Improving Rep Competency to Drive Confidence

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In today’s highly competitive business landscape, a sales team’s success heavily relies on the competency and confidence of its sellers. Sales competencies are the skills that contribute to a seller’s success. The competencies that are considered critical can vary across organizations, but some common competencies include foundational sales knowledge, time management, communication skills, and more. While possessing these core competencies does not necessarily guarantee success, they can be critical for being effective in day-to-day selling activities.

When sales reps are skilled and knowledgeable, they can enter customer conversations with more confidence, helping them to effectively engage customers and close deals. The hard truth is that without sales confidence, it’s unlikely that reps will meet their goals or satisfy the business’ most urgent needs. Knowing how to sell confidently – and how to teach the sales team these skills – is essential to building lasting relationships with customers and helping grow loyalty and retention.

Enablement can be a key driver in developing training and coaching that can improve the competency of sales reps. This can help plant the seeds of more confident reps and, ultimately, improve sales performance. Below, explore four key strategies to enhance sales rep competency that will empower them to excel with lasting impact.

Ongoing Training and Coaching Opportunities

Providing regular and targeted training is essential to ensure that sales reps stay updated with the latest industry trends, product knowledge, and sales techniques. Enablement can facilitate training programs and learning opportunities that enhance core skills such as communication, negotiation, objection handling, and relationship-building. These programs can be conducted through workshops, online modules, or mentorship programs. By continuously investing in their development, sales reps can build a strong foundation of expertise, enabling them to navigate any selling situation with confidence.

To reinforce that knowledge, pairing training programs with recurring coaching can help reps build upon the knowledge they’ve gained and execute those skills with newfound conviction. By effectively utilizing coaching post-training, it can provide a fail-safe environment for reps to practice their skills and gain confidence.

“From an enablement standpoint, we have a solution that lets our sales teams practice the story,” said Rebecca Reyes, vice president of sales enablement at IBM. “They hear first from a sales coach who will tell a story, then we have a forum and a practice for the sales teams to record their message, and then have SMEs ready to give feedback on the individual seller’s delivery of that message. Practice is a really big part of developing confidence. We want to make sure that we poke any holes possible before we get to meet with a client.”

Providing ongoing training and complementing it with coaching can help reps gain key competencies and feel confident in demonstrating them.

Encourage Peer Knowledge Sharing that Builds Competencies

Creating a culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration within the sales team is vital for enhancing competencies and building confidence. Encourage sales reps to share their successes, challenges, and lessons learned during team meetings or through internal communication channels.

“[Reps often say] they just like hearing from that person like them who is in a scenario like them, trying to solve the same problems that they are on a daily basis, who is actually doing really well at management,” said Cameron Tanner, senior director of global enablement at Cisco. “People want to hear from people that have achieved quota multiple years in a row, people want to hear from people who have been in the seat the longest, people who are the front runners that are getting results the quickest.”

While traditional training and e-learnings are still a crucial part of learning and development, peer-to-peer best practice sharing can complement more formal sessions with casual opportunities to share stories from the field. For example, after a training session, encourage reps to spend time reflecting with their teams and having discussions about what they’ve seen work – or not work – in customer conversations. By facilitating the exchange of ideas and best practices, sales reps can learn from each other, refine their strategies, and gain confidence from the collective wisdom of the team.

Foster a Growth Mindset for Ongoing Competency Improvement

Instilling a growth mindset within the sales team is key to driving continuous improvement and confidence. Emphasize that failure is an opportunity for learning and encourage reps to embrace challenges as chances to grow. Celebrate both individual and team successes, reinforcing the idea that improvement is achievable through effort and dedication. By cultivating a growth mindset, sales reps become resilient, open to feedback, and willing to step out of their comfort zones, ultimately boosting their confidence.

Ongoing learning and development doesn’t have to be a large, daunting task. Rephrase it as a daily habit; even spending five or ten minutes reading up on thought leadership in the industry can add up to significant learning over the course of just a few weeks. As reps develop daily habits that can build their selling confidence, the more likely they are to feel prepared entering a customer conversation.

“[It’s about] keeping promises to ourselves helps to build confidence in ourselves,” said Jeffrey Hatchell, vice president of U.S. field sales enablement and global leadership at American Express. “It’s not necessarily achieving the big, hairy, audacious goals, but it’s the small daily things that we’re doing that lead to the ultimate goals that start to build confidence.”

When sellers are focused on staying ahead of the curve and always finding new things to learn, they can feel confident that they can put their best foot forward during customer interactions.

Developing the competency of sales reps is a vital investment for any organization aiming to drive sales growth and success. By providing ongoing training, fostering collaboration and peer knowledge sharing, and cultivating a growth mindset, sales reps can gain the confidence needed to excel in their roles. As they become more competent, they will engage customers effectively, build strong relationships, and close deals with conviction. Empowered sales reps contribute to the organization’s success and become valuable brand ambassadors, influencing customer perception and loyalty.

“Confidence is a really important part of how we show up,” said Reyes. “It’s one thing to learn something, but it’s another to really have confidence in what it is that you learn.”

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