Published on May 8, 2023
Successful sales teams understand that nuances within the customer journey are different for every customer. Some deals have multiple buyers where each buyer has their unique needs and preferences.
Your company can grow rapidly if you effectively map out the choices your buyers make along their journey and equip your sales team with a selling methodology that aligns with each decision point.
You should always be reviewing your sales performance to uncover areas of improvement that drive revenue growth.
If your team is not engaging as strategically as you'd like with your customers, then you need to help them evolve. Merely filling orders is very different from being a consultative partner to your customers.
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Continue reading this article to explore:
How the Customer Journey reveals what sales skills are needed
Methods to uncover sales skills competency gaps within your team
Corrective action to fill-in and optimize critical sales skills
How the Customer Journey reveals sales skill requirements
The journey a customer goes through to make a purchase is composed of several stages. From their first interaction with your brand to the reasons they continue to choose you over your competition.
Each stage of the process presents different challenges and requires distinct skills from your sales team.
For instance, in the first awareness stage of the customer journey, a prospect is typically looking for advice related to a problem they are looking to solve.
They are just becoming aware of the existence of your company and its products or services. They may not even know what it is that you offer exactly.
This is the time when your sellers must be excellent at needs discovery to usher the prospect into the consideration stage. They do this by being effective at swiftly aligning your value proposition to what resonates most with the prospect based on their unique needs.
As your customer progresses to the Retention/Growth stage in their journey, entirely different sales skills are needed.
Your salespeople need the ability to foster long-term relationships with each potential buyer within their accounts, anticipate their needs, and provide excellent customer service.
This stage requires a high level of emotional intelligence and customer-centric thinking. A friendly order-taker may be able to deliver customer satisfaction at a transactional level, but that elementary engagement tends to leave opportunities to grow your customer base on the table.
I specialize in uncovering sales skills gaps in my Fractional Sales Leadership practice because it is critical to my clients’ success. By better defining your customers’ journey, you can identify the specific sales skills needed to succeed at each stage. This allows you to provide targeted training, coaching, and enablement tools that drive performance to the next level.
How to uncover sales skills competency gaps in your team
One effective method to uncover sales competency gaps is to develop a sales skills assessment form. The assessment should include a complete inventory list of all sales skills needed to optimally navigate each stage of the customer’s journey.
To gain an unbiased picture between how the seller views themselves versus their manager’s point of view, it is ideal for the salesperson to fill out the form as a self-assessment exercise.
Without gleaning from the seller’s perspective, the manager should assess each of their sellers after having spent ample time observing them in action.
From there, a productive mentoring conversation can occur with the goal to form an agreement on the seller’s top areas of strength and the areas needing development.
These new insights should feed directly into each salesperson’s quarterly review cadence.
If your sales review process isn’t already woven into your sales leadership approach, you’ll likely find my previous article helpful, “How to Design a High-Impact Sales Review Process”.
By creating a standardized sales skill assessment form, you can ensure that all salespeople are evaluated using the same criteria. This makes it easier to identify gaps in sales skills to pinpoint what types of targeted training or coaching are needed.
Corrective action to close sales skill gaps
A competent and well-positioned sales organization is crucial to achieving success. You need to have a plan in place that ensures you can identify skill gaps and act quickly to close them.
The goal of this exercise isn’t to create better job descriptions or figure out which sales reps to let go.
The objective is to make sure you have a customer-centric approach, and your team is structured to help you attract new customers and retain them.
Depending on your sales skill inventory and the makeup of your sales organization, you likely have three primary focus areas for taking corrective action:
Create individualized development plans – The first area I typically find has room for improvement is the quarterly review cadence for each salesperson on the team. I mentioned this earlier but it’s worth calling out again. Getting this process off the ground takes time and quarterly guidance, but it yields significant results when gaps are properly identified and focused on.
Restructure your sales organization - Sometimes skill gaps reveal a salesperson isn’t the right fit for their role. By moving them to a new role that is well suited to their strengths, you can make sure every step of the customer’s journey is covered. This can help you optimize your team's performance and improve your overall sales results.
Improve your training and coaching process – Specialized sales training is fundamental to ensure your team is properly prepared and customer-focused. Training alone isn’t enough, though. The complement of real-world sales coaching is what brings it all together. This is why it’s essential that sales leaders spend ample time in the trenches with their salespeople coaching in real-world situations.
The customer journey is your guide when it comes to identifying the sales skills your company needs to reach “next level” revenue goals.
By understanding the demands of each stage of the customer journey, you can provide targeted training and support to improve your team's performance. With the right corrective actions in place, you can ensure that your talent assets are positioned for high performance and capable of maximizing all the opportunities on the table.
If you need help identifying skills gaps within your sales team or would like to learn more about how a fractional sales leader can help you achieve your business goals, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our Contact Us form.
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