Karin’s Leadership Articles

6 Competencies Your Sales Team Must Master

by | Jan 20, 2016 | By Karin Hurt, Winning Well |

When it comes to creating human connection, I always amazed how often I see a sales team missing these fundamental competencies.

Why This Matters

My friend looked at me in bewilderment as I explained why I couldn’t buy that “perfectly good” house in the neighborhood with the great schools, close to the University of Maryland where I teach, BWI airport, our church, and our gym.

“I love the house. It’s a great community. But I just can’t trust that builder. If they hire someone LIKE HER as their sales manager, I question who’s running the place. How can they allow her to act so cocky? How can we be sure their project managers or contractors will be any less self-centered? I’m sorry, I know you like it, but can we just keep looking a little more?”

We settled on a similar house a mile down the road. They probably thought it was the fireplace options. Nope. It was “Sarah.”

6 Competencies Your Sales Team Must Master

Great selling never feels like it. That’s why so many companies are moving away from traditional sales roles and teaching their teams to be “consultants,” “strategic partners,” and “solutions architects.” Of course a rose by any other name… Here are six key competencies fundamental to your sales team’s success.

1. Knowing When To Walk Away

Kenny Rodgers was right, at least on this note.  Your team will do more harm selling the wrong fit. Train your team to understand the value proposition behind: “I’m not sure this is the best solution for you right now, may I recommend…(insert competitors name here).” Trust me, I do this all the time in my own business. It’s painful. But this approach builds loyalty and referrals. Never sell anyone anything that isn’t just right.

Your customers must know that your team has best interests at heart. They have to be sure you care more about their mission and the greater good, than your numbers.

2. Asking Great Questions

Your team can’t make great recommendations if they don’t get the scene. Train them to ask strategic, open-ended questions and truly listen to the response.

3. Showing Up With Confident Humility

Your customers want to know you have a great solution to their problem. Start with a great product that your team can be proud of. Then work hard to get your team past their own agendas, listening well to offer real solutions that meet the need. If it’s ever more about the sales guy than the customer, you’re sunk. You can’t fake confident humility.

4. Building Genuine Connection

People don’t do business with businesses, they do business with human beings. Encourage your team to slow down and learn about the people they’re working with. Then stay connected by remaining interested. “How did your daughter do in that game?” “How was your trip?” “Is your wife feeling any better?”

5. Staying Patient

Yes, I know that most B2B sales take at least seven touch-points before the decision maker takes action. Of course your best sales people stay hungry. But no one wants to be rushed into a decision. Customers appreciate being given the space to make the right decision.

6. Giving Generously

Almost every day I get asked, “If you keep giving away all this free content why would any one ever hire you?” Sure there are companies that will take your free ______ (trial, consulting, white paper) and run. But those aren’t the clients you want to work with in the long run. Teach your sales team to give generously and add value above all else. It might take some time, but your company will be top of mind when they’re (and others they know) are ready.

In an era where almost anything can be bought with one click, if your customer wants to talk to a human, be sure they’re a good one.

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


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