The skills your sales people need are evolving almost as quickly as the technology you sell. Your success relies on helping them to keep their skills up-to-date and relevant.

Buying has changed. Today, your buyers will be around 70 percent of the way through your sales cycle before they engage with someone from your sales team. So it’s more important than ever to make sure your staff know your product, market and prospects. They need to be able to help prospects make the right  purchases. Potential buyers should feel that they have a good understanding of what’s on offer. They should understand the risks that adopting new technology could bring. Finally, prospects need crystal-clear reasons to buy from you rather than your competitors.

Sales challenges have changed drastically in recent years. Budgets are tighter. Regulation is more complicated. Decision makers are different. Data shows that your decision makers are now more senior and typically work in groups of three. Nowadays, managing complex sales and multiple stakeholders are skills that sales people need.

Just like everyone, sales people like what they’re comfortable with. They like to sell the products they know best to people they’re familiar with. They prefer to use tools they’ve succeeded with before. As you adapt your offerings or target market to grow your business, you need to prepare your sales force for this and make sure they’re ready to support you on your journey.

Ian Hunter, Editor at Comms Business Magazine, told us: “Marketing needs to generate warm conversations for your sales people to progress, and that means you need to have a joined-up marketing strategy”

Here are some ideas to help you develop the skills that sales people need today.

Bespoke training

Wherever you can, provide bespoke, specific skills development for each aspect of the sales cycle. Base your training explicitly on your prospects and markets. Make sure you include; prospecting, qualification, value creation, stakeholder management, proposal development and negotiating the close.

Help your sales people to develop elevator pitches. By doing this, your sales force will always be ready and able to explain your value to prospects.

Stakeholder management training should help sales people to understand the complexities of managing multiple stakeholders across a range of clients. When coaching a sales force to negotiate the close of a sale, this should be based on value rather than price.

Interactive workshops

Even if sales teams have been with you for a long time, they’ll need refreshing regularly. The best way to reinforce skills and introduce new ways of working is by being interactive. In a consultative, interactive selling workshop you can create a picture of a new buyer environment and role-play multiple stakeholder relationships. If you want to make sure your sales people can operate successfully in a variety of sales environments with multiple senior stakeholders, the best thing to do is to try them – in a safe, stress-free environment.

Make sure you’re meeting the individual needs of each team member through individual evaluation, objective setting, coaching and mentoring. This is time intensive and will be needed more by certain individuals than others.

By giving individual support, you can make sure your sales people have a clear format to follow for consultative selling. They will have the knowledge, tools and confidence to upsell, cross-sell and initiate partnership working with other vendors. Being adaptable and confident in holding business conversations are skills that sales people need to sell effectively.

Bart Delgado, Managing Director of Akixi Ltd said: “The world has shifted from a capex model of large and infrequent capital purchases to an opex model of smaller, ongoing subscriptions. So why aren’t suppliers keeping step?”

Once you’re confident that your sales force is up-to-speed, you can begin to change your offer to meet evolving customer demands. You can introduce new target markets or solutions to your portfolio and be confident that your salespeople are ready to sell.

If you need some support to develop your sales teams, Larato can help.