a successful salesperson practicing the essential sales skills for an effective sales pitch, sales process and more meaningful presentations

The Essential Sales Skills Your Team Needs Most in the Coming Year

Are you empowering your sales team to navigate the evolving distribution sales world? Here’s a closer look at what has changed and eight essential sales skills your team needs to be more profitable in the coming year.

What Are the Most Critical Sales Skills for High-Performing Teams?

Using Business Intelligence in Sales

 The modern digital customer journey brings big benefits for your sales team, allowing them to analyze your customers’ activities through business intelligence.

BI helps distributors uncover insights into customer buying trends, including top products by account and industry, or your customers’ orders. Sales reps can use these insights to identify the best opportunities to provide value by better personalizing their interactions.

BI helps your sales reps work smarter and faster to exceed sales goals by engaging in the right sales conversations at the right time.

Bottom line: Invest in a business intelligence solution that consolidates purchasing data, eCommerce sales, and offline sales activity into clear, actionable insights. 

Proactive Customer Relationship Management Using CRM Software 

The most effective sales reps today use CRM software to anticipate customers’ needs before they call. In a few clicks, they can see their customers’ online and offline purchasing history and recent communications from your team. They can use these insights to identify cross-sell and upsell opportunities and determine when they’re most likely to place their next order. 

From there, reps can assign follow-up tasks and set up automated email workflows to keep deals moving forward, giving them more time to have productive conversations with customers.

Of course, relationship building isn’t just for sales reps. Everyone who interacts with current and potential customers should be able to quickly find this information and see top priorities at a glance.

Bottom line: Choose a CRM and BI solution that is easy for your entire customer-facing team to use, and establish an internal sales process that will empower them to be more proactive with every interaction. 

Building More Profitable Relationships With Consultative Selling 

Consultative selling is one of the most highly valued sales skills today. This approach focuses on building trust, using active listening, and providing value in customer conversations. 

When a sales professional asks good questions to understand customers’ needs before pitching a product or service, it leads to more authentic conversations and more profitable, long-term relationships. 

Bottom line: Any training you do in the coming year should include emotional intelligence, building relationships, and objection handling. Building rapport is an essential sales skill that isn’t going away anytime soon.


Developing Deep Product Knowledge

Half of all B2B buyers have done enough research to identify the right solutions before they ever reach out to a sales rep, according to research from CSO Insights. With more information available to customers than ever before, a deep understanding of how your products and services meet customers’ specific needs is an extremely important sales skill.

Encourage each sales rep to identify common problems and pain points by asking questions about what keeps them up at night and what they would change about their business if they could. 

Through targeted questions, every sales rep can deepen their knowledge of product-solution fit, and customers are more likely to keep the dialogue going.

Bottom line: Sales reps who position themselves as knowledgeable stand out by offering holistic, creative solutions to customer problems.

Pricing for Profitability

For many distributors, the Pareto principle applies to pricing, where 20 percent of their customers make up 80 percent of their profits. This makes a good pricing strategy crucial to sales success. Once you’ve set a strategy, it’s important to train your many sales reps to know when it’s appropriate to negotiate pricing or offer discounts to certain customers (and when they need to hold the line or increase prices).

This approach needs to be data-driven, based on a customer’s payment history, estimated profitability of the products, and other factors. Intelligent pricing can boost gross profits by four percent or more, so it’s among the most important sales skills for today’s distribution reps.  

Bottom line: To create sustainable sales growth, support your sales reps with the data to provide the right pricing for each customer. Pricing software can help your team identify your most profitable customers and make data-driven decisions to protect profit margins. 

Collaborating With Marketing on Lead Generation for Sales

Marketers are eager for information gleaned from consultative sales calls, as well as trending data your team uncovers from top-performing products. When this information fuels future lead-generation campaigns, the whole company wins.

Consider regular collaboration meetings with marketing, especially for campaign debriefs. Together, you can identify the best accounts to target in the future.

Technology makes it seamless for both teams to track and follow up with incoming leads. 

White Cup CRM provides new lead notifications in real-time, so sales professionals can call leads within minutes and convert them to customers eight times more often. 

Bottom line: To increase your likelihood of attracting high-quality leads and drive revenue, partner with the marketing team on the lead generation process.

Optimizing eCommerce Sales 

Online sales now account for 20 percent of sales for distributors, according to Distribution Strategy Group founder Ian Heller. 

Your sales reps may not be leading the charge when it comes to eCommerce, but they should be part of the overall strategy. A siloed approach to offline sales and online sales leads to missed opportunities for both channels. Your salespeople should be able to use data from your website, including completed and attempted purchases, for each sales call to drive more relevant conversations with customers.

That might include calling customers to see if they have questions about an item they added to their cart, or sending follow-up emails recommending products related to something they recently purchased. 

Bottom line: As online sales become a bigger part of your bottom line, an integration between your CRM and eCommerce platform is critical. And it’s just as important to train your sales reps on how to use the valuable data available in your sales tools. 

Using Artificial Intelligence To Improve Sales Efficiency and Time Management

A CRM supports sales pipeline management and supercharges your team’s efficiency by automating manual tasks, such as remembering to send multiple emails following up with every open deal. Artificial intelligence further accelerates productivity and assists with time management. Understanding this technology and when and how to use it in your sales process will be one of the most in-demand sales skills in the future. Considering using AI to: 

  • Automate data entry to speed up order fulfillment
  • Write initial email drafts 
  • Improve forecasting by identifying trends based on historical data

Bottom line: AI doesn’t replace your sales force, but it does give your team a time-saving advantage and better insight into customer needs so they can focus on the big sales pitch and meaningful relationships.

Level Up Your Team’s Sales Skills With White Cup 

With White Cup CRM and BI, every sales rep can see everything they need to know about a customer so they can take a more consultative approach to selling. They can manage sales forecasts, create and track marketing campaigns, and use other automated workflows built for distributors for more effective time management and actionable insights that turn more leads into closed deals.

See why more than 850 companies trust White Cup as the best CRM for distributors. Schedule a free consultation today.

Written By

Lane Bauldry

Lane Bauldry

Vice President of Sales, White Cup

Lane Bauldry has over 20 years of enterprise software sales and leadership experience and over 10 years of experience in the distribution industry at Oracle, Epicor and Peoplesoft.​ Prior to White Cup, Lane was in the Distribution group at Infor for 3 years.

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