10 Ways to Improve Your Sales Skills

Last Wednesday I posted an article about why sales people need to improve and upgrade their sales skills. Afterwards, I realized that I failed to provide insight on how to accomplish this. So, here are ten ways you can improve your sales skills.

Attend training programs.
The traditional classroom approach to training is still the most effective way to learn new skills and many sales trainers offer public programs from time-to-time. However, if you can’t afford this approach (time or money) you can learn new skills via teleseminars and webinars. Most of these programs focus on one concept or topic and many offer valuable information. On the negative side, there are many programs that are only a thinly-veiled attempt to get you to buy a product or service. Therefore, it makes sense to do your homework before you register for a program of this nature.

Read books, newsletters, magazines and blogs.
I know, you haven’t read a book since you graduated from college or university. However, many of the top performers I encounter in my work are avid readers. Even if you only read one book every month and apply the concepts from that book into your daily, you will notice results.

Listen to audio programs.
This is a great way to learn new concepts or reinforce existing information while you commute. Windshield time can be boring and listening to an audio program in between appointments can not only improve your skills, it can make time go by more quickly.

Resist the temptation to say, “I know that.”
I admit to being guilty of stating those words when I have read or heard something related to selling. However, further introspection often reveals that I have not actually applied that concept into my business. When you catch yourself responding like that, question whether you fully utilize that idea in your own sales approach.

Set aside the time and budget.
Personal development takes time which means you need to schedule it. Block time into your calendar and treat that session like an appointment with a high-level prospect. Personal development also requires an investment. I once read that top performers invest a specific percentage of their income to improve their skills. Determine what you are prepared to invest in your future and allocate those funds as necessary.

Ask prospects for insight.
We have all lost deals that we thought were in the bag. In those situations, take the time to contact your prospect (or existing customer) and ask them how you could have improved your approach. Be honest. Tell them that you want to learn and improve your approach in the future and ask, “What could I have done differently?” You may not always get a response, but you have absolutely nothing to lose.

Watch your key competitors.
If you know your competition, watch them to see what they do differently. Peruse their website, read their newsletters, visit their booth at a trade show, and observe how they deal with their prospects and customers.

Talk to the top performers in your company.
Most sales people watch top performers in their company and wonder how they achieve such success. However, very few take the initiative to talk to those top performing reps and discover their secrets. Summon up the courage and invite a top performer from your company to lunch. Be clear with your motives by telling them that you want to learn from them.

Set a goal to learn one new technique every week.
Many people try to incorporate several new strategies into their approach at one time. However, this usually results in diluted efforts and poor results. I recommend that you focus on implementing just one new technique in a given week. Practise applying this concept as often as you can and evaluate your progress.

Evaluate yourself.
One of the most effective ways to improve your sales ability is to ask yourself these three questions after every sales conversation.

What did I do well?
What did I miss or forget to do?
What will I do differently next time?

Record the details of your call or meeting as well as your responses so you can review them periodically.

There you have it. Ten ways you can improve your sales skills. Incorporate these ideas into your daily and weekly routine and you will notice a difference in your results.