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As a sales manager, you are responsible for developing and leading your team to success. One of the critical factors in sales performance is selling value. Being able to sell value means that sales teams can steer the conversation away from price.
But what specific competencies are required to help your reps sell value effectively?
This article will outline the skills sales managers need to do just that. We will also cover how salespeople can do their part to maintain margins and even increase the profitability of their accounts.
With inflation on the rise, do you find it even more difficult to hold firm on price and sell value? If you answer ‘yes’, make sure to watch our special webinar “How B2B companies can get pricing and selling right as inflation rises.”
Sales management competencies required to sell value
Sales managers need three types of skills to maintain or increase margins: the will to manage sales teams, the appropriate sales management DNA, sales management skills, and selling competencies per se.
1. The will to manage sales teams
We consider the will to manage sales teams as a given and assume you are committed to succeeding in your role.
If you lack the will or commitment to manage sales, this article won’t help you. Profitability may not even be your most pressing problem because you are probably struggling with many other aspects of your role.
2. Supportive sales management DNA
Sales management DNA is invaluable to a company’s success and its future. A sales manager’s DNA dictates their leadership style, sales approach, and decision-making abilities. It also plays an important role in managing the sales pipeline and achieving their goals.
DNA is part of you and can help or hinder your success, depending on how it affects your performance. Changing that DNA takes intentional action and personal work.
Four elements of your DNA could jeopardize or sabotage your sales management skills and your ability to help your team sell value.
Need for approval
If you try to please your sales reps or avoid all conflict with clients, you will tend to reduce prices or offer discounts quickly when a client complains about pricing. This need for approval requires reprogramming to make you effective as a sales manager. Yes, you should be respected, but you don’t need to be liked or appreciated. It’s not something you should seek from your team or your clients.
You could have problems coaching your salespeople if you shop around for the lowest price, or you like to think things over before making a purchase. You cannot teach them how to deal with put-offs or clients who want to delay a decision. If a client requests a discount, you will be more willing to accept because of your buying habits. That’s what you would do.
Staying in the moment
If you face an objection and start listening to your inner voice, you will miss part of the conversation with your sales rep or a major client. Instead of listening to them, you try to look for an opening so you can say something. You prepare your next argument or think of the next question to ask. During that time, you may miss some crucial information. Selling is about listening; you must be in the moment to do it effectively.
Comfortable talking about money
You can’t coach your salespeople to be better at the money conversation if you aren’t at ease with it yourself. You can talk about money more easily when you are good at selling value, which puts you in a better position to maintain your margins and increase your pricing.
3. Sales management skills
Sales management DNA is internal and manifests in how you apply your skills to your sales team. These are skills you can learn as a sales manager. A positive DNA will make it easier for you to use these skills effectively.
Your coaching skills will have a considerable impact on your sales team’s effectiveness.
From understanding the sales process to asking the right questions at the right time, your ability to coach your sales reps will drive their success. You also need to coach them on selling value since most sales reps have been taught to sell at any cost—the opposite of value selling.
You should allocate 50% of your time to coaching your staff. If you can’t meet that ratio, you’ll have less time to get the same results. Level up your coaching skills so each session is focused, pragmatic, and actionable.
With the appropriate coaching, your sales reps will have the tools to help clients see the value in maintaining the relationship with your company—and continue sending orders.
To maintain profitability, goals and objectives must align with your margins. Accountability is your ability to hold your salespeople accountable for activities and results.
If you cannot make sales reps commit to focusing on key sales activities to reach your goals, you will have trouble selling value. So you need the skills to establish accountability, get a commitment from your team, and come back to these commitments on a regular basis.
Your sales process is the number one tool at your disposal to reach your sales goals. You should reinforce the importance of adhering to it every time you have coaching sessions with your salespeople.
If you use a consultative selling approach, it will help ensure the clients see the value in the sale because they are the ones who tell you that value. The sales process allows you to maintain profitability by helping your sales team qualify clients while ensuring that pricing is not the primary buying criteria.
4. Outstanding sales skills
Sales skills are also required for sales managers because if you don’t have them, how can you coach your people?
Consultative selling competency
Let’s start with consultative selling. When sales reps are on a discovery call or handling a difficult situation with a client, they need to avoid making statements. Instead, they should ask questions that make the client reveal the value they get from doing business with your company. You can become an avatar for your sales reps by demonstrating your ability to ask questions when speaking to them.
Value selling competency
Another essential skill is knowing how to sell value. You don’t tell clients why there is value in doing business with you. The clients tell you why doing business with you is so valuable to them.
In addition, you coach your sales reps on how to show clients your value proposition. Selling value is never about the price; it’s about the benefits and outcomes. If the value to the client is high enough, price is not an issue.
You also need excellent qualifying skills to teach your sales reps how to go from second to third base (in baseline selling terms). If your sales team doesn’t qualify leads adequately, they will waste a lot of time trying to sell to people who aren’t ready or willing to buy.
Sales closing competency
Finally, you need closing skills. Closing is the capacity to increase the client’s sense of urgency. You should build that same sense of urgency with your sales reps.
Competencies sales reps need to sell value
The competencies required for a sales rep are similar to those of a sales manager. It starts with the sales DNA.
You have to correct or reprogram weaknesses around the need for approval, buying habits, being in the moment, and talking about money. If you don’t address these weaknesses, it will jeopardize your sales skills and cause issues throughout the sales process.
The major difference between sales reps’ competencies and sales managers’ competencies revolve around management skills. Sales reps don’t require them—unless they want to move into a sales management role.
However, when it comes to sales skills—consultative selling, selling value, qualifying, the sales process, and closing—they are critical to protecting your margins and increasing your accounts’ profitability.
Where to start?
Yes, there are a lot of sales competencies to master to sell value! You need to be strong in all of them to maintain or increase profitability.
With so much to address, what is the best approach to get results?
Skills before DNA
You can teach and coach sales skills pretty easily, so start there. Sales DNA is tougher to change and improve and must be supported by coaching from the sales manager.
Even if you coach and train your sales reps on the technical aspects of sales, weaknesses in sales DNA will prevent them from executing correctly on the field. That’s why you need to work on skills and DNA, at all times.
Small, consistent steps
It might seem overwhelming at first to see that all these competencies need to be reinforced all the time. But what we know and have seen in our daily practice is that working on small chunks at a time works.
Start with critical competencies by providing the appropriate coaching, follow-up, and help. People learn by doing. When salespeople execute their sales process after being well-coached, we see fast and impressive results.
How to identify competencies, strengths, and weaknesses?
Without a proper evaluation of sales and sales management competencies, it’s nearly impossible to determine where you’re objectively strong. The same is true for weaknesses.
You can establish a short-term action plan where you identify two or three elements to work on first. Once your sales team becomes proficient in those elements, you raise the bar.
Value, not price, is the best way to increase profitability in sales. If you struggle to sell value to your clients, call us. We can help.
If you’re feeling increased pressure in your business because of rising inflation, register today for our special webinar on “How B2B companies can get pricing and selling right as inflation rises.”