Why upskill your sales team? If we’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s that the entire company — not just technical employees — must adapt to new tools and ways of working. 

McKinsey found that 70–80% of B2B decision-makers prefer remote human interactions or digital self-service over face-to-face meetings. In fact, 65% of these decision-makers say that the remote model is just as good as (or even better than) what they were doing before the pandemic.

But the learning is far from over. A recent report from McKinsey partners says it’s time to double down on learning and commit to reskilling. 

“Although many employees ‘learned by doing’ during the first phase of the crisis or received ‘quick and dirty’ training, continued remote working will probably keep posing an upskilling challenge,” the report says. “For example, sales forces will have to shift from setting up video meetings to managing customer relationships effectively in remote settings.” 

Let’s explore some of the ways you can set your sales team up for success.

Get everyone in the right mindset for sustained success

Whether you’re onboarding new hires or refreshing the techniques of your more seasoned team members, the right mindset is key to sales success. Sales expert and Udemy for Business instructor Kevin Dorsey breaks mindset into four categories: 

  1. Goal-setting: “Without goals, you’re just going to wander,” says Kevin. He recommends thinking about goals in two categories. Process goals are the small steps you take (like gaining more confidence on the phone) that help you achieve your larger product goals (like hitting your quarterly target).
  1. Confidence: “Confidence comes from preparation and repetition,” Kevin explains. The problem is that most salespeople try to build confidence by practicing on prospects. Instead, Kevin recommends salespeople become experts in their field and learn everything they can about sales and psychology. This deep knowledge translates to confidence once in front of a prospect.
  1. Fear reduction: The cause of most fear in salespeople is concern about themselves. How will they look? How might they mess up? Will they lose their commission? Before their next call, encourage your sales team to take a moment for mindfulness. It can be anything from a breathing or visualization exercise to a brief meditation. “By lowering our fear before a demo, it improves our EQ, it improves our listening, it improves our creativity. All of which are necessary to be a world-class seller,” Kevin says. 
  1. Math of sales: There are several key metrics that salespeople need to know inside and out. These include close rate, average contract value (ACV), show rate, and pipeline volume and value. Salespeople should be able to make quick calculations based on these numbers. For example, if a salesperson has a goal of $100k, they need to calculate how many demos they need to run to get there. “Know your numbers,” Kevin says. “That is what the best of the best do. Because you’ll find not only where you can improve, but also knowing exactly what you need to to get there.”

Even in a remote environment, these skills can be taught and improved virtually. 

Account executive taking sales training courses

Empower your people to build meaningful relationships with customers

Sales pros need to obsessively know their buyer in order to prospect and close deals. What are their pain points? How does your product help? Asking the right questions and employing active listening are essential to sales success. And when conversations are taking place virtually, listening becomes even more important.

“The number one reason why most salespeople don’t succeed is because they don’t actually understand their buyer,” says Kevin. The best way to overcome this? By learning as much as you possibly can about your buyer. Kevin recommends a tool called The Buyer’s Matrix by Jill Konrath. This is a set of questions designed to get at prospects’ pain points and motivation.

Sales leaders should empower their team members to conduct these interviews with customers or prospects. Provide a list of recommended questions or talking points. Ask more senior salespeople to share what they’ve learned from these conversations. Show your team that investing in their customer knowledge today will help them close more deals tomorrow.

Never miss an opportunity to strengthen negotiation skills 

The market is always changing and skilled salespeople recognize this. This is why seasoned sales leaders never stop improving their negotiation skills. They stay curious and open to learning. 

Kevin sees the pitch as an opportunity to educate the prospect. “Oftentimes as a salesperson, you actually know more about how other people do things than the prospect. They know their world. You know the entire landscape.” 

The pitch is all about educating and engaging your buyer. This can happen in a virtual setting, but it may require extra practice to make the most of technology and not let it get in the way.

Prepare your sales team to tackle tomorrow’s challenges

We can’t ignore the changing nature of the workplace. Especially if we want to give our sales teams the skills they need to win in this new environment. 

Luckily, many of the keys to sales success — having the right mindset, building relationships with customers, and strengthening negotiation skills — can be learned and practiced in an online setting

Want to help your sales team develop these essential skills? Connect with one of our experts to learn how Udemy for Business and virtual sales training courses can help teams reach their goals.