How to Build a Competent Sales Team

For sales coaches and managers, there are often major challenges in understanding what it takes to build a competent sales team, and knowing what to do to get there. We developed a model that divides key sales skills and knowledge into three categories, each with a few sub-categories. For sales representatives to be considered effective, they must have:

  • Product knowledge, which includes awareness of:
    • Features and benefits
    • Product applications
    • Resources available
    • Competition
  • Knowledge of selling skills and sales process, including awareness of:
    • Sales call skills
    • Relationship building, and
    • Sales process
  • Customer knowledge, including awareness of:
    • The business or industry in which customers operate
    • The customer’s organization itself
    • The function in which the customer works
    • And the customer’s own job

These skills and knowledge competencies are summarized in the following diagram used in our Professional Sales Coaching program:

Coaching Issues Diagram

Author and lecturer Marilyn vos Savant, also known for her remarkably high IQ, is quoted as saying, “To acquire knowledge, one must study, but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.” In order to help a team member gain competence and knowledge in the above areas, sales coaches should:

  • Evaluate sales calls
  • Identify performance gaps
  • Build career development plans for sales reps
  • Determine team gaps and where to invest resources
  • Facilitate coaching sessions for under-performers, and for superstars

It’s also good to remember that sales leaders should consider their responsibilities within three areas:

  • As a strategist, the sales manager should establish a vision for long-term growth, manage channels and resources.
  • As a communicator, the sales leader should be responsible for communicating key information between executives and frontline salespeople.
  • As a coach, the sales manager must build teams, develop and motivate individual sales representatives, remembering skill steps for giving recognition, including:
    • Describing positive behavior
    • Describing positive impact.
    • Offering appropriate thanks.
Posted in Sales Recruitment, Sales Team

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