The most successful sales leaders and reps are nimble—they embrace the abundance of changes that come their way. From the evolution of buyers to transformations in technology, the sales industry has experienced more changes in the last ten years than in the past 100.
In order to adapt to—and thrive in—the accelerating speed of business, sales reps need to shift their prospect focus from quantity and efficiency to quality and connection. With the help of an experienced crew of sales leaders, practitioners, and trainers, we’ve identified nine qualities that modern sales reps need to soar.
As buyers continue to evolve and expect more personalized solutions from the products they purchase, what works for one customer will not work for every customer. Sales reps must work hard understand each customer’s unique situation, company culture, goals, and approach to decision-making. Adapting the sales strategy to match these priorities will increase the chance of closing the deal.
“Sales reps need to understand how the sales process changes across various organizations. They’ll need to quickly adapt to the ever-changing conditions that are taking place.”—Marko Savic, CEO and Co-founder, FunnelCake
One leading indicator of a talented sales rep is buyer-obsession. When sales reps learn everything they possibly can about the buyer, and employ this information in their selling approach, they competitively differentiate themselves and their product from competitors. A heartfelt desire to help the prospect solve their problem—as opposed to just meet a quota—goes a long way. Customers are far more likely to align with sales reps who ask questions, understand their goals, and work to deliver the right solution.
“Nobody wants to be a target in your database, nobody wants to be prospected with call, email, call, email, call, email. So a salesperson who wants succeed needs to do research on her buyer. What is my buyer trying to achieve? What is their current situation? We need to be customer-centric. We need to be customer-obsessed. We need to always look at things through the eyes of our customer.”—Jill Rowley, Chief Growth Advisor, Marketo
Committed to learning
As noted above, the best sales reps commit to learn as much about their prospects and buyers as possible. Reps with a bias toward learning are also eager to advance and perfect their skills with hands-on training, coaching, and practice—in order to become the best sales rep possible.
“Sales reps need to be coachable—willing to learn new things and improve every day. We have to always look at what we’re doing and shift and morph it a little bit…Really listen to what your buyer is saying and don’t just assume that you know what their problem is. Uncover the issues and learn what their customers’ challenges are. If you know your buyer customers’ challenges, boy, you can well you can really help your buyer.”— Lori Richardson, CEO and Founder, Score More Sales
As sales reps learn more about their customers, it’s also important to know how to truly connect with different people in each organization. While networking, cold calling, and closing a deal are essential skills, sales reps will be most successful when they establish a connection and relationship with their prospects.
“The most important ingredient in sales success is the ability to connect with people. You can’t close sales until you open relationships. No enablement tool can replace the human-to-human factor. Sales trainers and sales enablement specialists should focus on helping sellers build “soft skills” that engage, inspire and enable buyers.”—Deb Calvert, President, People First Productivity Solutions
Curious sales reps aren’t afraid to question old tactics, which helps them continuously optimize their practices, messaging, and habits. Additionally, inquisitive reps are more likely to identify their customers’ goals and the past path to achieve them.
“The idea that you’re going to be ultimately prepped before every call, or demo, or trial, is impossible for a sales rep to achieve. So the rep has to become a far better listener and far more curious when talking to customers because their opportunity to qualify has shrunk.” — Jeff Hoffman, Sales educator, speaker, and author
The increase in technology also presents sales teams with a variety of data. High-performing sales reps understand the data and share it with customers in a way that helps them see why and how a product or service is beneficial.
“We are drowning in data and this will not change. Sales reps need to be able to analyze data and present it in a way that makes the customer understand how you can help them by telling good stories they can back up with data.”—Olivier L’Abbe, VP of Sales, G2 Crowd
While technology has radically increased the quality of available data and provided opportunities to use it in the sales process, that doesn’t mean that sales should be less personal. Technology makes it easy to connect with prospects, but sales reps still need to build relationships through genuine interest, trustworthiness, and thoughtfulness to make the sale.
“Reps must be wary of the noise created by new technology and rise above it. The best way to do that is by earning trust through empathy, sincerity, and honesty to serve customers with a human sales experience.”—Kyle Porter, CEO, SalesLoft
The sales industry is fast-paced and competitive. The vast majority of a sales reps’ interactions will end with rejection. Resilient sales reps quickly rebound after being turned down, learn from their mistakes, and welcome the next opportunity to change the outcome.
“It’s essential to be able to rebound from defeat and disappointment. Sales tends to be a roller coaster and it’s important to transform and learn from negative experiences and turn them into long-term, positive outcomes.”—Michael Manne, VP of Sales, Namely
Quality over quantity
The best reps pay attention to the little things—and these details can make or break a sale. Every piece of communication and information should be tailored and personalized to each prospect for maximum impact. Customized outreach is significantly more likely to deliver results—and elevates the role of a sales rep from copy and paste guru to a thoughtful connector.
“I hear reps saying all the time, “Well, I sent 300 emails.” Okay, well, were those emails personalized? Were they customized? We don’t want the spray and pray model. For reps to be successful, they have to listen and tie information into the prospect’s pain points. It’s not about you, the rep. It’s not about the number of times you call someone.—Michelle Pietsch, Senior Director of Sales, Drift
Launch sales performance with Lessonly
There’s no better time than today to prepare for the future of sales. In addition to equipping reps with these skills, sales leaders should consider oncoming trends, innovations, and processes to enable reps and improve their team’s performance—before the disruption happens. In that spirit, we’ve put together The Future of Sales: Insights for the Best Sales Teams in the Galaxy. This ebook features expert advice from sales leaders and trainers that will launch your team to success.