The <a target="_blank" href="https://www.entrepreneur.com/topic/sales" class="auto-tagged ga-click ai-metadata" data-ga-category="autotag-linking" data-ga-label="ai-metadata" data-ga-action="https://www.entrepreneur.com/topic/sales" rel="noopener">sales</a> world is becoming more difficult every year. In 2022, <a target="_blank" href="https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20220223005428/en/Crayon%E2%80%99s-Fifth-Annual-State-of-Competitive-Intelligence-Report-Reveals-Increased-Investment-in-Competitive-Intelligence-as-Competition-Becomes-Fiercer-than-Ever-Before" rel="nofollow noopener">59% of competitive intelligence</a> leaders agreed their industry has gotten much more competitive. VioletaStoimenova | Getty Images The only way to stay ahead is to improve your sales skills and get better at what you do. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.entrepreneur.com/topic/research" class="auto-tagged ga-click ai-metadata" data-ga-category="autotag-linking" data-ga-label="ai-metadata" data-ga-action="/topic/research" rel="noopener">Research</a> shows that filling the pipeline was the top go-to-market priority in B2B sales for <a target="_blank" href="https://www.marketingcharts.com/customer-centric/lead-generation-and-management-225647" rel="nofollow noopener">48.8% of sales</a> and <a target="_blank" href="https://www.entrepreneur.com/topic/marketing" class="auto-tagged ga-click ai-metadata" data-ga-category="autotag-linking" data-ga-label="ai-metadata" data-ga-action="https://www.entrepreneur.com/topic/marketing" rel="noopener">marketing</a> leaders. Learning how to find more prospects — and then close those leads — is key.
Today, I’ll cover six strategies you can use to improve your sales skills, generate more deals and deliver even more results.
Related: Take Your Sales Skills to the Next Level With These 5 Simple Steps1. Be an industry expert
All sales are built first on trust, and industry expertise is one of the best ways to generate that trust. By sharing your insights, you can become known as a thought leader and help bridge the trust gap with your prospects.
Expanding across more channels can also help you sell in today’s connected world. Research shows that today’s B2B buyers use ten channels to interact with suppliers — double the number used just five years ago. Sharing your knowledge can attract prospects across those channels.
And knowing more about your industry and market makes it even easier to sense what your prospects are thinking, respond to objections and close the sale. One of the best ways to show your industry expertise is by practicing what you preach. For example, I’m known as an expert in PR and SEO — mostly because I’ve used the same techniques I teach to grow my business and help clients.
- Improve your prospecting
Prospecting isn’t a numbers game. Or rather, it isn’t just a numbers game. Of course, you’ll need to reach out to enough prospects, but it starts with understanding who’s most likely to respond. Four out of ten sales professionals say they lose prospects because they don’t have enough personalized information on them. So, one of the first ways to improve prospecting is through better research.
Research what specific pain points best apply to the prospect. You probably already know the most common issues your leads face, and some background information can help you match these problems to what you see in your prospect’s business.
There’s another area to consider as well. Most salespeople know to look for business details, but personal information can also be a big help. Look for personal interests that align with yours. We tend to like people who are like us, so finding these similarities can be a huge help.
- Revamp your qualification process
Once you’ve put in the work to find someone qualified, it can be difficult to cut them loose. But quality matters over quantity, and the more prospects you can eliminate during the qualification process, the better. It means you can focus more of your time and attention on the people most likely to buy.
So, qualify early in the sales process and be as strict as possible. As soon as you know a prospect won’t buy, move on. The longer you wait, the more time you’ll waste with unqualified prospects.
One of the best ways to filter prospects faster is to improve the questions you (or your team) ask during the qualifying process. Consider questions like:
What solutions have you already tried?
Why are you looking to solve this problem now?
What happens if you don’t take action on the problem right now?
What could keep your company/team/department from moving forward?
- Use the right tools
The right tools can help you save time and money, close more sales and build sales skills along the way. Research shows that 39% of sales professionals spend too much time working in different technologies, so tools that reduce the workload are best.
First, I recommend software to reduce friction and help you reach out at the right time. A call at the right time can make or break the sale, so it’s smart to automate this process instead of keeping it in your head. A technology platform like a CRM can help you stay organized, follow up and land sales consistently.
The second is a voice-over internet protocol (VoIP) system. Per its definition: VoIP uses the cloud instead of analog wiring, meaning you can call from anywhere. You can also track call data, review statistics and more. If you’re still using a landline to reach prospects, it’s time to move on.
And for an even smarter boost, make sure to personalize your information as much as you can when setting up demos or calls with your prospective customers. For example, you can set up a virtual phone number, which allows you to customize the area code you’re calling from to your prospective customers’ local area code.
- Review sales calls to find weaknesses
I just mentioned using a VoIP system for calls, and there’s a hidden benefit — you can easily review recorded calls and find your own strengths and weaknesses.
Listening back to your old sales calls isn’t fun for anyone, but it’s one of the best ways to improve. You can pinpoint areas where you excel, and look for responses that didn’t land as well or areas where you can improve.
Take time on a regular basis, like each week, to go over a few of your sales calls and look for ways to improve. Prepare better, more persuasive ways to engage with prospects. Then review how well those methods worked in your next review session. Similar to A/B testing, this continual improvement will help you find the best way to convince prospects and close more deals.
- Build skills with role-playing
A final skill to add to your toolbox is role-playing. Once you’ve spotted a weak point during your sales calls, the best way to change the habit is by practicing over and over.
You can role-play the kind of conversation you want to improve with a colleague, co-worker or friend. Explain the scenario to them, and even provide them with a basic script if necessary, complete with common objections.
I recommend recording your role-playing call and running all the way through without interruptions as if it were a real sales call. Then listen back and spot areas where you’d like to improve — before implementing the changes on calls with real sales on the line.
Sales skills are more important than ever. Thankfully, the tools available to improve those skills are even easier to find and constantly improving. With a little bit of technology and a desire to improve, you can study your sales skills and grow tremendously. That’s all it takes to start moving forward and delivering even more in your sales role.