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Top 7 Inside Sales Skills Every Sales Rep Must Master
The best sales teams are a lot like great schools: They care about results, but the way they achieve them is by being relentless about developing the inside sales skills of their reps. In fact, the best sales teams are most often led by someone who is more like a sales coach than a sales manager.
We know how important this process is, though, so we boiled everything down to the 14 inside sales skills every sales rep must master.
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1. Product Knowledge
A sales rep who doesn’t perfectly understand the product they’re selling is a completely ineffective rep. Product training should be one of the very first things you teach new reps – they should be able to explain in detail how each product works, what business value it offers, and the reasons it appeals to your company’s ideal customers.
This will help ISRs (Inside Sales Reps) craft their sales pitch effectively, and ensure they highlight each product’s strongest features. Deep product knowledge is honestly one of the few things that separates the top 1% of reps from the rest
2. Strategic Prospecting Skills
Once ISRs have the product knowledge to sell, it’s time to do some prospecting. However, while many sales leaders have their quota-carrying reps also do early cold-calling, I actually don’t suggest for ISRs to do cold calling.
From a unit-economics perspective, it is obviously considerably more cost-effective to have your Sales Development Reps (SDRs) do cold calls, while your quota-carrying ISRs should be doing more sophisticated prospecting – what I call “strategic prospecting”. This means searching for referrals through existing connections to new prospects that fit the target buyer or ideal customer profile.
It’s also important for reps to go back to Closed-Lost opportunities with whom they already had previous conversations and try to revive them. Another strategic prospecting activity is to ask for referrals from existing customers, and even talk your investors (VCs) for referrals to their portfolio companies. All of this is fair game for the quota-carrying ISRs to do prospecting.
3. Rapport Building on the Call
ISR’s have a disadvantage over outside sales in that they’re not meeting with prospects face-to-face. This means they have to work harder to build a connection with busy and sometimes hostile strangers over the phone.
Some sales reps already have a natural ability to create an instant rapport with a prospect, and only have to finesse it. Other reps can learn to research prospects in advance and find common ground to empathize with the person on the other end of the line.
Whether you’re chatting about sports, attending the same college, or just the weather, rapport should not be underestimated.
4. Buyer-Seller Agreement
In order to set mutual expectations and to make your prospects more comfortable, sales reps should learn how to create a Buyer-Seller Agreement, (aka “Upfront Contracts” as Sandler Sales Training calls them), to set the tone for all calls and meetings. These are verbal agreements at the beginning of the sales process that outline expectations for both sides.
For example, a sales rep can ask a prospect, “Is it OK to ask a few questions about your business and then I will show you a demo of our product to see if there is a potential fit for both of us?” It allows the prospect to feel comfortable and understand what is coming next, so no one feels ambushed by the next step. It also allows the sales rep to open up a two-way street in the selling process so that both parties get to a win-win conclusion.
5. Active Listening
Most sales reps feel comfortable talking to prospects, but listening is another story. ISRs need to become proficient in active listening, or listening with a strict focus and asking intelligent follow-up questions.
People can usually tell if you’re really listening to them, rather than just thinking about what you’ll say next – and most people appreciate a good listener.
Great listening skills can help reps empathize with prospects to learn more about their business and pain points. With that knowledge, they can then sell more effectively and offer a better solution.
On the phone, the tone of voice, volume and pace of a sales rep’s speech are surprisingly important sales skills. In sales, how you say things to a prospect matters more than what you say. According to Sandler Sales Training, only 7% of communication relies on the content of what you say, whereas 38% of communication is about other attributes of communication such as tonality, etc.
As you may have heard before, it’s not what you say but how you say it. Reps should try to subtly mirror a prospect’s tone of voice and style of talking – if a prospect is more formal and polite, speak similarly; if they’re more informal and joke around, do the same.
This helps prospects feel familiar with you, and relate to you more easily to create rapport. Reps also need to speak clearly, not too quietly, and not in a monotone. You need to let your emotion and personality shine through, so that the person on the phone knows you’re a human, and is interested in talking to you.
Enable sales excellence by transforming your organisation and empowering your people to reach their full potential.
1 day Live or 8 hrs Virtual in 2 weeks (4hr/week) or 4 weeks (2hr/week)
Customer knowledge. Relationships skills.
Effective sales (incl. remotely)
Individual and group training
Energy Leadership + Personality Assessments + Debrief/Reports
Interactive Group Practice
Managing energy levels for self and others. Staying self-driven and resourceful. 7 levels of Energy
Increased engagement and motivation to sell. 6 energy Influencers
Leadership strengths and gaps
Removing barriers to success. Conquering the fear, eliminating blocks, shifting perceptions, questioning assumptions and interpretations
Building a motivated and inspired team
Seeing opportunities and target orientation
Customer acquisition and management
Business development skills
Team assessment, building and alignment
Energetic and dynamic communication (including Empathetic & Active listening)
Keys to effective sales and negotiations
High energy Relationships
Health and Wellness
Example: TO BE CONTINUTED
Energetic and dynamic communication
Energy in communication
As a leader and a sales person who communicated dynamically, you want to always be aware of your energy, move it up if necessary, assess your audience’s energy, match your message to the audience, and communicate in a way that helps shift your audience’s energy upwards so that you can create win-win opportunity for all.
It is ironic that while listening is so important, few people do it and fewer do it well.
Suspending judgment, letting down the filters, being in the moment with the ‘beginners’ mind helps to understand the perspective of the others, their concerns, ideas, needs. The leader or salesperson is excited what he/she is about to learn and knows that through truly listening they are operating at a higher level of energy and are creating success and opportunity.
By listening to your true self you raise the level of awareness, separating that voice from other voices which tell you ‘it can’t be done’ or ‘ you are not good enough’. Then you eliminate the lesser energy voices and tap into your greatest potential.
Obstacles of effective listening
Words, situations, preconceived notions (limiting believes, assumptions, interpretations), certain people, physical stress, excitement, lack of trust (mostly in ourselves), fears…
3 levels of Effective listening:
Public speaking and presentations
Impact of your message: It is not what you say, it is hwo you say it.
Percentage of Impact upon the Audience: Words 7%, Voice 38%, Body Language/Presentation: 55%. Energy, voice and delivery are inter-related. Shifting your energy can change your voice and delivery, lead to more energetic voice and relaxed posture.
Successful leaders and sales people are less concerned about what to say to get what they want, but more about how they can ‘be’ in order to embody a message that inspired others to accomplish the necessary. In order to connect successfully with those around or on the other side of the phone a leader needs to be fully engaged at the higher possible level with his/her role, task, and message.
Energy attracts like energy. It can attract or repel people and situations. Higher anabolic leader (see more) attracts other highly anabolic team members, people, situations, results. Based on the energy level more or less deals are being won, projects executed, tasks done.
More you recognise where the person in front of you is and able to shift them to a higher level, the more interested the will be in working with you. You can do this by helping create a buy-in for them on all levels, to what you what them to do. This is most important when selling your products and services, or negotiating on your or their behalf.
Skills, beliefs, thoughts, and fears all effect your ability to persuade, respond tp objections, and arrive at a final course of action. When you are clear, without catabolic beliefs and fears (see more), you will more easily attract and connect with your desired clients and motivate them to buy your products and services.
Engaging in the sales and negotiations process
The sales and negotiations process is important whether selling a products, service, idea; rallying your staff or others to a common vision; or helping and encouraging some one to take action toward a goal.
The Energetic Sales Cycle depicts a simple process you can use to ensure the best chance for engagement, buy-in, and results. Success of the below process is greatly influenced by your level of engagement, which in return is influenced by your level of energy (anabolic or catabolic – 7 Levels of Energy – See more)
6. Close the sale
5. Ask for Conditional Commitment
4. Ask key Empowering Questions
3. Quality Opportunity
2. Probe Inquiry
Keys to Effective Sales and Negotiations. To succeed it is important to have high engagement, ability, comfort level, and level of energy with each of the below items.
Price and other monetary considerations
References, credibility, experience