B2B sales skills you need to master in the 21st century
Salespeople are a vital part of the chain in any B2B organization, as they are the ones who are ultimately responsible for closing deals. For any company, it’s a simple enough equation - to be successful you need to win business and make money.
However, selling doesn’t always come easily for everyone and even if you’re a natural, there will be skills that can be improved upon or new ones that can be added.
In the past, sales teams were ruthless and never took no for an answer. Reps would work away at someone until they gave in and pretty much anything was fair game (or at least that’s the image of sales that people often have).
Nowadays, thanks to the digital world we live in, things have changed. The role of a salesperson has evolved and consultative selling has come to the fore.
But one fact remains: The best salespeople will always be looking for ways to enhance their skills and achieve greater things.
Whether you already work in sales and wish to upskill, or you’re new to the game and currently finding your feet, you’ll want to ensure you’ve got all bases covered. In this blog, we’re going to help you do just that.
What makes a good salesperson?
So, what actually makes a good salesperson? Is it about being able to sell ice to an Eskimo? Or is it about understanding a prospect’s needs and being able to present them with a solution they cannot refuse?
The time of cold calling is over. People simply don’t pick up the phone anymore. Getting to the decision maker is an art, which at the same time has been made both easier and more difficult with advances in technology.
Usually, in B2B sales you face a longer sales cycle. That means you’re in it for the long-haul and must be able to build up a relationship over time. And there are certain key skills that any sales rep needs to master if they are to manage the intricate customer relationships needed for lasting business success.
In the end, a great B2B sales person is one who can network, consult and form relationships by building rapport. They will be able to extract what the true value of their product or service is for an individual client. They will also be great at walking in a client’s shoes and understanding their needs, which in turn helps a potential client feel at ease and begin to trust them.
If a prospect feels valued and understood - on top of which they truly have a need for what you are offering – then the deal will happen. So-called ‘soft skills’ are therefore some of the top skills that any good salesperson needs to have.
A good salesperson…
Has empathy and develops understanding for a prospect’s needs
Is willing to engage with a prospect at their level
Can add value to a prospect’s life, not only once the deal is made but during the sales process
Is skilled in asking questions to get to the bottom of any hesitations or objections
Can quickly extract the value that their proposal will bring for the prospect’s business
The top B2B sales skills you need to master
When we talk about skills, they can broadly be categorized into two groups:
Soft skills - which are the ones that aren’t tangible and have more to do with you as a person
Hard skills - which are the tools of the trade
Can you learn to have more empathy? In a word, yes! There are ways and means to increase your levels of empathy and understanding. Tips on doing so can be found in this article:
Being a good communicator often comes down to being a good listener. At the end of the day, it simply means being able to hold your own thoughts for a moment, while you consider the other person. Knowing how to truly engage with them and wanting to find out more about them is a key to success in sales:
Improving emotional intelligence (EQ)
One skill that is sometimes overlooked but is equally important for improving sales success, is working on improving your emotional intelligence (EQ). By this, we mean how well you understand and work with emotions - both your own and those of the person you’re conversing with.
The easiest way to improve in this area is to work with a coach, but you can also start on your own. Read up on how to do this here:
It’s no surprise that more and more organizations now work with professional coaches and trainers to help their workforce achieve better results. The ability to take feedback on board and improve personal skills is invaluable. Coachability refers to the ability someone has to be able to receive that feedback. In sales, it is common to employ trainers to help the sales force up their game.
Star salespeople rarely work alone in today’s world. A potential prospect may engage with many people within your organization before finally deciding to buy. Sharing information has become essential, as has collaboration, especially between sales, marketing and all other customer-facing teams. Teamwork and working in unity towards a shared goal can impact on your results. We discuss this issue in more depth here:
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