How to Build an Effective Sales Team

Update Your Sales Talent Recruiting Processes

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In post-pandemic times, filling open job positions has proven to be a challenge for organizations in all industries. To build a top-notch sales team, traditional recruiting, training, and coaching may not be sufficient. You need to attract the right candidates and provide them with opportunities to grow professionally and succeed.

Gartner, for example, explains that “To build the workforce you’ll need post-pandemic, focus less on roles — which group unrelated skills — than on the skills needed to drive the organization’s competitive advantage and the workflows that fuel that advantage. Encourage employees to develop critical skills that potentially open up multiple opportunities for their career development, rather than preparing for a specific next role. Offer greater career development support to employees in critical roles who lack critical skills.”

If you can provide a sales environment that will enable candidates to improve their performance continuously, you will have a competitive advantage over other companies. Top candidates and employees are generally uncomfortable with micromanagement, especially now when they have more freedom to work from anywhere.

But micromanaging is often misunderstood. It’s not the manager who constantly watches their employees’ actions and tells them what to do. Gallup defines micromanagement this way: “Today’s micromanager is likely someone who wants it done exactly their way but provides little context, support, help or advice.”

Employees need transparency and guidance. Offering them a development program that supports their efforts, identifies their strengths and weaknesses, and coaches them up so they can succeed is not only a powerful professional growth tool, but it can help attract and retain salespeople who are success-driven. Even better, give them a platform that they can utilize to prioritize, measure and improve their skills on their own time versus scheduled training sessions that can be inconvenient and impersonal.

When you have the right tools, such as artificial intelligence (AI)-based coaching solution, your sales team will have the autonomy to manage training programs by themselves, with sales coaches, trainers, and managers supporting them. Already-skilled reps will be able to pinpoint where behaviors they still have opportunities to improve and stay on top of their progress and achievement path.

With technology and an enhanced recruitment process, you can truly act as a sales manager by coaching, mentoring, motivating, and monitoring your team. You can also free up valuable hours for more strategic tasks in these difficult times.

The 10 Skills to Look for and Develop in Top Sales Representatives

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There is a growing need for virtual and remote sales interactions, and it does not appear there will be a return to the old ways. As a result, all job profiles for highly effective sales teams must be updated. To be successful, people have to combine old skills with more modern capabilities that will make them more empathic and better connect with their counterparts over video.

To find and retain the best reps, you or your human resources team should consider the following 10 skills.

1) Active listening

According to The Balance Careers, "Active listening is the process by which an individual secures information from another individual or group. It involves paying attention to the conversation, not interrupting, and taking the time to understand what the speaker is discussing. The active element involves taking steps to draw out details that might not otherwise be shared."

Listening skills are crucial for sales representatives to maintain client relationships, yet they can be challenged on virtual calls where natural conversation queues aren’t as obvious. To be an active listener, a seller should focus on the moment, understand the buyer's point of view, and know when to speak and when to listen. This skill is particularly relevant for video interactions because the salesperson can ensure their prospect feels understood in their needs and requirements.

2) Communication skills

Building meaningful relationships goes far beyond having effective sales conversations with clients. It includes your sales reps' ability to communicate effectively with customers and prospects, identify their pain points and needs, and discuss the problems they face with empathy, knowledge and confidence.

In order to communicate effectively via email, social media, videoconference, or in-person, your reps must demonstrate excellent writing and verbal presentation skills. Additionally, salespeople need flexible communication skills that can adapt to the different phases of the sales cycle, from prospecting to follow-up.

You can use AI-supported technology to assess whether your candidates and current representatives are skilled at communicating value. For example, an automated analysis platform can assist in determining which words, gestures, and emotions are appropriate for sharing your product's value and generating a positive reaction from the customer.

3) Demonstration skills

During the day-to-day duties of a sales representative, things are constantly changing since no two customers or prospects are the same. They should be able to practice and prepare for each interaction ahead of time in order to handle this uncertainty.

Reps should be able to strike a balance during their presentation or demo, highlighting the product or service features as well as listening to customer challenges and what they want from the product. As part of this skill, it is essential to be engaging and resourceful to maintain their interest in the conversation.

4) Customer profiling skills

Sales professionals that work as part of a highly effective team can strategically target their users. Every day, they take time to identify the most promising possible business opportunities, where they can add value, and don't waste the time of the people they contact.

There is an emphasis on good research work, and they value whether or not the company provides them with training opportunities for them to improve this skill. Having a coaching platform that ties into their CRM will make this process much easier and ensures your organization can tie training efforts to actual conversion results.

5) Message-crafting skills

A skill like this was not as common in the old school of sales, where a pitch was judged based on the depth of product knowledge. In the modern world, message crafting skills are based on storytelling. It's about connecting with the customer and not just reciting product features and benefits from memory.

Any sales representative who is a part of your team or candidates should have the tools to develop their ability to tell a compelling, clear, and concise story. Moreover, they must be capable of producing content and delivering effective conversations with this information through video.

It's about appealing to prospects and customers' emotions and moving them to action. The stronger the personal connection, the more likely they are to purchase. While these skills have often been left to chance, AI-based coaching platforms provide an objective way to measure current relationship-building skills and grow them so that every rep on your team can be as good as your top reps.

6) Negotiation capabilities

The sales representative is responsible for leading a structured negotiation discussion upon preparing a proposal. When the right technology tools are available, your salespeople can practice and receive feedback on their negotiation abilities. Through automated evaluations and simulated scenarios, you will be able to gauge how well each rep can maintain stable negotiations and lead them to a successful closing.

The best platforms will evaluate these skills per rep, comparing them with team members and industry benchmarks. This objective measurement helps reps see their strengths and weaknesses, knowing how they measure up. Additionally, the platform will provide training recommendations and activities so they can improve their negotiation skills, remeasure, and see progress. It can be a powerful tool to build an effective sales team that is constantly improving skills across multiple behaviors.

7) Questioning skills

There is no doubt that the most successful sales team consists of reps who can ask relevant questions. Through questioning skills, they identify the needs of their clients and give each case the appropriate and personalized follow-up necessary.

By asking the right questions, they can determine the critical variables of each prospect. These include what challenges they are facing, their priorities, what they expect from the product and any feedback they may have.

Discovery calls are the interaction that exemplifies this skill to the greatest extent. It is a smart idea to practice this capability by learning what has worked in real-life conversations with the most effective sales reps. When use technology to objectively capture what your reps have done well, you will be able to distribute this knowledge to your other agents in an efficient and scalable manner.

8) Local knowledge

A successful salesperson needs to grasp everything local to each market where their customers are located to be effective. Knowing each territory intimately is a skill that they need to master to be as effective as possible.

Those who possess this ability are in a position to design specific messages for each territory to ensure that their communications are compelling and engaging. They typically appear more authentic, relatable and friendly.

9) Objection strategies

Good sales representatives know how to handle times when they hear "no" for an answer. Those who are better at managing objections can use these as opportunities to improve the conversation and move closer to locking the sale by asking good questions. They can get an objection in various ways: From a clear outright "no" to disbelief or disinterest reactions from the customer.

Use a coaching platform where they can learn how other reps get past the “no”, practice and measure their own techniques, and get AI-based scores that predict how well they would do in a real-life scenario. They can continue to hone their skills until their score improves enough that they feel confident they can convert a skeptical prospect into a purchasing customer.

10) Time management skills

An excellent seller knows the entire process to make a sale can take time, and they are willing to build relationships through meaningful conversations. The truth is, reps don’t always get the face time they once were afforded, particularly in pharma sales. Everyone is pressed for time and people are tired of virtual meetings. A Stanford study found that people say virtual meetings are more exhausting than in-person meetings.

While video calls are convenient, they pose new challenges, namely, keeping participants engaged. Whether in person or virtual, sales teams need to learn how to modify their sales calls to deliver concise yet effective messaging and use proper soft skills.

As you can see, all these skills have one thing in common: They can all be part of your training and coaching program and can also be vital elements in your job description to recruit the best candidates.

To develop an effective sales team, innovative technology can provide objective, scalable, personalized solutions. Read on to learn how an AI-based coaching tool can help you build your current salespeople and attract the best talent to your company.

Expedite Ramp and Enable Performance with the Help of an AI-Powered Coaching Platform

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Companies worldwide use AI-powered coaching to create better outcomes and conversations: Pivotal components of effective sales teams.

Check out some of the results and features you can get for yourself and your team.

Improved business performance

With the help of AI, you can learn how your top performers stand out, which conversations influence customer perceptions of your brand, and how to deliver messaging that resonates with your audience.

Choosing the right software will help you answer these questions, allowing your sales reps and coaches to know what's working, what's not, and how to improve.

Conversation capture capabilities

Live, simulated or recorded; the entire experience can be easily integrated into your workflow. The software's proprietary database of human-scored behaviors and AI helps define what people in surveys consider excellent communications skills, letting your organization set objective performance benchmarks on the most critical behaviors.

Action-oriented analytics

Machine learning predicts behaviors and prioritizes actions. The platform can assess dozens of communication conducts at the individual, representative, or team level in just a few seconds, identifying and scoring strengths and weaknesses. This science-based measurement gives you objective insight into where each rep needs to train.

AI-driven development

You'll get personalized, actionable recommendations for your sellers based on video observations. With a digital and scalable platform, you can help them change individual behavior and improve skills by up to 28 percent in a year.

Certification and reporting

Individuals, teams, and organizations can benefit from personalized insights that drive aggregate improvement. Your reps will also receive personalized feedback on how skills perform against the benchmarks as well as against peers, plus motivating goal-setting activities.

Quantified delivers objective communication skills measurements at the individual level. The platform works using a research-validated, AI-based scoring model and various benchmarking databases instead of generalized assumptions.

Through automated feedback, coaching, and measurement, Quantified analyzes customer interactions, tracks performance based on behavioral indicators and helps your salesforce become highly effective. Request a demo now.

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