Improving Sales Rep Selling Skills

improvingSkillsAl Morgan, Director of Solution Marketing at Porter Consulting

In order to grow, every company needs new solutions, products, and services. To improve profitability, those solutions need to be sold more quickly and at higher margins. This means better prepared sales reps that can call higher in organizations and identify opportunities earlier. Last minute, lowest price, RFP responses will not build your business. Proper training is vital to make sure your sales reps are successful.

Start From the Sales Rep Point of View

Your sales teams are some of the hardest working folks in your company, and commission selling makes them very focused and pragmatic. They know time is money, so getting out of the field, or off the phone, for training can raise eyebrows.

When you are planning training on a new product or solution, consider these guidelines:

  • Stay away from in-depth training that takes time and may not stick on its own.
  • Make training “just enough, just in time” so the rep can absorb and use it as needed. This means simple, quick to use sales tools that reps can take with them on their phone or tablet.
  • Focus on best fit customers and initial qualification. Back your reps with presales or overlay resources.
  • Provide “next steps” for continued training to ensure a variety of available resources. For example, podcasts are a great just in time solution to augment sales skills sessions.

Engage Your Sales Reps

Sales reps love new business. To get their attention, consider integrating lead generation and training. At Porter Consulting, we have found this agenda to work well:

  • Introduce the product/solution and explain why it is a new yet important part of their portfolio.
  • Look at ideal customers profiles and which roles to focus on in the accounts.
  • Walk through key driver issues and problems and how to get the customers to start talking.
  • Break the class into small groups, and have each rep practice building a short phone script, voicemail message, and email follow up.
  • Role play conversations using sales managers to represent customers.
  • Review each team’s contribution and get feedback from the entire group.
  • Spend 2-3 hours calling out to a preselected list of existing customers or new prospects.

This approach can take ½ day to a whole day. A face to face, interactive format yields excellent results and ensures that the training sticks.

  • Set actual appointment goals for the day. Sales reps love to compete, and adding a few small incentives for the day works wonders.
  • Sales manager participation sends the message that management is committed to the product, so the reps should be too.
  • Focus is on the customer and the business issues. This concept is a real eye-opener for reps that often get stuck in a procurement / response cycle. Mastering this skill can pay off in larger and higher margin deals, regardless of what a sales rep is selling.
  • Small team collaboration helps reps make sense of the new content. We have seen many cases where this is the first time the reps have had this type of training opportunity. It has been very well received, and we have seen reps ask their management to make it a standard practice.

It’s All about the Customer

Sales are really about the customer, not the product. Work with your sales teams to improve their customer skills in the context of the value your products and solutions bring. When your sales teams connect better with your customers, sales will follow.

I’d love to hear your thoughts: email me at almorgan(at)portertest(dot)net.


Al brings 30 years of IT solutions marketing to bear on current marketing and sales challenges.  Technologies change constantly, but it still takes content, skills and confidence to win the big decisions. You can find more blogs and content from Al at www.porterconsulting.net.  Porter Consulting is a marketing services consulting company who can you help you grow revenue.

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