or the best solution, for all sales professionals.  Here are three other ways that you can improve your selling skills.
 

1.      Find a great coach or two.  When I first started my sales career in business-to-business sales after graduating from college, I was fortunate enough to work for a sales manager who coached and encouraged me on how to improve and develop my selling skills.  The key word is "fortunate” because not every sales manager is skilled at coaching or knows how to coach effectively.
 

A great coach strikes a balance between telling you how to sell and asking you questions so that you can think about the best way to handle various sales challenges.  For example, suppose that you are new to sales and are having trouble responding to common objections such as "I’m happy with my current provider.”  If your manager tells you how he/she would respond to this, you’ve learned one way to respond to the objection, but not necessarily the best method for you. It is better if your manager asks you thought-provoking questions such as "What other ways could you have responded?”  This will help you learn several ways to handle objections, and even better, it well help you think more independently and strategically as a salesperson.

 

Many sales professionals choose to hire a professional sales coach.  No matter how experienced you are in your profession, you should always have at least one good coach to help you navigate your path to achieving your goals.
 

2.      Take Advantage of Internet Resources.  The internet offers a vast universe of resources. Hone in on what will work best for your professional and skill level and you’ll find tremendous resources to connect and stay abreast in your industry, as well as among competition and customers.

 

LinkedIn is not just about professionals connecting and finding jobs.  One very important feature is the LinkedIn Discussion Group.  Look for a discussion group related to your industry to learn about your competition, customers, and prospects. You can even start your own discussion group if there isn’t one that fits the bill. 

 

Blogs and free online training are prolific and available in every topic and skill level! For example, our Essential Selling Skills online training is designed for newer salespeople and our Key Account Management online training is designed for more senior sales professionals who call on larger, more complex accounts. Both sessions are free and since they are pre-recorded can be "attended” at any time and location.
 

3.      Utilize deliberate planning and self-critique to gain from your on-the-job selling experience.  Top performers in every field are known for their constant search for excellence.  They are top performers because they continuously set goals and work hard to develop their skills and capabilities.  They use deliberate planning and methodic practice to excel at what they do. 

 

It is no different for top sales professionals.  Use each and every sales call as a way to improve your skills.  When a sales call is over, ask yourself questions such as these: What went well?  What could I have done differently?  Take notes to help commit the analysis to action. 

Then, apply your learnings and observations to upcoming sales calls.  Purposely keep using what worked well until it becomes a natural habit. If something didn’t go well on a particular sales call and you feel that you could have done something differently, then consciously try a different approach when you encounter that same type of sales situation.

 

Don’t overlook the opportunity to improve your pre-call planning. What works best for you when preparing for a sales call?  For example, have you set a clear and measurable sales call objective?  What action do you want the customer to take? Have you anticipated likely objections and prepared an effective response?

 

We realize that you cannot, and should not, plan every word of an entire sales call but don’t use this as a reason to not do any planning. Find what works best for you and then apply your own planning process to future sales calls.  

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