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5 learnable skills for the new economy
These are must-haves for sales reps and those that manage them
Sales reps require reinvention in order to stay relevant. Like certain pop stars—The Beatles and Madonna come to mind—successful salespeople evolve. This could mean fine tuning their presentation style or honing certain timeless traits. One’s market awareness must be constantly revised in light of changing tastes. Still, it’s better to develop a toolkit of skills that will allow you to adapt with the new economy. These skills, rather than product trivia, are often what need updating. After all, the ability to quickly find a payphone prior to order board cutoff is no longer in high demand.1 This brave, new world requires these five, learnable skills that will help you level up your sales:
Social Media Literacy
In late-stage capitalism, a fate worse than death is invisibility. For a brand or person, the shortest path to the latter is through social media ineptitude. Think of it as irrelevance by way of incompetence.
Contrary to the belief that you’re selling yourself, social media for salespeople is way of reminding others—your customers and your company—you exist. You more you “exist,” the easier your job will become.2 Mark S. Granovetter’s 1973 hypothesis on weak social ties might go a long way in explaining why likes, followers, and shares resonate and reverberate into sales.
You should know the difference between pallet and palate.3 You should be able to express yourself clearly. You should be able edit your company’s marketing blast so that it’s in your own voice. If you’re not actually talking with customer, you’re likely communicating with them via email or text. The ability to gain trust and respect by sounding authoritative is key.
How do you get better at writing? Read good authors. Write every day. Don’t like writing? Too bad. It’s a muscle that must be worked.
As William Faulkner once quipped, “I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes at nine every morning.”
Read everything you write out loud. Change what doesn’t sound right. You can almost always edit at least 10%. Make every word work.
Every sales rep needs to know how to manage their own time so they can be respectful of their customers’ time. Being organized is of utmost importance because this isn’t a business with cookie-cutter clients. Planning helps you deliver and delivering pays dividends.
If you’re an executive or sale manager and you aren’t implementing agile sales it’s time you begin educating yourself. Your company, your salespeople, and your customers deserve it. It is time wine and spirit distribution learned something from the tech industry.
If someone speaks another language, they will taste and talk of things you could never know. Download Duolingo and start learning.
Reps need to be able to make their own simple graphics just like they’re expected to be able to carry 40 pounds. Salespeople need to know how to crop images, add text, and make collages. Photoshop Express is free and has just about all of the functionality that a rep could want. Level up your graphic design skills and never have to wait for anyone else to get back to you with that image you need.
Sales rep obsolescence is real. Sadly, obsolete wine and spirit reps don’t usually fade away, they just become sales managers. This, in turn, means they just end up reinforcing their dated, ineffective views on up-and-coming sales reps.
According to SBI, sales reps (in any industry) with 5000+ LinkedIn connections have a 98% chance of attaining quota.
Of course, this is to say nothing of palette. Knowing these distinctions are the wine and spirit equivalent of saying that a potential online suitor should know the difference between your and you’re or their, there, and they’re. These are the table stakes for getting customers to swipe right on a new product.