Constantly hiring new sales reps is a costly game. You have to factor recruitment, training, and job advertisements into your expenses. But there's a simple way to solve that problem. Think quality team over quantity.

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Sales teams that don't have the right talent needed for the job can't perform their tasks efficiently. Thus, affecting the company's revenue. However, with the right skills development plan, you won't have to fire anyone on your team, nor will you shell out a lot of money to hire top talent.

Some of your employees might be passionate about their work but need to enhance their sales skills. Give those people a chance to turn their weaknesses into strengths that will help them advance in their careers. After all, investing in your employees is part of investing in your company.

Common skill gaps in sales teams

Not everyone in your sales team is a top performer. Some might know what they're doing, but their skills need reinforcement to overachieve in their role.

As new technology and sales strategies would arise, even high-achieving team members still require some training to keep your revenue stream flowing. So, it's important to find opportunities to train and upskill your sales team.

To observe your team better, check out these common skill gaps in sales teams:

  • Negotiation

Without negotiation skills, clients and customers can easily strong-arm your sales team. But with a strategic negotiation, they can find a way to come up with better end results for both parties.

  • Upselling

Many sales reps undervalue upselling because it's not their main priority, or they fear rejection. However, it's a sales tactic to convince customers to buy add-ons or a better version of what they're purchasing.

  • Listening

Only a few people in sales know how to save time and frustration by listening intently to their customer's challenges. When they listen actively instead of hearing them out to pitch a sale, they can't meet the customer's needs halfway.

  • Empathy

A sales team that lacks empathy doesn't have the ability to turn a potential customer into a loyal one. But if they know how to prioritize their feelings, you don't have to worry about customer retention.

These sales skills mentioned above boost your team's confidence to provide customers with the best experience.

Career development is one of the things the workforce is looking for these days. So, putting their growth on top of your to-do list empowers them to produce the best KPI for your company.

How to close skill gaps in your sales team

The digital age is reshaping customers' needs and expectations. But only a few salespeople have the skills that companies expect them to have, and that's where the skill gap starts.

When there's a mismatch of talents and capabilities in the job requirement, people will find it hard to secure a job. At the same time, companies will also struggle to hire seasoned employees. So, the only viable answer to this problem is training employees to fill skill gaps.

Here's how you can close skill gaps in your sales team:

Take a complete inventory of their skills

A skills inventory lets you understand your sales team's capabilities and skill gaps. You can use this information to transform weaknesses into strengths and strengths into mastery. But you need to create a system to track their skills efficiently. You may either use a spreadsheet or skills management software to map their skills in one place.

Learning about your sales team's skills provides you with enough data to know what type of training they need. Apart from that, you may also see the following perks:

  • Retain employees longer
  • Better crisis management
  • Improved talent acquisition
  • Optimized work performance
  • Accurate succession planning

As your sales team continuously gains new skills and credentials over time, keep your database updated with their progress. It would be helpful to update your inventory every quarter so you won't lose track of their achievements.

Have regular employee assessments

Your company can determine how well your employees, not just in the sales department, do their duties through performance assessments. You can scope their skill gaps by giving them a platform to talk about their expectations, challenges, and achievements. As a result of putting their growth into a microscope, you'll know what type of training they need.

Employee performance evaluation can include the following:

  • Self-assessments where individual employees view their performance.
  • The traditional appraisal is where their lead sales manager evaluates their output and KPI.
  • Group evaluation is where a supervisor reviews the overall team and requests feedback from their peers.

You can establish employee assessments quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. By checking on your sales team regularly, you address areas for improvement and maximize their productivity.

Provide engaging skills training

Skills training is only useful when your sales team can retain and apply the things they've learned in a practical way. You can't expect your team to learn by burying their heads in a manual. So your goal is to make the workshop engaging enough that they'll participate.

Consider these ideas in your skills training:

  • Craft an exciting story based on your experience to provide context and reinforce key takeaways.
  • Have an open dialogue for discussion to brainstorm some possible solutions and gain insights from their perspective
  • If your workshop sessions are too long, time your breaks well or divide your training into parts.
  • Provide incentives like a certificate of completion or company recognition.
  • Utilize an eLearning platform so you can avail of courses anytime.

There are instances where you can invite a speaker or an industry expert to train your sales team. Asking a thought leader outside your company means your team can learn and grow by tapping into their expertise.

Identify sales skills needed in the future

No one can accurately determine future skills. So rather than reacting to changes, implement a process to identify what skills your sales team might need down the road. This will help you avoid any potential risk of falling behind your competitors.

As a leader, take the initiative to conduct your own research. Reach out to industry experts and ask their advice if you're unsure what the future holds for your company. Then act in advance by establishing a continuous method of identifying current skill gaps to predict future skills. This is where employee assessments come in handy. Finally, modify and create new roles in your organization.

Establish a learning culture

A learning culture centers on encouraging employees to realize their potential. It allows them to gain new skills while helping the company grow. When you embed this type of value in your organization early, you're laying the foundation for long-term success.

Your company can scale to greater heights when everyone in your sales team is aligned with your company goals, values, and mission. So as your business grows, so should your team.

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