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How You Sell Is More Important Than What You Sell

25 Mar 2022

How many leaders feel with 100% certainty that their sales teams have the right sales structure, process, systems, beliefs and skills to deliver this year’s sales plan?

How many leaders feel with 75% certainty that their sales teams have the sales effectiveness to deliver this year’s sales plan?

When CSO Insights surveyed sales leaders, they found that only 16% of them felt their teams had the right skills to effectively deliver their sales plans.

I see a similar phenomenon working with clients, particularly with Built World clients that are driving to increase sales more than 10% year over year.

This isn’t surprising, given that less than 50% of sales teams receive any formal sales skills training. This results in a sales skills gap that we frequently observe when assessing sales teams.

The Sales Skills Gap

 Some of the common skills gaps we see in Built World sales teams include:

  • Discovery and qualifying
  • Prospecting
  • Consultative selling
  • Value Selling
  • Closing
  • Negotiating

When we conduct “voice of the customer” research for our clients, we also uncover the following missing sales skills:

  • Listening skills
  • Talking too much
  • Pitching too early
  • Negotiations feel win-lose
  • Poor or no business acumen

A common question that comes up is:

“Why is it so hard for my salespeople to book meetings with customers?”

The answer is simple:

“Because too many salespeople are untrained and behave badly!”

The Skills Your Salespeople Need

 What do your busters want and need today?

They want business consultants masquerading as salespoople.

Buyers want salespeople who have industry insights and share things they can’t easily find on the company website. They need sales reps to evolve into trusted advisors.

What skills do top performing trusted advisors have in common?

  • The will to sell
  • High figure-it-out factor
  • Resilience
  • Comfort when talking about money
  • A greater need to be respected than liked
  • Business acumen
  • The ability to speak the customer’s language

The New Roles for Salespeople

 Where we used to be able to divide salespeople into Hunters and Farmers, we now need four categories:


 These salespeople are constantly searching for new customers and closing their business.


 This highly skilled role is singularly focused on gaining a greater share of wallet with key accounts.


 This new sales role emerged in response to digital marketing and social selling. Their focus is reeling in the customers who engage with content marketing or reach out for assistance. They need to be skilled at having the kinds of conversations that lead to revenue. They also need strong qualifying skills to know when to cut bait.


This role arose during the pandemic. If any of your salespeople fall in this category, it’s a cause for concern. Babysitters don’t sell products or services. They are focused on “keeping the customer happy at all costs” – to the point where you’ll wonder if they work for you or for your customers. Our assessment tool indicated that 60% of face-to-face salespeople struggled to adapt to a virtual hybrid sales model and many of them have become babysitters as a result.

Do You Really Need More Salespeople?

 Do you have the right people in the right roles? Do they have the skills they need to sell successfully today?

Or are you paying for babysitters who aren’t delivering the returns you expect from your investment in them?

In a recent sales effectiveness assessment, we discovered that 26% of the company’s sales team were babysitters and should not be in a sales quota carrying role.

Many leaders are struggling to find more salespeople.

But many of them don’t actually need more salespeople.

Ask yourself if you really need more salespeople? Or do you need to improve the effectiveness of your current sales team instead?

Over 60% of CEO’s surveyed report that they have adjusted post-pandemic.

When we assess a team’s sales skills, beliefs, motivations, systems and processes we can determine if they need training and coaching.

If you would like to be able to raise your hand high when asked if your sales team will deliver the sales plan you promised your stakeholders, I recommend doing the following:

  1. Assess sales skills by role
  2. Capture the voice of your customers
  3. Invest in sales skills training and coaching to close skills gaps.