One thing that all sales managers have in common: you want a high performing sales team.
Meeting (and exceeding) monthly quotas. Maintaining a predictable pipeline. Substantially contributing to the growth of the company.
That all sounds amazing. So what’s the magic bullet that makes this happen?
Well, there isn’t one.
In fact, building a high-performing sales team is pretty boring, tedious work. It’s all about identifying the core competencies every rep needs, and drilling it into them until they master them.
This article will walk through nine of those core competencies to provide a solid foundation for your growing coaching program.
What Are Sales Competencies?
Sales competencies are the skills successful reps use to influence buying decisions. These can include time management, people skills, pipeline management, uncovering pain points, conversational excellence, and more.
By understanding how each of these competencies contribute to the rep’s success, both you and the rep can work to build them up over time.
Why is Sales Competency Important?
In short, a lack of sales competency can lead to shorter pipelines, a breakdown in communications with the prospect, and a bad reputation for the company. While your reps should be given the freedom to make mistakes, there’s no understating the negative impact of a bad rep.
On the other hand, however, when reps build up their sales competency, they’ll be able to have more productive conversations with prospects, build predictable pipelines, improve their win rates, better manage their time, and bring in more revenue.
9 Essential Sales Competencies Every Rep Needs
The list of essential sales competencies is long. However, we’ve narrowed it down to these nine skills that stand out as the most important.
1. Sales knowledge.
At the risk of stating the obvious, salespeople need to know how to sell. So when you hire inexperienced reps, this is one of the first things you’ll need to work with them on. Sales knowledge can include understanding the sales process, key terminology, and the specific methodology your organization uses.
2. Active listening.
Half the battle in sales is listening to the prospect, internalizing that information, and responding in a way that’s empathetic and provides value to them. It’s not a skill learned overnight, so you should make it a priority as soon as you bring new reps on board. If you don’t, you’ll have reps who talk past the prospect, which not only can upset them, but also negatively impact your organization’s reputation.
3. Product knowledge.
If your reps don’t know what they’re selling, there’s no way the prospect will know. And if the prospect doesn’t know what you’re selling, they won’t buy. Especially if you have a complex or technical product, it’s important for reps to gain as deep an understanding as possible. That way, they’ll be able to deftly handle prospect questions.
Great reps don’t wait for leads to come to them. Instead, they go out and get the leads. However, 42% of reps claim that prospecting is the hardest part of the process. Investing in your team’s prospecting abilities can help ensure that you always have leads at the top of the funnel.
5. Upselling and cross-selling.
Upselling and cross-selling new products can both be powerful ways to increase the value of both prospects and current customers without much more marginal effort.
6. Marketing and industry insight.
If you want your reps to demonstrate value, they have to know the market inside and out. They know the pain their prospects are feeling and exactly how to relieve it through your product. Industry education should be a key part of every sales rep’s development.
7. Technology expertise.
If you’re a SaaS company, or any modern business, technological expertise is essential. Reps should be able to schedule a Zoom call and place meetings on a Google Calendar without much hassle. On top of that, they should know how to log interactions in your CRM, record calls for your coaching intelligence platform, and leverage that platform so they’re always aware of their continual growth.
8. Time management.
Between emails, calling, prospect research, coaching sessions, demos, admin tasks, your reps have a lot on their plates. The best reps will know how to prioritize the most important tasks and watch how they spend their time like a hawk. After all, to the rep, time is (almost literally) money!
9. Willingness to learn.
Among our many requirements for new hires here at ExecVision, one of the most important is coachability. If a rep has no interest in improving their own performance, they’re not going to do it—no matter what incentives you put in place. The best reps are always willing to learn, to receive feedback, and to “pull back the hood” on their performance to find and fix problems. If your reps don’t have this, you won’t be able to build a high-performing team.
Final Thoughts: How to Develop Sales Competencies Among Your Team
Getting a handle on which core competencies your team needs is important. But if you want to move the needle, you need to coach your reps to improve those skills.
This involves establishing a dedicated coaching program, and getting all your reps to buy into it. Remember: they won’t improve if they don’t commit to it themselves. So you need to make it clear how mastering these competencies will make them better sales reps and improve their profitability (and commissions!).
Once you have buy-in, you need to start working with reps to make those improvements. The best approach is to start with one high-impact skill and attack that for several weeks or months. After they’ve mastered that, you can move onto the next one.
Finally, if you manage a large sales team, you’ll have a hard time if you don’t equip yourself with the tools needed to succeed. Coaching intelligence software will enable you to track rep performance and identify areas where they need to improve—without having to manually listen in on hundreds of calls.