Tips To Keep Your Sales Skills Sharp

Most of the companies that we call on, who are either a customer or a prospect, are experiencing solid results from this robust economy. Corporate earnings reports from Q2 showed higher than anticipated growth, unemployment is low, and new construction continues to flourish.

In this go-go economy, how can you tell if your sellers are making things happen or are simply on the receiving end of predisposed buying opportunities? Whether it is one or the other, or a combination of the two, NOW is the time to fine tune your sales organization’s selling skills. Waiting for the inevitable slowdown/downturn is risky business. 30 years ago, Harvey Mackay wrote a book called “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty,” and that adage still holds true today.

Where to Start?  

Begin the process of selling skills improvement by giving your sales representatives a self-assessment of the Six Key Sales Skills needed to be successful. Next, grade the reps on your team with the same assessment and compare your results. The results will be a good starting point toward developing a coaching plan. If you’re looking for a good assessment, we will be happy to provide you with one—simply send a request to

Proactive New Business Development, Needs Analysis, Solution Development, Access Key Players, Managing the Buying Process and Negotiation and Closing—those are the “Key Six”. Where does the team need help, and most importantly, where do individual reps need to improve? Once you complete your assessment, it’s time to establish a hard and fast—can’t be moved regardless of the excuse—coaching plan.

First Line Managers are Critical

Most First Line Sales Managers (FLMs) are “deal coaches”. By that, I mean they help sellers arrange the best product-service-price package for a new prospect or customer. While that is an important function, it is equally important to continuously develop the skills mentioned above. In many industries, professionals often practice their skills to carefully hone their craft, and sales should not be an exception.

FLMs are the window into a salesperson’s world, and once armed with the assessment output, can be a huge differentiator in the results a seller gets with a skills improvement coaching plan. The FLM should hone in on one or two skills at a time to help the seller improve. Trying to coach all skills all the time will only end up leaving the seller confused.

“In God We Trust, All Others bring Data”

This quote is from a German Vice President of Sales we worked with in the Frankfurt area. He wanted to see the information that a prospect or customer validated to show that his sales team was working on the right opportunities.

One of the sales process outputs he valued most was the deliverables that a seller shares with a prospect/customer as the buying process unfolds. Some are as simple as an email confirmation, while others involve more complex advancements. But once these communication pieces are in place, there is a direct correlation to the deliverables, sales process steps, and the corresponding selling skills that align with each. If certain pieces are missing, there is a high probability that the seller needs improvement in that skill.

Assess, Review Information and Coach the skills. Now is the time to put this platform in place to guide your sellers toward success.