In the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses across the globe hunkered down, cutting costs where they could and scrambling to stay afloat. It was quite the finale to the first quarter of 2020. But now, as we’re wading into Q4, something has changed. We haven’t eradicated COVID yet, and most of us aren’t back in our offices. But businesses have come out of that initial defense and stabilization mode, and they’re looking for ways to continue serving their customers, bringing in revenue, and building the momentum they’ll need to remain competitive when the economy rebounds.
Some businesses have pivoted their products and services to meet customers’ current needs. Some have reimagined their delivery models. Others are holding tight to their existing offerings and looking for new ways to engage with customers. But no matter the strategy, the foundation for success is the same: how effectively the sales team communicates with current and potential customers.
After all, no matter how innovative, revolutionary, or perfectly suited for the current moment a product or service may be, a rep who can’t communicate its value won’t be able to sell it. For sales reps who are poor communicators, closing deals is an overwhelming challenge, and the relationships they do manage to build remain purely transactional. But when reps are strong communicators, they can build a level of trust with prospects that leads to smooth sales, strong customer relationships, and buyers who become champions of the company. That means they’re closing more deals, meeting (or exceeding) quota, and setting the business up for long-term success through return business, word-of-mouth referrals, and more.
Turning Every Sales Rep into a Top Performer
So, what can leadership do to bring those struggling reps up to par? A brief Google search yields suggestions like offering remedial training on products and services, helping them develop thicker skin to get past the first “no,” and buying them books by Dale Carnegie and Stephen Covey. And while those ideas are all fine, they’re not enough. When it comes to identifying the specific communication skills that are making top sales reps successful — and then helping lower-performing reps develop the same skills, sales leaders are often left in limbo.
Let’s go back to those sales reps who’re struggling to close deals. Maybe they’re great assets to the team: they’re driven, they’re well-versed in both the product and the broader industry, and they’re endlessly optimistic. But they’re missing quota more often than not.
The problem is likely the way they’re communicating with their prospects, and it probably begins with an inability to listen carefully, identify the prospects’ needs, and then tailor their pitches to meet those needs. Even if the content is solid, the inability to effectively deliver it will impede a sales rep’s success. Quantified’s research has found, in fact, that effective communication is 35% content and knowledge and 65% delivery. Maybe the value propositions they’re emphasizing don’t solve the problems the potential buyers are expressing. Maybe they’re using data to make their case when they’d be better off leaning on storytelling. Maybe they’re speaking too quickly or loudly when a gentler tone would be more effective with buyers who are on the fence.
To bring the idea to life, here’s a concrete example of a mismatch between the salesperson’s perspective and the potential buyer’s (the perspective that actually counts): HubSpot research has found that only 17% of sales reps think they’re “pushy,” compared with 50% of buyers. If a rep thinks he’s “soft selling” but the buyer feels like she’s on the receiving end of a hard sell, then it’s the rep’s responsibility to recognize that and adjust his communication style accordingly.
This problem is exacerbated in some ways by the shift to video communication following the onset of the pandemic. After all, video communication comes with its own sets of challenges, and Objective Management Group has found that less than 10% of salespeople have the skills and strengths to perform effectively working from home. However, there’s a positive side, too, as sales reps who are accustomed to conducting most of their meetings by phone may have jumped on the video wagon for the first time: Zoom finds that using video increases close rates by 9%.
So what if these reps could be trained to develop the same skills that are empowering top reps to close deals both virtually and in person, including audience-centric communication, effective delivery skills, and awareness of the subconscious behaviors that can make or break a conversation?
When a sales representative can clearly and effectively show potential customers how the business’s products or services are going to solve their unique problems, that rep can close more deals, more quickly than a rep who struggles to communicate the value in a way that resonates with the prospect. So, when businesses invest in training their sales representatives to communicate effectively with prospects, the result will be dramatically increased sales.
Training the Number-One Skill for Sales Success
While communication skills have traditionally been considered more of an art or a natural talent, the Quantified platform applies science to this critical skill, empowering users to measure their abilities and track their growth over time, with hard data rather than feedback. For sales teams, this means allowing reps to benchmark their own communication abilities against top performers and empowering them to build the skills they need to build stronger customer relationships, close more deals, and significantly increase company revenue. (And all this is done online, from wherever your sales reps happen to be working, during or after the pandemic.)
To learn more about the powerful impact communication skills training can have across every facet of your organization, we invite you to download our complimentary white paper, The ROI of Investing in Communication Skills. And when you’re ready to talk about how Quantified can help your sales leaders, high performers, and new recruits become world-class communicators, request a demo, and one of our experts will be happy to walk you through our platform and process.