Sales representatives are critical to the growth of any business. They serve as a principal point of contact between the business and its customers. Sales reps ensure that current customers have the right products, identify new sales leads, and pitch to prospects. For being a successful sales rep, there are certain skills you need to develop over time.
As a first-time sales rep, you need to develop your sales skill and follow proven sales strategies to make you better at selling.
In this article, we would be looking at ten best selling tips for first-time sales reps. These tips would serve as a foundation to help you build a successful sales career.
Let’s get started.
- Get in-depth knowledge of the products you are selling
- Understand the pain points of the customer
- Sell to the right people
- Close more deals with team selling
- Shadow a peer
- Conduct call reviews
- Practice your soft skills
- Know when to walk away
- Follow up
- Learn how to handle sales rejection
Product knowledge is essential, regardless of the industry you are in. With consumers having direct access to the internet and knowing more than ever, sales reps must know their products in and out.
Research shows that 50% of customers are looking for expert advice when making purchase decisions, while a further 73% say product knowledge is what they need most from a sales representative. This level of expectation from customers means that sales reps need to have extensive knowledge of the products they are selling.
Basic knowledge of the product isn’t enough. Sales reps need to know every single detail about the product.
When a prospect asks a sales rep about any detail of a product, the sales rep should be able to give an answer quickly. The only way a sales rep can confidently answer prospect questions in real-time is if they have a thorough understanding of the product.
Sales reps should know everything about a product, including:
- Price: Sales reps need to know the cost of the product they are selling. This would include cost variations depending on packages and features.
- ROI: Sales reps need to know the ROI a product can bring for the customer. For example, in a sales pitch, sales reps can use statistics like, “Our enterprise customers see an 80% increase in customer engagement within the first three months of using our software.“
- Customizations: Sales reps need to understand how to customize a product to meet different customers’ needs. For example, if you sell software, the sales reps should be able to explain how startups, enterprises, and even small businesses can use the software.
- Does it work? This is a question that sales reps should expect to face daily. Sales reps need to be armed with case studies that show the effectiveness of the product.
- Knowledge of technical issues: A sales rep should also have basic knowledge of technical questions that customers might ask. For example, “how often should I expect developer updates?“
- Product road mapping: Sales team should have an idea of the new products or features that would be coming out in the next few months. Good knowledge of the business marketing mix can help convince customers that need an extra push.
Effective salespeople spend time with prospects that have problems their products can solve.
If the prospects you approach do not have any pain points, they have no need for your product or service. And without need, it would be difficult to convince them to make a purchase. It’s then up to the sales rep to learn how they can quickly uncover the customer’s pain points.
First, what are customer pain points?
A pain point is a specific problem that your Company’s potential buyer is experiencing.
Pain points can be grouped into four broad categories. They are:
- Financial pain points: The prospect is spending too much money on their current provider or product and wants to reduce spending.
- Productivity pain points: The prospect is wasting too much time before getting solutions with their current provider and wants to increase their productivity.
- Process pain points: The prospect wants to improve the internal processes of their businesses. For example, qualifying leads before moving them down the sales funnel.
- Support pain points: The prospect isn’t happy with the support they are getting from their current provider or product.
With these pain points, you can determine the best way to approach every customer. For example, if your prospect’s main pain point is financing, you can position your own product as having a cheaper monthly subscription plan with the same benefits as their current provider.
To effectively understand the pain points of prospects, you need to ask relevant questions. Here are some questions you can ask to help you identify the prospect’s pain points:
- What’s the biggest inhibitor to your growth? (This is a general pain point question for any kind of prospect)
- What does your boss obsess about? (This is a pain point question for prospects that have people above them. The individuals might be in charge of the buying decision)
- What takes up most of the time of your day?
- What is regularly discussed at company meetings by senior management?
- Why are your customers churning?
- Why are you losing deals?
These are some questions you can ask to help you understand the customer’s pain points.
A common mistake that first time sales reps make is trying to sell to the wrong people. They spend a lot of their time reaching out to people who are not interested in talking to them.
How can you connect with people that are interested in what you have to say?
– By harnessing the power of inbound sales.
Inbound sales is a personalized sales methodology where salespeople focus on each prospect’s pain points. Instead of trying to close the deal as quickly as possible, they act as trusted consultants. In this sales strategy, the salesperson helps guide the prospect through each stage of the buyer’s journey.
An inbound sales strategy helps you attract customers who need your product by providing them value. With an outbound sales strategy like cold emailing, you are trying to reach as many people as possible, potentially engaging with prospects who are not interested in what you are selling.
The extra time you put into educating each prospect will also increase your chances of converting them into paying customers. This strategy also helps you identify whether a prospect is a good fit for your product.
Taking your time to educate the prospect also positions you as someone they can trust. This ensures that you are the first salesperson the prospect calls when they are ready to make a purchase.
Team selling is an efficient way to close more deals.
Team selling is a sales strategy where two or more sales reps work together to win deals – rather than personal selling. Team selling is effective because it leverages the expertise and skills of the team members.
Team selling doesn’t always have to be members of the same team working on an account. It can be bringing in another specialist from another department (e.g. manufacturing or customer service) to address any specific concerns a client might have.
The sales department traditionally has a culture of competition – with team members competing with each other to see who will top the sales leaderboard.
While competition has its advantages, research has shown that team selling is more effective. According to research by Gong.io, team selling increases the chances of closing a deal by up to 258% compared to solo selling.
You can learn a lot about becoming a better sales rep by shadowing a peer with more experience than you.
Shadowing a teammate with more experience allows a beginner sales rep to gain comprehensive knowledge about what is expected from them on the job. It helps them better understand the nuances of the job and the key deliverables that would be expected from them.
They can take time to listen in on sales calls, visit prospects with experienced team members, attend employee meetings or training events, and become thoroughly familiar with the job.
Performing call reviews would help you gather your thoughts, show you which areas you need to improve on and areas that are working well. These reviews are one of the best tools to help you develop your skills throughout your sales career.
The first step in determining whether the sales call was a success is to understand why you called in the first place. Was the call to qualify a lead, schedule a demo, or follow up after a meeting?
A regular review would help you identify the percentage of your sales calls that end up in you reaching your objectives (e.g convincing the prospect to agree to a product trial). In the instances where you don’t reach your objectives, listening to the calls would help you identify what went wrong.
You can ask review questions like:
- Was the prospect actually interested in the conversation?
- At what point during the call did the prospect lose interest? (For example, a prospect might lose interest after hearing the price of your product)
- How well did you deliver the sales pitch?
- Did you provide solid answers to the prospect’s questions or objections?
- How confident did you sound while answering questions?
With questions like this, sales reps can easily track the success of their sales calls and also identify areas where they need to improve.
There are several sales skills you would need to possess to become a successful salesperson.
But beyond having technical sales skills like creating a sales forecast or knowing how to use a CRM, you even need to practice your soft sales skills.
Understanding the technical aspects of the job is great, but if you don’t know how to connect with prospects, it would be difficult to make sales.
Soft skills are what differentiate great sales reps from their peers.
Sales reps deal with customers on a daily basis. These customers would have different characters, and a salesperson should know to handle each customer. While technical skills are required to help you get the job done, soft skills would help you create a connection with the client. This connection is required for a deal to be won.
Soft skills like communication are required to successfully sell a product. You might have an amazing product, but if you cannot effectively communicate the benefits of the product, you would close fewer sales deals than you should.
Some of the soft sales skills to develop are empathy, emotional intelligence, active listening, time management, flexibility, public speaking, and more.
A useful skill sales reps should have is knowing when to walk away. There is no point in wasting time on a deal when the prospect isn’t showing any interest. The time you waste on an unreceptive prospect can be channeled to more productive activities.
For a more efficient sales process, you should work towards shortening your average sales cycle.
If you don’t walk away from a bad sales deal, the prospect might drag you along for weeks without giving you a definite answer. This is just a waste of your time.
When prospects start saying things like, “send me an email, I’ll get back to you” or “I’ll get back to you at a better time“, it might be time for you to walk.
When faced with the possibility of the prospect saying no, you can use the negative reverse selling strategy to know where you stand.
Reverse selling is a strategy where you respond to a prospect’s question with another question. This strategy helps sales reps understand where they stand with the prospect.
Here is a template on how reverse selling works:
Prospect: “XYZ fluffy response.”
Salesperson: “Typically, when I hear someone say XYZ, it really means ABC. Is it fair for me to assume that’s the case?”
The last line – “is it fair to assume that’s the case?” – is very important. With this open-ended question at the end of the sentence, the client would have to give you a definitive answer. This would save you time and show you where you stand on the current deal.
With this technique, if the response is positive, you can delve deeper to find out how you can persuade the prospect to see the value of your product. For example, the prospect might like your product but don’t have the budget for it. You can customize a package to meet their budget. Both parties win; they get a product they love, and you make a sale.
9. Follow up
Did you know that 60% of customers say no four times before saying yes, whereas 48% of salespeople never even make a single follow up attempt?
Sometimes prospects say no because they are unsure of what to do. Instead of counting on the prospect’s promises in the initial meeting, following up helps the sales rep know where they stand on the current deal.
According to Hubspot, 80% of sales would require up to five follow-up calls before the deal is won. This stat shows the value of following up. Following up after the initial contact is essential to getting deals done.
Here are simple techniques to help you get better at following up:
- Ask the client on the best way to follow up with them without sounding annoying
- Ask what their preferred form of communication is
- Always end each conversation with a clearly defined next step
- Always send an email that summarizes the conversation and ask for their confirmation
- Always have a specific reason to contact your prospect. Don’t just call to “check up on them”
The reality is that you won’t win every deal. Some prospects won’t just like you or your product. It is crucial to learn how to deal with rejection.
The key is to identify why the sales deal fell through. If possible, ask the prospect what went wrong. Get opinions from your teammates on what you can do to improve your outreach. Use the lessons from the failed deals to improve your sales process going forward.
Becoming a top sales representative doesn’t just happen in one day. You would need to develop your sales skills and follow the strategies listed above to help you get better at selling.
Advanced tools like Salesmate CRM can help you automate most of the tasks in your sales process. With the platform, you can easily follow-up with prospects in real-time, create email templates in the CRM and reuse it to save time, manage your contacts, create sales reports, and more.