How to Get Better at Sales: A Complete Guide
There’s a longstanding joke that goes, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” and the answer is simply: practice. The same concept can be applied to getting better at sales. Sales methods have evolved over time from cold calling and in-person sales pitches to virtual demos and social media connections.
While all methods have a part to play in any organization, to learn how to get better at sales, takes time, commitment, and consistency. To nurture skills and help teams grow and succeed, this guide outlines straightforward ways to excel.
Cultivate a culture that focuses on education and research throughout the organization. Each team member should be well-versed in the products and services offered. Look at it from a seller’s perspective, but also from the potential buyer’s perspective, too. Consider questions like:
- How does your company solve problems for your customers?
- In what ways do you excel compared to your competitors?
- How is your product/service valuable now, and how will it be necessary in the future?
The more you know about the product, the easier it will be to share the benefits and address any concerns customers may have about it.
Take time to read through customer feedback and learn about any developments in place to address these. Starting from the time you’re onboarded, absorb as much information as possible and keep notes on the most pertinent details as you continue to expand your knowledge.
As you’re learning, ask questions. Selling isn’t only about the sales pitch. Ask questions to your sales managers, product teams, and any other part of the organization that shows you the value of the product or service you’re selling. Ask questions of the customers you’re connecting with as well. Identify what their needs and goals are.
Part of being a successful salesperson is being wholly invested in the people you’re working with, which requires a give-and-take relationship. Give customers time and space to tell you exactly what they need to help their own companies succeed. After listening and planning, then take action steps to put a strategic plan in place.
Getting better at sales means having the ability to anticipate growth among your customers and within their industry at large. Focus on what they need at the moment, and also research and stay up-to-date with changes in their environment that may change what they may also need in the future.
Each sales rep should constantly follow industry news and trends as well as company announcements. Doing so will allow them to better anticipate a new opportunity and determine if it makes the most sense given the current trends and circumstances.
Cultivate Good Habits
Positivity and perseverance are two of the top qualities to have if you want to know how to become a better salesperson. Follow a healthy routine both at work and at home. It starts with the basics of getting good sleep and following a healthy diet and exercise regimen. It extends into nurturing camaraderie among your peers, prioritizing tasks, and delegating tasks as needed.
Healthy habits support a strong mindset, which makes a huge difference when calculating wins versus losses. For every “no” you receive, reflect on the why of the response. A “no” now could be due to timing, budget, and goals of the customers you’re trying to reach. Set aside time to leave notes on all the prospects and plan to reach out at a future date if the situation calls for it. Getting better at sales involves turning temporary setbacks into positive advances.
Be Open to Feedback
Feedback is one of the crucial components of how to get better at sales. This feedback can come from customers, team members, and sales managers. Review the comments you’re receiving and ask for guidance on areas where you can improve. Being open to constructive criticism allows you to view things from different perspectives, which can help you get out of a rut or try a new sales technique.
It goes back to the need for practice. Even the most winning teams always take time to review areas where they can do better next time and practice the methods that are proven to succeed. In sales, you’re dealing with different personalities and challenges from quarter to quarter that represent the current state of the industry. If you’re looking for advice on how to build a sales team that is impactful, remember that reflection and planning are part of the process to grow and excel.
Sales training is essential as you grow in your individual sales role as organizations grow as well. It’s a direct action to the feedback received, which allows an opportunity to implement new sales techniques.
Companies’ needs are shifting all the time, which means the sales strategy must adapt to these changes, too. For example, many companies are switching from relying on in-person presentations to online demos and webinars to help them better understand product and service benefits. This may require a shift in your skillset to accommodate how a potential customer best receives information.
Group training and workshops are valuable for larger concept applications, but one-to-one coaching or ongoing education can be helpful on a more personalized level. Tailor your sales training techniques to what you and your sales team would benefit from the most.
Create Purposeful Relationships
Sales is about data-driven goals, but behind the data is the ability to create purposeful relationships with customers. This is achieved through learning, listening, and considering a customer’s pain points, and offering the right solutions that will help them fix it.
A purposeful customer relationship also requires consistent communication and dependability. Being on time for meetings, hitting deadlines, and creating informative proposals instills trust and confidence in customers. They know they can rely on you to handle what they need, no matter how big or small the matter is, which in turn helps with customer loyalty and retention.
Set Measurable Goals
Part of tracking progress is establishing measurable goals. Take the approach of: learn, practice, execute, and evaluate. For example, if you want to increase your confidence when presenting, take part in training focused specifically on this skill. Practice with your peers and with presentation software to become more comfortable navigating programs online. Then, generate peer feedback to address areas where you’ve improved. Examples of measurable sales goals may include:
- How many connections have you made in the past month?
- How many meetings with prospects have you set?
- By what percentage do you want to increase your customer retention rate?
- What new sales skills or training do you want to complete?
Goal-setting tracks progress and encourages accountability. Rather than only saying you want to know how to get better at sales, you’re taking actionable measures to advance.
Sales can feel like a solitary mission, but working together as a team makes the experience more impactful as another learning opportunity. Schedule regular collaboration sessions to share feedback about progress and methods that have worked for others. Turn to your sales manager or mentor to discuss specific hurdles you’re facing and brainstorm about possible solutions.
Sometimes throwing ideas off each other can help you identify their strong points and weaknesses and fine-tune them before they’re communicated to a potential customer. Although you may have similar experiences as your team members, each sales rep has their own unique perspective to share, which can help you grow in your own role.
Avoid complacency by staying curious about your industry. Set aside time for reading and research on the latest news and projected changes. Ask questions like:
- What new developments are on the horizon?
- How will technology and world events shift what’s necessary to your customers?
- Are there untapped audiences to pursue that have largely gone unnoticed in the past?
Sales tactics may seem straightforward, but there’s a broader scope of the social landscape to consider. As the world has progressed from analog and digital to virtual, the core needs of customers may stay the same, but how they’re met is likely to change.
Of all the steps you can follow to learn how to get better at sales, the one thing to keep in mind is to start doing. You must have the drive to take action and put a plan into place. Turn to the resources available to you that will help you expand your skills, gain experience, and thrive under the changing environment of being a salesperson. As long as you’re dedicated to taking action, you’ll always be investing in yourself and learning how to become a better salesperson.
As experts at Janek, we are fully equipped to take your sales strategy to the next level. We are here as a partner for you in the event that you experience a sales challenge, want to discuss training or coaching for your team, or are in need of a sales strategist to grow your services.
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