Is there such a thing as a non-ambitious salesperson? Every salesperson we know wants to hit those targets!
And to be able to hit your targets and make great commission, you need to be a high-performing sales executive in a high-performing sales team. Unfortunately (or fortunately), it’s a field where the better you are the better you do in every single moment!
There’s no slacking off. Period!
Sometimes that can feel out of your control – a deal that you’ve been working on for really long goes south because of management decisions, or the market crashes and your lead flow seems to evaporate. And there’s nothing you can do about it!
But what you can do is make sure that when things are in your control, you’re there to deliver and convert maximum leads or deals into sales.
Let’s talk productivity.
- What is ‘Productivity’?
- What Does a Highly Productive Sales Rep Look Like?
- Here Are 7 Sales Skills You Need to Be a Highly Productive Sales Representative
- 1. A Sales Skill Called Active Listening
- 2. A Sales Skill Called Business Understanding
- 3. A Sales Skill Called Resilience
- 4. A Sales Skill Called Technical Know-How
- 5. A Sales Skill Called Organization
- 6. A Sales Skill Called Time Management
- 7. A Sales Skill Called Discipline
What is ‘Productivity’?
In the context of this article, productivity refers to how effective a salesperson is at his/her job – closing deals and increasing revenue at a good pace.
What Does a Highly Productive Sales Rep Look Like?
1. They Don’t Let Other Activities Get in the Way of Active Selling
As a sales representative, you can end up spending a lot of time on administrative tasks.
Highly productive sales reps, however, spend a significant amount of time working on their prospecting and selling instead!
They are actively working to close more leads.
2. They Are Completely Aligned with Expectations from the Manager
A highly productive sales representative knows what is expected of them – in addition to closures, of course – and has also made their goals clear to their manager.
As a result, they work in tandem to achieve targets without any friction or grey areas.
3. They Are Experts at Their Level in the Sales Field
Sales is a fast-moving field!
You have best practices, new sales techniques, market fluctuations, and business goals that come into play.
Highly productive sales representatives take out the time to keep themselves up to date – when you talk to them, you instantly recognize that they are on the ball when it comes to sales.
Even productive junior sales representatives exude knowledge that sets them apart from peers.
4. They Know How to Talk Themselves up
Highly productive sales representatives know that they have to keep moving. So, they know how to bounce back with the best of them. When something gets them down, they know how to get themselves back up without having to rely on external motivation.
5. They Aren’t Afraid to Use Tools & Technology
A highly productive sales representative knows that there are limited hours in the day, so any minutes saved are going to be a big help.
They are eager to use tools and technology to help them save time and automate tasks so they can spend more time actively selling.
To give you a clearer idea- Inefficient use of time, unclear expectations, lack of sales understanding, and a haphazard approach are the most common barriers to being highly productive.
So now that you have a picture of what a highly productive sales representative looks like, we can move on to breaking down the sales skills that are required to get there. We realize that we just painted a picture of a stereotypical Type-A sales professional, but the truth is that there’s a lot more to it.
Here Are 7 Sales Skills You Need to Be a Highly Productive Sales Representative
1. A Sales Skill Called Active Listening
Active listening is one of the most important sales skills there is. Every highly productive sales representative knows that active listening not only helps them sell better, but it also saves time in the long run – the more you listen to what your client needs, the better your understanding of them and the quicker you can close the sale.
Active listening helps you gather all the information you need to sell to your lead. So, instead of having a spiel ready, active listening will get you to your goal much faster!
Here are a few tips for active listening-
1. Don’t Interrupt
Let your lead do the talking, and always let them finish their sentence or thought.
Constantly interrupting your lead makes you come across as aggressive or disinterested, and you lose out on the chance to learn more about them.
2. Ask Open-ended Questions
Don’t ask questions just to get a particular answer. Also, throw in some open-ended questions that will have the lead really open up and give you details you wouldn’t otherwise know to ask for.
An example of an open-ended question is, “What prompted you or your company to look into this?”
3. Pay Attention to Non-spoken Cues
Since we’re working from home at the moment, you might not have the chance to read body language or expressions. But you can immediately sense interest, disinterest, irritation, boredom and the like from tone of voice!
Learn to identify these and use them to steer your conversation – this is especially important during a sales pitch.
4. Remember Earlier Details
Remembering and using details from past conversations is more of an outcome of active listening than a tip to do it well, but we’ll throw it in here anyway. Doing that makes your lead feel heard and taken care of, and he or she is most likely to stick with you because they feel you have listened to their needs and are hence most likely to deliver.
2. A Sales Skill Called Business Understanding
A highly productive sales representative understands the business goals behind the work they are doing. Although this might not always be in their control, they know the business objectives that are driving decisions such as the type of leads to prioritize.
And, they use that understanding to craft a sales pitch and do a better job at closing.
Here are a few things you can do – that are in your control – to improve your business understanding:
1. Schedule a Discussion with Your Boss
Talk to him about the business’ goals for the quarter, what type of deals are important to the business, and whether the deals that are being closed are sticking around.
Be upfront about the fact that you’d like to use these insights to deepen your sales approach.
2. Be Well-Acquainted with Your Product/Service
Most sales reps only make enough effort to understand what they should be selling about their product/service. But the real gold lies in knowing the details, the ins and outs. Trust us, it will set you apart from the rest.
3. Read-up on the Market
You need to be knowledgeable about what’s happening in your industry and the industry/industries your leads come from.
This will help you understand business decisions and get a sense of where your company is heading – and how you should be selling to whom!
Use the insights to influence what you say in your lead calls and also which leads you to prioritize.
3. A Sales Skill Called Resilience
Resilience is another very important sales skill to work on. Highly productive sales representatives are able to perform at their caliber because they have trained themselves to bounce back from less-than-ideal situations.
Even the best salesperson has a tough day – maybe a long-time deal falls through at the last moment, for example. They know they can’t control the situation but they can control the way they respond and come back from it. Ever wondered how they keep themselves going?
We’ve written an entire blog post on the topic, but for your convenience allow us to list our tips for building resilience here:
1. Ask for Help When You Need it
You won’t be able to deal with every problem on your own. If you think a big deal is going to fall through at the last moment, reach out to your manager for help right away.
Asking for help in advance makes it easier to deal with and bounce back from a tough situation!
2. Know What’s in Your Control
If the outcome of a situation is not in your control, know that you need to bounce back from it faster. You just need to be comfortable knowing you’ve done everything you can!
3. Bring Wellness into Your Life
Leading a balanced lifestyle is key to being able to deal with any situation.
Meditate, exercise, cultivate your hobbies – find different ways to step away from constant thinking so you can look at situations from a balanced perspective when needed.
4. Expect Rejection
One of the easiest ways to deal with rejection is to expect it! It’s something every single salesperson faces, so you might as well be prepared for it while doing everything you can to prevent it.
4. A Sales Skill Called Technical Know-How
This probably shouldn’t even be listed as a sales skill because it’s so obvious, but all highly productive sales representatives are just plain good at selling and they’ve worked hard to be that way. The technical know-how of sales techniques and approaches is so important!
As you probably agree, selling isn’t just about being a people person and convincing someone to spend money on something they may/may not need. It’s a centuries-old field with techniques that have been innovated, perfected, and passed down. As a sales representative, that is part of the technical sales skills you need.
Here are a few ways to keep updating your technical know-how-
1. Follow Sales Leaders & Learn from Them
Think global, and find leaders (like Brian Tracy) from whom you can learn.
Read their books, sign up for workshops, and as a bare minimum follow them on LinkedIn.
2. Practice Your Sales Techniques
Once you learn about new ways to approach sales, practice them either on your colleagues or on leads – perfect ways that work for you and add your own spin to them.
3. Find Learning Experiences
Workshops, webinars, conferences where you can network and learn from others…even just asking your sales head to hold a team session.
Find learning experiences around you!
4. Hold Role-play Sessions
Ask your manager to arrange sessions for the team to do mock sales conversations, with a number of different situations already planned out by your manager. The more challenging the better! She/he will also be able to guide you with tips & techniques along the way.
5. Get a Mentor
This isn’t possible for everyone, which is why we’ve saved it for last.
If you know someone (within or outside the company) whom you look up to for their sales knowledge, ask them if they’ll mentor you for a while.
Sometimes all it takes is to ask, and you’ll be able to learn from all their experiences!
5. A Sales Skill Called Organization
When you think ‘organized’, a neat and tidy desk probably comes to mind. That’s important, but we’re talking about being mentally organized and in approach. That means having a clear idea of the day ahead of you, and it also means promptly sorting through and updating lead data in your sales CRM for small businesses.
You’ll notice that salespersons who are organized have immediate answers to every question asked of them by the manager – this is because they are clear on things at all times. A few ways to be organized include:
1. Have an Updated Lead Pipeline
That means having all your lead data updated, follow-ups scheduled and statuses up-to-date.
2. Avoid Multitasking
The difference between giving a task your 100% attention and multitasking is always felt, especially when you’re handling multiple leads plus administrative work. Worst case scenario, multitasking can negatively impact your lead handling.
3. Be Able to Say ‘No’
Saying no is an important part of a healthy corporate culture. This means saying no to superfluous tasks, unexpected work that can wait, tasks that aren’t as important/urgent as the ones you already have. If you have difficulty saying no, you’ll have difficulty making progress!
4. Run an Organized CRM Dashboard
As a sales rep you probably use a sales CRM, and it is essential that you keep your data filled in and updated, and that you keep your dashboard up to the moment. Your CRM dashboard & reports will give you the insights you need to have all the answers at any time.
5. Have a To-do List
Where you use the CRM to create your to-do lists or use a notepad, end each day with a list of things you need to get done the next day.
That allows you to end the day with a clear mind and start the day knowing exactly what needs to get done.
6. A Sales Skill Called Time Management
As a sales representative, you’re constantly being pulled in all directions. You have to handle leads in different stages, complete administrative work, handle internal processes, and other responsibilities your level of hierarchy may need from you.
Time management is an essential sales skill if you want to be a highly productive salesperson, or you’ll never be able to spend time on the most important activity of all – selling.
Here’s what time management involves as a salesperson-
1. Templatize Things
Your company has probably set certain templates for things like lead outreach emails, but you can set your own templates too.
For example, you can create templatized text messages that automatically get sent to leads if you miss a call, letting them know you’ll get right back to them – that saves you time and creates peace of mind.
You can also create templates for reports that you know your sales manager likes to see every week, and automatically have your system create them.
2. Know What to Prioritize
We have a soft spot for the Eisenhower Matrix that tells you what to prioritize:
- If it’s important and urgent – do it and do it first
- If it’s important but not urgent – do it, but do it later
- If it’s urgent but not important – delegate it or automate it
- If it’s neither important nor urgent – just say no
3. Plan Your Day Around Your Leads
This is a commonly heard recommendation in sales and its pure gold. The end goal of your job and your reason for being at your company is to close leads into sales.
So, plan your day around your lead calls and meetings or follow-ups. This helps you spend more time actively selling, and hence actively closing more leads.
7. A Sales Skill Called Discipline
This particular sales skill – being disciplined – is a skill you’ll find in every top leader in any field. Being disciplined means knowing what is needed, know what is good for you, and doing it over and over again even when the going gets tough.
This starts right from your personal habits and continues into the workspace in the things you do and the way you execute your work.
Now, you might look at a successful sales rep you know and think “He is definitely not a disciplined person, he’s so laidback!” but look closer and you’ll find that he or she is probably very disciplined in the way they do their day-to-day work.
Here are some suggestions we have to bring discipline into your life-
1. Wake Up Early
This one is probably a dreaded piece of advice! But it’s true what they say – you get a lot more done in the day when you wake up early. Try it once: create a list of things you’d do if you woke up at 6, and then just force yourself out of bed one morning. It’ll be tough for a few days, but it’ll soon become a habit and your productivity will shoot up!
2. Create Workplace Habits
For example, every morning when you switch on your computer, check your lead follow-ups first and get them out of the way.
Or, spend 30 minutes after lunch walking around the office (or home, as the case may be right now) and making lead calls – great for digestion, a great way to demarcate selling time!
Make sure you do this day after day to turn them into a habit.
3. Know When to Wind Down
Even high productivity sales reps know that they need downtime. Your time away from work is time spent recharging to give your 100% once again the next day. Of course, you might not be able to say no to unexpected sales calls, but try to schedule and encourage most calls only until a certain time. The time you choose is up to you!
Ready to put those sales skills to use and become a high-performing sales representative? Let us know if you have any other tips you’d like to share!