What's important for sales representatives in today's markets?
In doing a lot of the core work around sales and conversion, sales representatives have specific job duties and responsibilities that support the business.
Here are some good habits that can help sales representatives succeed in a competitive field, as well as with competitive decision-making and sales strategy every day.
What Are the Common Responsibilities of Sales Representatives?
The entire job of salespeople is to sell products and services.
To do that effectively, they need solid arguments and sound research. So some of the top responsibilities of sales representatives involve knowing the product, knowing the customer, and knowing the market well.
They must also be effective in outreach, have good communication skills, and be competent with relevant technologies.
From understanding the disruptive impact of automation in specific sectors to having a knack for navigating sales conversations with potential customers or referrals from LinkedIn, having a deep technical competency and a thorough track record of excellence in customer experience is critical.
In addition, sales representatives have to be able to reach out to potential leads, qualified leads, or developing customers. They may need to travel for work regularly or teleconference routinely to make those connections and close more deals.
Throughout a successful sales cycle and buying process, they often take the initiative, building relationships with customers and customer offices.
In addition, they should be able to track the sales process with cost-benefit analysis and analysis of past sales numbers to figure out how they are doing as brand ambassadors over a given time frame and at closing sales for an employer.
What Are the Most Important Sales Representative Skills?
For all of the above needs, one of the top skills for a sales representative is communication. The best salespeople communicate very well face-to-face but also excel at communicating in writing (for example, in a letter or email). They may use these skills and sales techniques in a multipoint deal-making process.
Great salespeople should be good active listeners and adept at understanding what customers need and how to read them.
Sales reps should also be problem-solvers who understand how to overcome hurdles or obstacles to their goal — conversions and sales. This can be useful for tasks like cold calling or deciding how to approach conversion.
They should also be able to use new software and technologies that help them to become more competent at their jobs. Many of these technologies are cloud-based tools that salespeople can use on the go from wherever they are, whether in the office, in transit, or at a customer's location on a sales call.
How Can You Improve Your Sales Skills?
How do salespeople get better at what they do? These helpful sales tips can help springboard a sales professional’s career.
1. Know Your Product
It helps to know your products backward and forward in the sales world, building a knowledge base you can draw on to succeed in sales. If you're selling a medical device, knowing more about how it improves patient care is valuable.
Understanding product lines is paramount if you're selling at an organization focused on multiple specialties.
2. Know Your Buyer and Create Relationships
Some of the responsibilities mentioned above involve developing relationships with customers and clients.
In this aspect of the job, customer relationship management software and lead generation tools can be helpful. Salespeople who know their technologies can use the information in these business systems to become better at building those relationships based on solid customer data.
3. Believe in Your Product
The best sales representatives also have the ability to be passionate about products and services. As they communicate, they influence others, enhancing the brand by showing their steadfast belief in the company's value.
4. Use Data Objectively and Proactively
We are in the big data age, and no field is more data-driven than sales.
Using data involves aggregating that data, identifying insights, and targeting results. To use the data, you have to be able to find the correct data and interpret it well. That's where a wide range of business software is integral.
The salespeople have to know part of identifying business intelligence from large raw data systems, whether in a data warehouse or some other type of architecture. Software like AcuityMD makes this much easier.
5. Find a Successful Strategy and Stick to It
For some sales professionals, this is the ‘secret sauce’ of their ability to drive conversion. This is part of the sales process where you might say it's more of an art than a science – although data can also support strategies.
Simply speaking, salespeople will see what works over time. They can build a more consistent process with a better chance of success every time they roll the dice.
6. Do Your Research Beforehand
This goes back to the idea of knowing the product and knowing the customer. Both of these goals take their own research and analysis.
Again, big data tools can help deliver easy-to-use dashboards and digestible reports that provide insights directly to the salespeople. The better they know how to interpret these, the better they will do in the sales world.
7. Listen to Your Customer
In saying that salespeople need to be active listeners, this is the fundamental idea – that they are listening for clues as to what the customer wants and needs every step of the way through the deal pipeline or funnel.
As salespeople listen to prospects, they can identify their pain points and desires. Then they can market to those. Fitting the solution to the need is often a big part of dealmaking and conversion.
After someone has converted into becoming a customer, salespeople can keep listening. They'll understand how to maintain those relationships long-term and how to build satisfaction for those who have already bought the company's products and services.
8. Solve, Don't Sell
Again, this best practice will be served by knowing the customer's pain points.
Experienced salespeople might explain it this way – instead of trying to get people to buy what you have, show them how what you have solves their particular problems.
This is easier to do with versatile products that have different features for different customer needs. But the best salespeople know how to approach this intuitively.
9. Focus on the Customer, Not the Close
This is another good way to frame the deal-making process.
In a sense, salespeople need to be people-oriented. Their knowledge base and data-driven approach are good for building a more consistent path toward success. But ignoring the human element of sales is not recommended.
In that sense, the sales representative will try to understand the person they are talking to. Active listening plays a big role in this process.
Among professionals, there's a common consensus that focusing too hard on closing a deal can be detrimental. Ironically, when you relax on the deal closing and focus on the person, you may be more likely to achieve the desired result.
10. Practice, Practice, Practice
As with most things, practice can help improve a sales presentation. Salespeople can look at essential aspects like:
- Replacing unnecessary information or language with more engaging content
- Making the presentation relatable
- Focusing on customer needs
All of this can make the presentation much more effective.
One part of sales practice is trying to build a better presentation. That involves having the right people skills to understand what works and what doesn't. That applies to one-on-one situations and group situations, too.
One relevant principle here is engagement. If the salesperson talks all the time in a one-on-one meeting, and the customer isn't talking, that will often become a problem. So the salesperson must apply listening principles and better people skills to keep a deal viable.
Here's where people talk about honing your elevator pitch in developing a short presentation that's appealing and engaging to an audience.
The audience has to understand what's being said immediately. The audience must be able to engage with what the salesperson is presenting.
So as the sales representative actively practices giving the presentation, they're improving it and changing it according to what's most likely to support them in front of the audience.
11. Shadow Successful Peers
Many would say there's no better way to learn something than to watch a skilled professional do it.
That can be applicable in sales as well. As an apprenticeship process, shadowing gives salespeople more of a real-life view of how the job works.
They can take all kinds of tips from more seasoned sales professionals that apply to everything mentioned above, from people skills to technology and beyond.
12. Be a Team Player
In basketball, it's better to pass the ball back and forth on the way to the basket than for one person to simply charge down the field.
That same principle holds in sales. Building collaborative processes is generally better than going it alone. That means that the sales representative may be getting active assistance from people in customer service and support departments, or people higher up on the business food chain.
The more interaction and collaborative work that a company has, the better its people can succeed.
13. Go Above and Beyond
Here's where sales blend into customer service and support.
The company might have a different department for helping customers with their needs.
But when the salesperson shows up to handle some of this ongoing business, they provide extra value and show that to the customer. And that goes a long way with many customers, who will likely develop a better impression of the business.
Following up on an initial point of contact is vital in sales.
But there are different ways to do this. Elements of a multitouch deal-making process include:
- Phone calls
- Forwarding of information resources
- Social media engagement
- Live chat
- Public events
- Face-to-face meetings
It's up to the sales representatives and other stakeholders to figure out how to fit these together. For example, a complex lead nurture campaign may be developed over email, but other touch points may also apply and feed into that big picture.
15. Find Your Personal Motivation
As with the passion mentioned early on, finding motivation helps. Some of the best managers try to inspire sales teams to succeed. But sales professionals can also get their inspiration from within themselves.
Take a minute or two to think about what inspires you to sell your product. Is it the product itself, the thrill of the sale, or something else? Identifying your motivation can help you keep it alive even during dry spells.
16. Don't Take Rejection Personally
One of the biggest pitfalls in the sales world is becoming discouraged and demoralized by rejection or negative customer feedback.
In many cases, customers just feel like they don't need what is being offered. Or they might have other reasons for declining. It's rarely a personal reaction to the sales representative.
But it's easy for some types of personalities to see a customer’s pushback as personal, and that can harm that person's career. It's essential to move the ball forward when possible and cheerfully and calmly move on when a deal is not in the making.
Certain kinds of follow-up can come later, but immediate personal responses can be damaging.
17. Find Your Balance
It's an art, a science, a dance between people and technologies, and an ongoing organic process. Finding the balance involves looking at all these components and making tough decisions about fine-tuning your sales process.
18. Take Breaks
Nobody can be that good at something when they're going 24/7.
Salespeople, in particular, tend to get burned out when they work too hard. It’s important to remember to pace yourself in a sales role to ensure you get better, not worse, as time passes.
The Bottom Line
Being a sales representative can be a taxing job, but if you have the right habits, it can also be incredibly rewarding. These habits can include focusing on the customer, being a team player, and taking breaks when you need them.
These are some of the best sales tips for supporting a long-term career in this challenging field. New technology can also help. If you’re interested in how next-gen lead generation software can apply to a modern sales process, check out AcuityMD today.