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The sales world is getting harder every year. In 2022, 59% of competitive intelligence leaders agreed that their industry has become much more competitive.
The only way to stay ahead is to improve your sales skills and get better at what you do. Research shows that filling the pipeline was the top priority in B2B sales for 48.8% of sales and marketing leaders. Learning how to find more prospects — and then close those leads — is key.
Today I’ll discuss six strategies you can use to improve your sales skills, drive more deals, and get even more results.
Related: Take Your Sales Skills to the Next Level with These 5 Easy Steps
1. Be an Industry Expert
All sales are based primarily on trust, and industry expertise is one of the best ways to instill that trust. Sharing your insights can help you become known as a thought leader and help bridge the trust gap with your prospects.
Expanding across more channels can also help you sell in today’s connected world. Research shows that today’s B2B buyers use ten channels to communicate with suppliers – double the number used five years ago. Sharing your knowledge can attract prospects through those channels.
And knowing more about your industry and market makes it even easier to sense what your prospects are thinking, respond to objections, and close the sale. One of the best ways to show your industry expertise is to do what you preach. For example, I’m known as an expert in PR and SEO – mostly because I’ve used the same techniques I learn to grow my business and help clients.
2. Improve your prospecting
Prospecting is not a numbers game. Or rather, it isn’t only a numbers game. Of course, you need to reach enough potential customers, but it starts with understanding who is most likely to respond. Four in ten sales professionals say they lose prospects because they don’t have enough personalized information about them. So one of the first ways to improve prospecting is to do better research.
Research which specific pain points best apply to the prospect. You probably already know the most common issues your leads face, and some background information can help you align these issues with what you see in your prospect’s business.
There is also another area to consider. Most salespeople know to look for company information, but personal information can also be a big help. Look for personal interests that align with yours. We tend to like people who are similar to us, so finding these similarities can be a huge help.
3. Refresh Your Qualification Process
Once you’ve done the work of finding someone qualified, it can be hard to let them go. But quality is more important than quantity, and the more prospects you can eliminate during the qualification process, the better. It means you can spend more of your time and attention on the people most likely to buy.
So qualify early in the sales process and be as strict as possible. Once you know a prospect won’t buy, move on. The longer you wait, the more time you waste on unqualified prospects.
One of the best ways to filter prospects faster is to improve the questions you (or your team) ask during the qualification process. Think about questions like:
What solutions have you already tried?
Why do you want to solve this problem now?
What happens if you don’t take action on the issue right now?
What could be stopping your company/team/department from moving forward?
Related: 7 Essential Skills All Sales Superstars In Today’s Market Have
4. Use the right tools
The right tools can help you save time and money, close more sales, and build sales skills along the way. Research shows that 39% of sales professionals spend too much time working across technologies, so tools that reduce workload are best.
First, I recommend software to reduce friction and help you get in touch at the right time. A call at the right time can make or break the sale, so it’s smart to automate this process rather than keep it in your head. A technology platform like a CRM can help you stay organized, consistently track and land sales.
The second is a voice-over internet protocol (VoIP) system. By definition, VoIP uses the cloud instead of analog wiring, meaning you can make calls from anywhere. You can also track call details, view statistics and more. If you’re still using a landline to reach prospects, it’s time to move on.
And for an even smarter boost, make sure to personalize your information as much as possible when setting up demos or conversations with your potential customers. For example, you can set up a virtual phone number, which allows you to match the area code you are calling from to match the area code of your potential customers.
5. Assess sales calls to find weaknesses
I just mentioned using a VoIP system for calls, and there is a hidden benefit: you can easily view recorded calls and find your own strengths and weaknesses.
Listening back to your old sales conversations isn’t fun for anyone, but it’s one of the best ways to improve. You can pinpoint areas where you excel and look for responses that haven’t landed so well or areas where you can improve.
Regularly, like every week, take the time to review a few of your sales calls and look for ways to improve. Prepare better, more compelling ways to engage with prospects. Then see how well those methods worked in your next assessment session. As with A/B testing, this continuous improvement will help you find the best way to convince prospects and close more deals.
6. Build skills with role-playing
One last skill to add to your toolbox is role-playing. Once you spot a weakness in your sales calls, the best way to change the habit is to practice over and over.
You can role-play the type of conversation you want to improve with a colleague, colleague, or friend. Explain the scenario to them and even give them a basic script if necessary, complete with common objections.
I recommend recording your role-playing conversation and going all the way through without interruptions as if it were a real sales pitch. Then listen back and look for areas where you want to improve — before making the changes on calls with real sales on the line.
Related: 5 Tips To Master The Art Of Selling And Move Your Business Ahead
Sales skills are more important than ever. Fortunately, the tools available to improve those skills are even easier to find and constantly improve on. With a little technology and a desire to improve, you can study your sales skills and grow tremendously. That’s all it takes to move forward and deliver even more in your sales function.