Sales skills are critical to many professionals’ success
Not all people that have to sell things are sales people. Some are craftsmen, others are creatives, solutions providers, developers, and so forth. Yet, we all have to sell ourselves, a product, or a service at some point, and fine tuning those skills can help you along the way.
To get the best tips, we asked Dustin Grosse for his insight – he’s the COO at ClearSlide and this Yale graduate has over 25 years of leadership experience, from his time as SVP/CMO at DocuSign to his eight years at Microsoft. He’s been involved in executive sales, marketing, and business development for years and knows the intricacies and nuances of sales more than most in the business world.
In his own words below, he offers six tips for sharpening your own skills, whether you’re a sales pro or just someone that needs to improve their ability to convey a product or service more effectively.
Grosse notes, “While luck has its place in the sales process, the silver bullet remains good, old-fashioned hard work to more successfully engage customers and prospects. Today’s salespeople can leverage professional social networks and sales engagement platforms to better research and prepare – in fact, gathering contextual information has never been easier.”
If a business coach is in the sales budget, steady coaching from an outside perspective has major benefits. Sales folks who are humble and recognize there is always room to improve their craft are the ones I see climb to the top time and time again.
To self-coach, examine how you’re doing on the job – look at your activity and customer engagement levels, map your day to give you time for planning, and even record sales pitches so you can hear what you sound like. Some of the top sellers I know regularly practice their pitches with their manager and peers.
2. Do the math
Don’t be afraid to add science to sales. Analyze your sales quota, and break down the activities that lead to deal closures. Start by compiling the number of deals you’ve closed in a given period, as well as the average deal value. Then, look at conversion rates and then figure out how many prospects you needed to pitch to make your plan.
Basically, create a formula to help you succeed. From a sales leader prospective, walk your team through that formula so that your team understands how to succeed and works smarter instead of harder. Here at ClearSlide, at the start of a quarter every seller and sales leader knows the activity levels they need to hit to succeed, as well as the monthly deal goals to ensure they stay on track.
3. Just be you and be an expert
Yes, customers and prospects appreciate genuineness and honesty in conversation. But also consider building your personal brand even outside of sales calls and meetings. Do more than just create a profile on LinkedIn. Showcase your expertise within your industry or vertical – participate in online forums, go to and speak at conferences, comment on blogs and articles, engage on Twitter and in LinkedIn groups, and more.
4. Put a face to your name
If a face-to-face meeting isn’t feasible, create a personalized video to grab your targets’ attention instead – think beyond phone calls. Studies show that including the word “video” in email subject lines will increase open rates by 60% and personalizing the video shows your commitment to reaching them.
5. Make order out of chaos
When working in a fast-paced environment, staying organized can make or break success. Both your workstation and your schedule should remain organized and manageable, removing outside distractions that might derail your focus. Consider prioritizing sales calls and meetings by time zone or even industry so you do not need to context-shift too often. Checking big projects off your list will provide the mood-boost needed to make it through the end of the day.
6. Forecast accurately with engagement
One of the key tools we use here at ClearSlide to better manage performance is a Sales Engagement Index. We see a correlation between engaged selling time – time spent interacting live with customers and customer engagement with content – and the ability to accurately forecast which deals are likely to close. Sellers who track their actual engagement are more precise and tend to know their accounts better, and sales leaders who manage to engagement are far better coaches and forecasters.