The Definitive Guide to Creating a Sales Manual in 2022

Before we jump into a step-by-step outline on how to create a sales manual, let’s answer a few questions you might be asking.

What size of company or sales team needs a sales manual?

The short answer is that all teams need a sales manual. Even if you only have one rep with a few simple processes, you need a written handbook documenting those steps. For growing businesses and those with larger sales teams or more complex sales cycles, having a detailed sales training document is even more vital.

Yes, gathering information and documenting your processes can be time-consuming. But by equipping your sales team with the tools they need, you’re setting your business up for success.

What essentials should I include in my sales training materials?

Your sales manual should be a one-stop-shop collecting every detail a sales rep needs to know, from their team structure and responsibilities, to how commissions are calculated and when they can expect to get paid.

We go into much more detail in the next section, but every sales manual should include:

  • Information about your business, structure, and key people to know.
  • Product information and your competition.
  • A detailed description of your targeting, prospecting, and sales processes.
  • Rep responsibilities, behavior expectations, and legal requirements.
  • How account ownership and dispute resolution is managed.
  • Training resources: scripts, playbooks, and tech platform use (VOIP, CRM).

What are the benefits of having a sales manual?

A great sales manual will fill three key functions:

  1. Sales knowledge — A sales rep’s knowledge is a key indicator of sales team success. A sales manual is the primary reference and training for all four types of sales knowledge: product, industry, customer, and sales process knowledge.
  2. Management efficiency — Without a single source of information and training, reps are forced to constantly ask management for information. This is inefficient for both sales managers and sales reps. Instead of answering the same questions over and over in a single-use format like emails or Slack, you can direct reps to your sales manual as the single source of truth.
  3. Enforcement — If reps can’t find (or remember) your rules and policies, they won’t follow them. By clearly defining their responsibilities and expected activities, you can hold them accountable.

As you can see, a well-written sales manual plays an essential role in your sales team. Now that you know why you need one, let’s walk step by step through everything you need to know about creating your own sales manual.

The Only Sales Manual Outline You’ll Ever Need

When writing your own sales manual it can be difficult to know where to start.

The good news is that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. By filling out each of the sections listed below, you’ll end up with a working document that’s detailed, holds exactly the information your reps need, and is already organized and ready to share with your team.

Let’s get started.

Intro: The Basics

This introductory section of your sales manual should include the “how” and “why” of your business. At minimum this should include a brief company overview and history, and your product overview and pricing.

You may already have this information elsewhere. If it’s easy to read and nicely formatted you may be able to include the image files or document links directly in your sales manual. If this info is detailed in a business plan or a company website, you may be able to copy and paste. Just remember to edit so that the information you include is clear, concise, and relevant.

Also, be sure to either paste the information into your sales manual document, or link directly to the website page or online file. Avoid linking to a folder that they’ll have to sort through to find what they need. If your sales reps find your sales manual isn’t helpful (even just once or twice) they won’t use it.

Team Structure

When your sales reps have a comprehensive understanding of how your sales team functions and how it fits into your organization as a whole, it’s easier for them to collaborate and work together efficiently. That’s why detailing your sales team structure and people to know is an important part of your sales manual.

The Team Structure section should include:

  • A hierarchy chart of your sales team’s structure.
  • Each team member’s name, responsibility, and contact information.
  • Key people to know at your company and when/how to engage them.

It’s also important to include the roles and contact information of non-sales team members who your reps will need to interact with. Some examples include personnel in human resources, information technology, and accounting.

The Competition

The better sales reps can relate to their prospects, the easier it is to sell to them. Good sales reps help prospects make a successful buying decision – even if that means your company isn’t a good fit. To do this, reps need to understand the full range of options available to your prospects, and how your company fits in this lineup.

Depending on your business specifics, the info you cover in this section may include:

  • Your company’s value proposition, competitive advantages, and strengths and weaknesses compared to others in your industry.
  • Your competitor’s strengths, weaknesses, pricing, and positioning.
  • Relevant (and up-to-date) market conditions or industry trends.

Be as detailed as you need to be, but still aim to keep the information clear and easy to understand. If you overwhelm your reps with unnecessary information, they’ll be more likely to miss the important points.

Rep Responsibilities

This section of your sales manual should detail three types of rep responsibilities: duties, quotas, and targets. Duties explain what to do, quotas say how often you need to do specific duties, and targets are goals typically rewarded with bonuses.

Ideally, the key activities reps need to accomplish will be tracked within your CRM, and your sales manual should include details on how to do so. Regardless, if there is something you want or expect your sales reps to do, it needs to be clearly defined in your sales manual.


Most good sales reps are in it for the money and really care about commission. Make sure you spend ample effort explaining commission terms as clearly as possible. It’s an important topic for sales reps, so you don’t want to be seen as brushing it aside or not explaining it well.

This section should be highly detailed, and should include:

  • How commissions are earned — For example, is it when a sale is made to a new customer, or once a new customer pays for a product?
  • When commissions are paid — Explain whether commission is paid monthly, on the 10th day of the month following the commission period, etc.
  • How commissions are calculated — For example, a 10% commission on total invoiced amount, 10% commission on net profit, etc., with an explanation of how overhead and “net” is calculated.
  • Example scenarios — Give several examples (with increasing complexity) that demonstrate how commission is earned, calculated, and paid.
  • Additional commission terms — When applicable, such as rollover clauses or commission adjustments.

Again, when it comes to compensation, it’s always best to be as specific as you can. Don’t fill this section with unnecessary fluff, but be sure to cover every single aspect that affects rep compensation. Transparency and specificity on this topic are extremely important.


Sales reps need to understand the target demographic and how to find usable contact information. This section gives them the tools they need to do so effectively. As with many other sections in your sales manual, this is going to be highly specific to your business and targeting process.

At the very least, this section should include who to target, who to avoid targeting, and how to source leads. Depending on the complexity of your targeting process, you may also need to add information on how to use a targeting tool or lead source properly, prompts for reps to come up with targeting strategy improvements, and (if some qualified prospects are more valuable than others) an explanation of the different tiers of ideal customers.


Along with targeting, your reps should know how to engage targeted leads.

Your Prospecting section should detail your strategy and process for reaching leads, and it should include the lead statuses that define a lead’s position in the prospecting process.

If applicable, you may also need to cover:

  • Details for the inbound prospecting process – goals, targets, conversion process, as well as templates and snippets for responding to inbound leads.
  • Details for the outbound prospecting process – goals, targets, and cadence and sequence for outreach to leads.

If you want new sales reps to be able to sell effectively, they need to understand how prospecting works in your company, field, or industry. Don’t leave this part of their skill set to chance.


How will your reps know who is worth sinking their time into? By defining your qualifying criteria and process in your sales manual, you’ll be answering this question for your reps.

The Qualifying section should explain both aspects of qualifying:

  • Qualifying criteria — What makes an opportunity qualified.
  • Qualifying process — How to properly qualify an opportunity.

In addition to the criteria and process for qualification, you should also explain what to do with leads once they’ve been qualified or de-qualified. These are usually pretty straightforward, such as creating a deal in the CRM and passing the baton to an Account Executive. But no matter what, they need to be explained in writing.

Sales Process

A sales process is a step-by-step process for turning interested prospects into customers. This is essential to creating a good sales manual, and should be explained as clearly as possible. The sales process begins after a lead has been generated from prospecting, or in some cases, once they’ve been qualified. This lead becomes a prospect and now enters the sales pipeline. The sales pipeline is a series of steps (deal stages) that need to happen in order for the prospect to complete the buying process.

A simple sales pipeline will almost always include a variation of the following stages:

  1. Qualified
  2. Negotiation
  3. Closed Won (Sale Complete)
  4. Closed Lost (No Sale)

Your sales process may look similar to the above, or it may be significantly more complicated. The best sales processes are highly customized to their company. Typically you’ll need more deal stages and more sales calls for complex and expensive products, as well as for deals with multiple decision makers or complex decision-making processes.

From there, explain your sales process and how each stage works.

  • Stage definition – Explanation of what it means for a deal to be in this stage. This may be as simple as repeating the stage name. For example: A contract has been sent to the prospect.
  • Stage activities – What tasks do we perform while a deal is in this stage? For example: Follow up with the prospect to remind them to sign the contract.
  • Goals – Every stage has a primary goal. Most have a secondary goal, and some have a tertiary goal. List these goals for each stage. For example: Receive a signed contract; Get prospect to commit to signing the contract by a specific date; Determine obstacle that’s preventing the contract from being signed.
  • Next action – After we’ve completed the Stage Activities above, what’s our next action? For example: Hand deal over to the customer success team once the contract has been signed.
  • Duration (optional) – How long should a deal remain in this stage? For example: A contract must be signed within 30 days.

Unless you already have a detailed sales process, this will probably be the most time-intensive part of creating your sales manual. But even if you need to adjust your sales pipeline and deal stages later on, defining your sales process in writing is a beneficial (and necessary) step.

Workflows and SOPs

Efficient and scalable businesses have efficient and scalable processes. The more these processes are automated, the better. But whenever a human (sales rep) is involved, the process needs to be written and easily accessible.

Here are some examples of processes to include in this section:

  • How to get set up on the required tech stack.
  • How to quote customers.
  • How to process an order.
  • How to update the CRM.
  • How to fill out forms or documents.
  • How to create an invoice or other documents.
  • How to explain our contract.
  • How to request PTO.

If these processes all have their own forms or documents then you don’t need to recreate them. List them all in this section with direct links to each file.

As you document each process, consider including:

  • Step-by-step instructions — Numeric, sequential instructions are much easier to follow than paragraphs of text.
  • Screenshots — Especially when describing how to use software or an app.
  • Flowcharts — For processes that differ depending on the situation or other variables.
  • Links — Rather than just mentioning the name of documents or forms and explaining where to find them, link directly to them.
  • Videos — For more complex processes, especially in apps or software, do a screen-record video showing the process step by step.

As a bonus, documenting your processes for your sales manual often leads to immediate improvements. Once processes are written down, problems and bottlenecks are often clear and impossible to ignore.

Account Ownership

These are rules that govern which sales rep can call on which accounts. In many organizations, only one sales rep may sell to each customer or account. These rules can be complex depending on the nature of your business, but most newer sales teams just need some basic, written rules.

Teams with multiple competing reps need Account Ownership rules in order to keep reps from stepping on each other’s toes, and to keep them from annoying customers with calls or emails from multiple reps.

Account ownership rules need to cover:

  • How reps gain ownership of accounts.
  • How reps lose ownership of accounts.

Again, these are going to vary widely depending on your business model. Be as detailed as you need to be to get the information across, but don’t make account ownership rules that you aren’t willing to actively enforce.

(Optional) Sales Methodology

A sales methodology is a set of guidelines or principles for interacting with prospects or customers. Methodologies are fairly complex and require dedicated training to experience the full benefit and really “follow” the methodology, but you can still learn many new skills from reviewing them.

If your organization has chosen to use a formal sales methodology such as the Challenger Model, Solution Selling, or Sandler Method then you’ll want to dedicate this section to explaining that methodology and how it works.

Objection Handling & Value Selling

This section should include information on common objections and how to overcome them, along with specific ways to provide value to your customers.

Objection Handling When building this section, you’ll want to take every objection and concern you can think of and highlight them here. For each of them you’ll want to include:

  1. The objection.
  2. An example response.
  3. An explanation for why the example response is an ideal response.
  4. (Optional) Background on the objection.

Try to explain each objection in as much detail as possible. The more context the sales reps understand behind the objection, the better they’ll be able to handle them on the fly and come from a place of mutual understanding when speaking to the prospect about that concern.

Value Selling

While objection handling is more about responding to objections properly, value selling is hearing customer pain points or buying criteria then matching them to features of your product and end-benefits to customers. Proper objection handling keeps you from losing deals whereas well-trained value selling enables you to win deals.

Value selling is easiest to create in a simple table with the following three columns:

  1. Pain point / buying criteria — A potential customer’s issue, need, or goal that can be solved with our product.
  2. Features — Our product features that solve this issue, fulfill this need, or reach this goal.
  3. Benefit — The end-benefit to customers who use this feature to resolve this point point or buying criteria.

When working on your value selling table, keep in mind the differences between capabilities, features, and benefits. For example, if your laptop has a fingerprint scanner, it saves you the trouble of needing to type in your password when you log in. The feature here is the fingerprint scanner, the capability is unlocking your computer, and the benefit is the few seconds that the fingerprint scanner saves you versus typing in your password manually.

Of course, if you haven’t already worked through value selling or objection handling, creating this section of your sales manual is going to be somewhat time-intensive but very beneficial in the long run.


The purpose of this section is to make this manual the one-and-only document sales reps need. Inevitably your reps are going to need to use other software, reference personal documents such as contracts, and more. If you can use this section to link to every other resource your reps will ever need, you’ll have made your sales manual a very usable single source of truth.

Some common resources to link to include:

  • Sales & marketing collateral (stored in CRM, Drive, Dropbox, etc.).
  • Personal documents (employee contract, commission reports, etc.).
  • HR platform.
  • Websites for CRM, targeting, or prospecting tools.
  • Industry publications or blogs.

Basically, if it’s something your reps are going to need to reference or access, link to it under Resources.

How to format your sales manual

Don’t use multiple documents in multiple locations with multiple versions. If helpful information is difficult to find, or in numerous locations, reps will spend unnecessary time looking for them (or won’t look at all). Your sales manual should be housed in one company-wide document with links to sales-relevant external docs, URLs, etc.

Use these sections as a foundation for creating your sales manual:

  • Basics — Introduction to the role and company.
  • Team Structure — Your current sales team and key people to know.
  • Competition — Where you stand among your competitors.
  • Responsibilities — Expectations and quotas for your sales reps.
  • Compensation — How commission is earned and paid.
  • Targeting – Your target demographic and how to find their contact information.
  • Prospecting — How to find leads and engage them.
  • Qualifying — Criteria and process for ensuring an opportunity is worth your time.
  • Sales Process — The stages and processes for turning prospects into customers.
  • Workflows & SOPs — Processes and guidelines reps need to follow on a daily basis.
  • Account Ownership Rules — Rules of the hunt.
  • Methodology — How to approach selling.
  • Value Selling & Objection Handling — Tips for overcoming objections and providing value.
  • Resources — Links to anything else reps may need.

Your sales manual is a dynamic document and should be updated regularly. For this reason we don’t recommend printing your sales manual or creating it as a static PDF file. Both Notion and Google Docs are easy to update, and offer sharing options that are simple and straightforward, but there are other software platforms that have similar capabilities. Online documents are also searchable using Cmd+F or Ctrl+F, making the information even more easily accessible for your team.

Whatever platform you use to store your sales manual, it’s important to keep it organized, accessible, and a dynamic single source of information for your sales team.

In Conclusion

Creating your own sales manual takes time, but in the long run it will make your job easier. By following the steps in this detailed outline, you’ll be able to write a sales manual that accurately reflects the sales practices and policies specific to your business. By keeping this document accessible and up to date, you’ll equip your sales team to work and sell effectively.

To learn how to build a sales plan check out this guide.

Want to have access to templates, examples, instructions, and more? View our Sales Team Starter today!

What Skills do You Need to be a Sales Manager?

Revenue growth and customer satisfaction objectives are especially valued by companies, and sales managers who can achieve these goals while still keeping the company inventive and competitive are highly regarded by employers.

What Is a Sales Manager?

It’s the sales manager’s job to establish and manage a sales team for a business.

Sales managers are responsible for a wide range of key responsibilities in most companies. For example, these include:

  • Setting sales goals.
  • Proactive experimentation to enhance the execution of a sales strategy.
  • Keeping an eye on critical deals.
  • Overseeing the company’s sales training program.
  • Maintaining sales quotas for individuals and teams.
  • Keeping tabs on progress and evaluating data in real time.
  • Sales team management and support.

Those are a few of the many critical responsibilities related to a sales manager’s role in the company.

Sales Rep vs Sales Manager

Generally sales managers come out of the top percentage of salespeople. They are initially promoted for their ability to close deals and drive revenue. However, being great at sales and being a great sales manager require completely different skill sets.

Having excellent sales skills doesn’t necessarily make you a great sales manager. Learning to transition from one role to the other can be bumpy. But once you understand what your sales team, and company, need from you as a leader you can then focus on which skills to develop.

What Makes a Great Sales Manager?

Being a good sales manager, or learning to become a better one, is usually dependent on knowing what the sales team needs from you.

Your sales representatives need a mentor who will keep them responsible, evaluate their work, and provide feedback on how they can improve. They may also need you to be someone who celebrates their successes or advocates for them within the company.

Sales management skills and an eagerness to understand the techniques are essential for a sales manager to succeed. The best sales managers are constantly looking for ways to improve.

An organization’s revenue-generating operations are directly influenced by the sales manager’s skills. A sales manager is in the unique position of having to support individuals separately and the organization as a whole.

Having experience as a sales manager can improve your job performance and allow you to move up the corporate ladder.

This article will explain the skills a sales manager needs to be successful.

10 Essential Sales Management Skills

The following 10 sales management skills are necessary for every sales manager:


As a sales manager, you’ll spend a large portion of your time meeting and conversing with your sales team.

Because of this, understanding how to deal with them is critical. Great communication skills are an asset. It helps guarantee that you’re communicating the right information to the sales personnel and other employees in a timely way, through the appropriate media, and in the right tone for the specific rep you’re speaking with.

A sales manager’s job is to make sure everyone understands their responsibilities and what they need to accomplish for the team to succeed. It’s also their role to make sure each rep has bought into the vision of the team.


To assist your sales staff, it’s crucial to give sales training and guidance. Sales training frequently comprises sales tactics and product knowledge. However, sales coaching can foster habits that will drive your team members to meet their long-term performance and sales goals.

When you have good coaching abilities, you’re better equipped to assist each member of your team to improve as a salesperson.

When it comes to managing a sales team, the sales manager needs to keep tabs on both the little details of each day and the broader picture of the company’s overall objectives. And they have to know how to apply that information to their team.

You can improve the quality of a salesperson by providing them with coaching, advice, and support, and the sales manager must take an active role in this process.

However, a good sales manager knows that if they micromanage too much, they will crush their team’s sales performance. They also know that if they don’t pay attention to what their team is doing, they may stop performing at optimal levels.

Sales teams work like high school baseball teams. A sales manager acts as the coach, building up the team and their skills. Over time the best performers will eventually leave to develop their own careers. This should be the goal, that the sales manager is developing their best performers to be independent.

The benefit of this is that your “seniors” are helping develop the “freshmen” before graduating and starting their own coaching careers.

While a sales manager is teaching their senior reps to mentor others, they should be mentoring a fellow member of their management team who may need a little extra help. Arrange activities that get your coworkers moving. Don’t sit around and wait for top-down changes to be made your way. Instead, try out new ideas for driving good change in your team.


This skill helps you manage the connections and interactions between your current and potential clients. It gives you information on how well each member of your team is doing. It also helps you better manage your connections, sales, and relationships with customers.

A good sales manager should know the ins and outs of the CRM they are using. A tool is only good if the person working with it knows how to use it.

Dig into your CRM. Learn how to scan dashboards and reports, or better yet create your own. Learn everything you can about the contacts, companies, and deals within the system. Learn how to use the tools your sales reps use within the system so that you can better coach them on their use. This can be as simple as learning how to create email templates or meeting links to make outreach more effective.

Once you know how to use the CRM, you may find that your hours of management become minutes, or at least more effective.


A sales manager is responsible for looking through the data, determining what information is pertinent, and making meaningful judgments.

A large part of a sales manager’s job is checking data on spreadsheets or CRM dashboards and being able to make quick decisions about what actions to take. They are responsible for performing in-depth analyses of the market and the clients to find potential opportunities and collaborations, which is a significant component of their work.

A sales manager needs to be able to glance at the data and see who is performing or not, and what adjustments need to be made on sales strategy. They also need to be able to discuss that information in a meaningful way with people at all levels of the company.

To do this, you need to have excellent analytical abilities and the capacity to make conclusions that are relevant and useful for the business.

These kinds of data are essential in projecting sales and defining sales targets that are aligned with the company’s overall objectives. This also serves as the foundation for developing sales strategies, which the sales manager will put into action.


Planning is a vital step that must be taken to ensure the expansion of a sales department and, ultimately, the scalability of a firm. First, the sales manager must gather all of the relevant data and insights needed to build a plan. The next step in the process is to design a strategy for the course of action that will actualize the sales plan.

This includes implementing, monitoring, and modifying the plan from the beginning through to the finish to guarantee that the plan will be successfully implemented.

In addition, it requires gathering the complete team under a single roof to work toward a unified common goal to enhance workflow management. To do this, a sales manager has to be able to:

  1. Identify the sales objectives.
  2. Record the procedure so everybody can follow it.
  3. Offer the required training and support to ensure that the whole sales force is efficient continuously.


To assist their team in reaching its full potential, sales managers need to know when it’s appropriate to delegate certain responsibilities. Sales managers are human too, and no matter how good they are, they can only do so much.

To effectively allocate your personnel, you need a solid understanding of the strengths and shortcomings of each salesperson. When you allocate tasks to them in the appropriate manner, your employees will have the chance to:

  • Push themselves.
  • Learn new abilities.
  • Improve the overall performance of the sales team.

The degree to which a sales manager is successful can be measured by how efficiently they utilize the sales department to advance the objectives of the firm. This is also a great way to develop your sales team’s skills and prepare them for advancement in their careers.

To be successful in this endeavor, a sales manager has to be aware of when and how to assign duties to other employees to boost the overall productivity of the business.


Because sales managers are responsible for a variety of tasks, they need to have effective time management skills. Solid time management skills will allow you to:

  • Prioritize activities.
  • Maintain limits.
  • Set aside time for certain tasks.
  • Property plan out days.

If you can effectively manage your time, you will be able to maintain your productivity. Not only will organizing your day provide you with more time to get things done, but it will also make it easier for you to collaborate with other members of your team and increase the overall effectiveness of your operations.

Often a mark of a successful sales manager is running out of things to do on a daily basis. If you delegate, prioritize tasks, and organize your day well, you may find you have some extra time every day.


As a sales manager, one of the most crucial skills is the ability to problem-solve when issues crop up. When difficulties are solved effectively, the sales team can carry out their duties without unnecessary difficulties.

Many sales reps are so focused on the sale that they are unable to find ways around certain obstacles or objections. All they see is a wall blocking the sale. A good sales manager will help them see that the wall is actually a boulder, and that there are ways around the issue. It’s your job as the sales manager to point out positive actions the reps can take in these situations.

Additionally, problem solving helps enhance the overall efficiency of the team as you manage to resolve the conflict.


It’s essential to keep the team motivated toward the objectives they have set for themselves. You can do this by planning meetings, events, and team-building exercises that push individuals outside of their comfort zones.

In addition to this, encourage openness and transparency to help them recognize the difficulties and constraints associated with sales operations.

Each rep is going to respond best to a different type of motivation or tone. Knowing what motivates each rep, and knowing how to speak to them, can be the difference in developing a successful team.

Managing and guiding the sales team requires not only great leadership abilities but also an understanding of your function as a leader. To be an effective leader, you must motivate your team and give them better techniques and support. The ability to lead effectively also involves understanding your employees’ strengths and weaknesses.


A sales manager needs to have a resilient mindset when confronted with obstacles. If you have this ability, you will be able to look at every failure as a lesson or a chance to improve your skills.

Sales can be a rollercoaster. The team may close a lot of sales one day, and the next day everyone seems to have forgotten how to sell. A sales manager needs to be able to remain calm and focused through the ups and downs of the sales cycle.

In addition to this, being resilient helps you:

  • Discover new approaches to enhance the sales procedure.
  • Effectively allocate your resources.
  • Inspire your team.
  • Learn from your experience.
  • Put what you’ve learned into practice.


The role of a sales manager comes with a broad variety of obligations. The most important of these is to motivate everyone in the department to cooperate effectively and contribute to the organization’s objectives.

Itching for more? Learn more with our Sales Team Starter. 

The Challanger Sale — How to Navigate Complex Sales Conversations

Read it here: AmazonAudibleBookshop

Whether you’re looking for a quick overview to get started, or have already read it and need a refresher, this summary of The Challenger Sale is designed to give you the key highlights of this proven sales methodology.

The Five Types of Sales Reps, According to The Challenger Sale

In the Challenger sales model, all sales reps fall into five categories. These categories are not static – a rep can belong to one category while sharing characteristics with other categories. Also, because many of these are skill-based, by growing their skill set, a rep’s type can change over time.

The five types of sales reps listed in The Challenger Sale are:

  1. Hard Worker – The sales reps who believe that simply by putting in more hours than anyone else they will pull in more deals or revenue.
  2. Lone Wolf – These are the reps that pull in huge numbers, often out of instinct rather than any methodology. They don’t like to be managed, and typically don’t play well with others, but are tolerated because they constantly outperform their peers.
  3. Reactive Problem Solver – These reps are excellent problem solvers, but they tend to focus more on providing excellent customer service than generating new sales.
  4. Relationship Builder – These sales reps are focused on building strong networks of relationships with their clients, but because they tend to avoid conflict or debate, they don’t sell as much as they could.
  5. Challenger– Challenger reps are assertive debaters who develop a deep understanding of customer needs.

Each of these types can be low achievers, but many sales managers would be surprised to learn that Challenger Reps typically lead the pack in terms of performance while Relationship Builders tend to be some of the lowest performing reps overall. That’s one of the main reasons we recommend the Challenger methodology to clients dealing with complex sales.

So how do you find (or become!) a Challenger Rep? The good news is — anyone can be taught to be a Challenger — these types of reps are made, not born. The Challenger sales model is based on demonstrated behaviors. It’s not about who you are but what you do.

Essential Skills for Becoming a Challenger Rep

There are three key things that Challenger Reps do well:

  • They teach prospects something new and valuable about how to compete in their market.
  • They tailor their sales pitch to resonate with each stakeholder’s hot-button issues.
  • They take control of the sales process by creating constructive tension and a sense of urgency.


While most sales reps start the conversation talking about their own product and company, Challenger Reps focus on teaching the prospect something new and valuable about a problem or opportunity their business is facing.

After fully understanding the prospect’s situation, a Challenger Rep provides an expert perspective gained from their broader view of the industry.

6 Steps of a Teaching Conversation

There are six steps to a teaching conversation in the Challenger sales method:

  1. Warmer – After the initial introductions, a Challenger Rep lays out the challenges they’re seeing and hearing from other companies in the prospect’s industry, setting themselves up as the expert who is already knowledgeable about the prospect’s business.
  2. Reframe – This is the core of the conversation. Challenger Reps offer insights into the prospect’s company to make them aware of a new problem or opportunity at hand.
  3. Rational Drowning – In this step, a Challenger Rep provides data to support the identified problem or opportunity. This step is meant to be uncomfortable for the prospect, as they realize the full scope of what they’re facing.
  4. Emotional Impact – To really bring the issue home, Challenger Reps tell a story that is so relatable that the prospect can see themselves in it. This is the gut punch. At this point, the prospect should feel almost physically ill as they worry about the problem that was brought to life by storytelling.
  5. New Way – After driving the issue home, the Challenger Rep starts to alleviate the prospect’s concern by delivering a solution. This is still not about the rep’s company; it’s strictly about the range of solutions available to the prospect.
  6. Your Solution – Now and only now do Challenger Reps mention their company and their specific solution. This is where they say “Here is how we can fix the problem.”

Challenger Reps reveal the problem, then provide insight and a solution that eventually leads back to the unique strengths that the rep’s product or company has to offer.

To increase urgency, the Challenger Rep then drives home the cost of INaction. At no point in the conversation is a rep justifying the cost of their product. Instead, the focus is on what will happen if the prospect does not do anything.

Every part of the conversation is focused on driving the prospect to take action.

To recap teaching:

  • Identify the problem the prospect doesn’t know about.
  • Identify the solution that leads to your company’s unique strengths.
  • Explain the cost of INaction.


Being a Challenger Rep is about more than just teaching. To truly resonate with their prospect, Challenger Reps tailor their message to the individual in front of them. Their sales pitch is tailored to each person they speak with, and that person’s unique priorities as it relates to their position in the prospect’s company.

In complex sales, it’s unusual to get a direct line to the top decision maker. Challenger Reps overcome this by tailoring their message to each individual stakeholder in the decision-making chain.

While the main content doesn’t change, the rep will highlight different features or tell different stories to connect individually with each stakeholder. While this might seem like too much work, it pays off in the long term as it makes each team member feel heard and valued.

Since team buy-in is often a key factor for top level decision makers, taking the time to make sure their entire team is on board makes them much more likely to pull the trigger when it’s time to purchase.

To recap tailoring:

  • Complex sales often require selling to multiple people in the decision-making chain.
  • Focus on the goals and needs of the individual in front of you, and use these to tailor your pitch and storytelling.
  • Remember that team buy-in is an important factor for top-level decision makers.

Taking Control

Teaching and tailoring are valuable, but taking control is the step that makes Challenger Reps rise above the rest.

While many sales reps avoid taking control – either from their own lack of self-confidence or a desire to please the prospect, Challenger Reps sell with confidence because they know they’re adding value to the conversation. Taking control isn’t about being aggressive. It’s about being assertive and knowing how to stand your ground when a prospect pushes back.

Challenger Reps are comfortable pushing to the next stage of the deal. By taking the lead in the conversation, they’re equipped to challenge their prospect’s thinking, helping prospects focus on the areas of value offered without landing in the weeds of indecision or over-emphasis on the bottom line. Challenger Sales Reps are comfortable talking about money, and aren’t afraid to push.

To recap taking control:

  • Be confident in the value you provide to the prospect.
  • Own the conversation – don’t be afraid to take the lead and ask hard questions.
  • Help the prospect move toward action by creating a sense of urgency.

4 Key Principles of Challenger Sales

1. Challengers Are Made, Not Just Born

While some reps may lean naturally toward this style of selling, many will not. The good news is that the Challenger sales method can be taught, and reps can learn how to leverage constructive tension to move prospects into action.

2. It’s the Combination of Skills That Matters

Of the three challenger attributes — teaching, tailoring, and taking control — the power lies in the combination more than any particular part. If you teach without tailoring, you become irrelevant. If you tailor but don’t teach, you won’t really stand out from the competition. And if you take control without offering value, you’ll come off as bossy and unhelpful.

3. Challenging Is About Organizational Capability, Not Just Skills

In order to ensure a consistent message, the content of the teaching pitch needs to come from the organizational level, not just individual reps. By using a high-level view to categorize customer needs and insights, companies can equip their reps with resources tailored to each specific customer type, empowering reps to effectively take control of the sales interaction.

4. Building a Challenger Sales Force Won’t Happen Overnight

The Challenger sales method is an entirely different way of approaching sales, and the changes required won’t happen overnight. Moving to a Challenger model is a commercial transformation that takes time to get it right.


In this summary of The Challenger Sale, we’ve covered how to teach, tailor, and take control in complex sales conversations. You’ve learned the six steps of a teaching conversation, and how to tailor your pitch to encourage buy-in from the entire decision-making team. Of course, if you haven’t already, we highly recommend reading the book – find it on AmazonAudible, and Bookshop.

Interested in a blueprint on designing your own sales team? Purchase our Sales Team Starter today!

Predictable Revenue — How to Create a Successful Sales System

Order your copy: AmazonBookshopAudible

Need a Quick Overview of Predictable Revenue?

In the outline below, you’ll find highlights on:

  • The difference between different types of leads (and why it matters)
  • What to do instead of cold calling
  • Prospecting best practices
  • Sales best practices
  • The Predictable Revenue 3 Hour and 15 Minute Sales Process
  • How to increase call effectiveness without call scripts
  • How to create your own sales machine
  • Why specialization always wins
  • How to cultivate team talent
  • How to create alignment within your sales and leadership teams

Whether you don’t have time to read the book, or just need a quick refresher, this predictable revenue summary covers the key concepts you need to know to create your own successful sales system.

Know the Difference Between Seeds, Nets, and Spears

Before attempting to build your own sales machine capable of generating predictable revenue, it’s important to understand the different types of leads coming into your business. Leads fall into three categories: Seeds, Nets, and Spears.

Seeds are the most profitable type of lead, but they require a long-term approach and commitment. Seeds are created by developing happy customers and user groups, publishing helpful content online and on social media, boosting organic internet searches, and optimizing for SEO. All of these elements take time to cultivate, but once they’re in place you’ll enjoy a steady stream of word-of-mouth referrals and positive PR.

Nets generate leads through a one-size-fits-all, cast-it-out-and-see-what-you-catch approach. This style of lead generation is typically used by traditional marketing, including email campaigns, pay-per-click advertising, traditional advertising, and conferences. Nets can generate leads faster, but they still take time and don’t always generate predictable results.

Spears involve highly targeted outbound efforts, and a dedicated amount of human effort and interaction. Because of their time-intensive approach, it’s important to clearly define exactly what makes a lead a good fit. Otherwise, you may waste significant time “hunting” leads that won’t benefit from your offering after all.

The Better Alternative to Traditional Cold Calling

Traditional cold calling techniques involved dialing your way through poorly targeted lists, essentially rolling the dice over and over hoping to increase your odds of finding a good fit. Cold Calling 2.0 improves this process by leveraging technology to create highly targeted lists, using multichannel outreach to create a connection, and cultivating warm leads before you ever pick up the phone.


Create Highly Targeted Prospect Lists. Using Ideal Customer Profiles, define the qualities and characteristics that make up the top 5-10% of your customer base, meaning the ones who are most likely to purchase at the highest revenue. Then create highly targeted lists of prospects whose companies match the qualities in your Ideal Customer Profile.

Overcome the Biggest Obstacle to Prospecting

The biggest obstacle in prospecting isn’t getting to the decision maker, it’s figuring out who they are in the first place. To overcome this, call low in the company to get information, and email high in the company to ask for a referral to the best person to contact. A referral from above will open the doors to the right person, who is often already expecting your call.

Run Highly Effective Outbound Email Campaigns

Instead of sending mass emails hundreds at a time, have each rep send 50-100 emails per day, a few days each week, to the prospects on your highly targeted list. The goal of these rolling campaigns is to generate 5-10 new responses per day, enough for a rep to handle without dropping the ball.

Emails should be:

  • Text based (not fancy HTML)
  • Brief and easily readable on a mobile device
  • Simple, friendly, and to the point
  • Ask just one easy to answer question

In short, create an email that looks like a quick note from a friend, not a lengthy sales pitch.

Sell the Dream, Not the Solution

Selling the dream, in this case, means to help the prospect create a vision of a dream solution for whatever problem or challenge they are facing, and then to connect your product or service to their key business issues as part of their dream solution.

Ask open-ended questions about your prospect’s business and challenges. Avoid becoming too eager until you’re certain there’s a mutual fit. Until then, your biggest challenge is to stay focused on the prospect’s business and not your own product or service.

Cold Calling 2.0 is best for:
  • Companies who can have at least one person fully dedicated to prospecting, and:
  • A sales automation system/CRM
  • Prospects who use email
  • A proven product or service that has generated revenue
  • Customer lifetime values of $10,000 or more

Will Cold Calling 2.0 work for companies with lower customer lifetime values or those without a dedicated prospecting team? It will, but it may not be as profitable as it will be for companies who are a better fit.


Clarify Your Ideal Customer Profile

Define three to five key criteria that define your ideal customer, any red flags to watch out for, the type of ideal contact within that organization, and their core challenges.

Build Your Prospect List

You can DIY lead generation, but it’s better to use a hyper-targeted list creator like LeadFuze and other lead gen platforms to quickly generate lists that match your ideal customer profile.

Run Outbound Email Campaigns

Send 50-100 targeted mass emails a day. Use these emails to generate referrals to the right person in the company, then follow up on the referrals and responses with phone calls. Emails should be plain text, to the point, and ask just one simple question (for a referral).

Sell the Dream

The goal of selling the dream is not to “sell” them on your product or service. Instead, you want to help your prospect visualize a dream solution that will solve their problem, and then help them to connect your product to their issue as part of the solution.

Pass the Baton

Establish what exactly makes a lead qualified, then create and use a clearly defined process to hand off to the Account Executive who will then re-qualify and (ideally) close the prospect.

Ultimately, Cold Calling 2.0 is successful when sales reps use these systems consistently and focus their attention on actions that generate results.

Prospecting Best Practices

Intentionally design your day for success. To maintain enthusiasm, make sure to take a break every 90 minutes, take a full lunch break, and commit to stopping work at a set time every day.

Use these tactics to avoid common prospecting mistakes:

  • Make sure your expectations are realistic. Even short sales cycles can take upwards of two to four weeks.
  • Keep your emails bite-sized and honest, and only ask one question per message. Writing long, overly detailed emails, and/or using gimmicky sales tactics will only hurt you in the long run.
  • Send emails before 9am and after 5pm, and avoid sending on Fridays and Mondays.
  • Go deep instead of wide. Consistent effort with targeted accounts is going to be the best use of your time.
  • Don’t give up too quickly on targets that are a good fit.
  • Don’t linger too long with non-ideal targets that aren’t a good fit.
  • Make sure you’re tracking the right metrics. Don’t just throw activity at a goal; measure actions that are proven to get results.
  • Call low to learn about the company.
  • Email high to get referred down to the right person.
  • Remember you’re a non-threatening researcher, not an insensitive, pushy salesperson.

Carve out time each week for activities that are important but not urgent. Like eating right and exercising, if you don’t make time for something it won’t happen. Don’t fall into the trap of being so busy that you don’t get anything done.

Sales Best Practices

Sales used to be all about promotion, and involved controlling and manipulating prospects just to get a sale. The actual product didn’t matter. But the advent of the internet changed sales forever, putting power in the hands of the buyers.

Great companies and salespeople have recognized this change and switched to using attraction instead. Instead of pushing people toward a sale, attraction is a much gentler and respectful process that is focused on adding real value to the prospect before, during, and long after the sale. This creates long-term relationships, referrals, and goodwill and trust toward you and your company as a whole.

Instead of obsessing about closing, become passionate about helping your customers succeed. Selling with your prospects’ success in mind will help you pull them through a buying journey rather than push them through a sales cycle.

You’ll also want to focus on the decision-making process, rather than putting too much emphasis on the decision maker.

You can do this by asking questions like:

  • How have you evaluated similar products or services?
  • Who is involved in making this decision?
  • What are the most important factors in the purchase decision?

Don’t hold back on building a relationship with the decision maker, just keep your questions focused on learning the process and gathering information rather than instantly closing the deal.

The Predictable Revenue 3 Hour and 15 Minute Sales Process

The Predictable Revenue 3 Hour and 15 Minute Sales Process is based on answering three simple questions to determine fit and the prospect’s willingness and ability to move forward.

In a nutshell, the process looks like this:


Connect with the prospect in a quick, 15 minute call. This is the time to ask targeted questions that will answer the question “Is this a waste of time?” If the answer is no, move on to Step Two.


Schedule a one hour discovery call with one or two of the prospect’s point people. The purpose of this call is to determine “Is there a fit?” If the answer is no, the process stops here. If the answer is yes, move on.


Set up an in-depth, two hour working session to answer the question “Should we work together?” Work together with the client to create a clearly defined and compelling vision that will pull them forward through the buying journey.

The 3 Hour and 15 Minute Sales Process is effective, because by eliminating poor fit prospects at the beginning of the sales process, you’ll be saving time for the prospects most likely to buy overall.

How to Increase Call Effectiveness Without Scripts

Call Scripts have been the gold standard for cold calling, and they have their place, but people are becoming increasingly attuned to canned questions. To address this, use call planning and call flows to increase the effectiveness of your calls without using call scripts.


Consider using the AAA Call Planning technique. This involves making a quick list prior to a call that defines the answers you want to learn, the attitudes you want your prospects to feel, and the desired actions that should occur after the call.


Ideally, you should take a research based approach with prospects, using the first half of the call to learn about their business and needs, and the second half of the call to position your service and value specifically as it relates to their business challenges and needs.


Avoid being overly businesslike when leaving voicemail messages. Be warm and sincere, like you would talk to a family member or friend. Speak slowly and clearly, state your full name and phone number at the beginning and end of the message, and give them a clear and compelling reason to return your call. Voicemail is particularly effective when used in combination with email.

How to Create Your Own Sales Machine

A sales machine that generates consistent, predictable revenue involves three key parts: predictable lead generation, a specialized sales development team, and consistent sales systems (because without consistency, predictability is impossible).


  1. Patience. Creating predictable revenue can take a year or more. Keeping this in mind will help you avoid the temptation to throw in the towel before you experience measurable results.
  2. Experimentation. While there are many solid principles you can use to improve your sales results, the reality is that your business is unique. The best way to overcome this is to experiment, use A/B testing, and try different methods evenly across your prospect list and then measure the results.
  3. Prioritize repeatable projects. One-off projects can be tempting, but repeatable processes are where you’ll find predictable results.
  4. Use a CRM. Create a company-wide standard that if it’s not in the CRM, it doesn’t count. Spreadsheets just don’t cut it when it comes to the automation and reporting capabilities of even the most basic full-featured CRM.
  5. Visualize your process. If your sales process has too many steps to be sketched out on a piece of paper or whiteboard, it’s just too complicated. Simplify your process to three to seven high-level steps that answer the following questions: What is the desired outcome? What does the process have to look like to lead to this outcome? How are we already using the process today?
  6. Focus on results. Tracking activity feels good, but activity alone won’t get you where you need to go. Instead, focus on tracking the right activities that directly lead to your desired results.
  7. Track the right metrics. Avoid the temptation to over-build results and dashboards, as this makes it difficult to focus on what really matters. Work with your team to prioritize the metrics that will lead to measurable results.
  8. Pay attention to the handoffs. Problems or issues in the sales process pop up most often in the transitions between teams, so pay attention to the passing of batons within your sales process. Evaluate and redesign how these handoffs occur to minimize friction and reduce the chance of issues and balls being dropped.
  9. Prioritize small improvements. While it’s tempting to make sweeping changes, it’s baby steps taken over time that add up to the biggest results.

Remember, creating a predictable revenue sales machine takes time. Keep your expectations realistic, and give your company the room it needs to grow.


  • Number of new leads created
  • Number of qualified sales opportunities created
  • Total dollar amount of new qualified pipeline generated
  • Conversion rate percentage of leads to qualified opportunities
  • Total business or revenue, split into new business, add-on business, and renewals
  • Win rates

Tracking the right metrics will give you the data you need to adjust systems and processes over time, fine-tuning them for long-term success.

Specialization Always Wins

Specialization is key to creating predictable revenue within your company. While it might be tempting to lump lead generation, qualification, prospecting, closing, and account management into one general “sales” role, this blending of responsibilities is a huge productivity killer.

When you generalize sales responsibilities, you also run the risk of:

  • Distracted and disorganized sales reps who are spending their time on low-value tasks
  • Less opportunity to grow and develop talent
  • Unclear reporting and messy metrics
  • Lowered visibility into problems and their solutions

Specialization allows each member of the team to do their job with laser sharp focus and less task switching, improving their efficiency and effectiveness.


There are four core sales functions in any sales team:

  1. Inbound lead qualifications: Qualifying leads from inbound web and phone leads.
  2. Outbound prospecting: Dedicated to proactive business development through developing lists of prospects into highly targeted leads.
  3. Account executives: Quota-carrying reps who close deals.
  4. Account management/Customer success: Dedicated to making sure customers stay successful after the sale.

In many companies, this division of responsibilities includes a Market Response Representative who qualifies inbound leads, a Sales Development Representative (or Business Development Representative) who is responsible for prospecting and qualifying targeted leads, an Account Executive who works the active sales cycle and closes leads, and a Customer Services Representative or Account Manager who nurtures customer relationships after the sale.

As your company grows, these core functions will likely become even more specialized, but they shouldn’t ever become less specialized. If you need to have one person take on more than one sales function, ensure that they’re batching responsibilities and setting aside dedicated time to work each “role.”


It’s important to focus your highest value people on the highest value work. That’s why Account Executives should focus primarily on closing. When they do prospect, it’s best to focus on existing customers and a short, targeted list of vital accounts and channel partners.

When accepting leads from the qualifying team, the Account Executive should re-qualify the lead through a demo or discovery call before accepting it into their own pipeline.


The four core sales functions can be further divided into three types of sales professionals: Qualifiers, Closers, and Farmers.

As the name suggests, Qualifiers (like the Market Response and Sales Development Representatives listed above) are responsible for qualifying leads early in the sales process.

Closers (Account Executives) take these qualified leads through the active sales cycle, focusing their efforts on nurturing and closing deals. In general, a Sales Development Representative can support two to five quota-carrying Account Executives. In higher-value sales, a 2:1 or even 1:1 ratio of Sales Development Reps to Account Executives can still be VERY profitable.

While often overlooked, Farmers (Account Managers and Customer Service Reps) are also an essential part of the sales process. Ensuring customer success and satisfaction is crucial to creating happy customers who then generate referrals, renewals, and repeat business.

Cultivating Sales Team Talent

Great sales teams don’t happen automatically. Finding great salespeople is one thing, but keeping them engaged and productive is even more challenging. Focus on creating a great company culture that empowers your employees to learn and grow step by step.


It can be really challenging to find great sales talent, so often the best course of action is to grow them yourself. Your team should be made up of one part experienced veterans, and three parts young, smart, and adaptable new hires. The best salespeople are the ones who have grown up in your company culture and know your product, prospects, and priorities from the inside out.

Hire people who:

  • Are problem-solvers
  • Listen more than they talk
  • Know how to get things done
  • Understand the challenges and needs of customers in your industry
  • Believe in your product and company
  • Demonstrate personal and professional integrity

As you build your sales teams, be intentional about creating a defined career path so that each member of your team has space and incentive to develop personally and professionally. This will create happy employees, which will result in happy customers and more predictable revenue.


Invest in your people, especially new hires, with consistent and cohesive training and coaching. For any program to work, your management team needs to be fully committed to consistency and follow through. If your management isn’t committed, your sales team won’t be committed either.

Effective sales training should include:

  • New hire training, including a sales boot camp
  • Internal training embedded into the career path
  • Regular role-playing
  • Self-managed internal training with leadership rotating through each member of your sales team

Implementing regular, consistent training with your sales team is one of the best ways to guarantee long-term success.

Create Sales Team Alignment with Leadership & Management

One of the most common issues for sales teams is misalignment. This can be corrected by careful hiring, training, and ongoing coaching and review.


  1. Hire carefully. Hire for talent and adaptability rather than experience.
  2. Set expectations. Define roles based on desired results, not activities.
  3. Remove obstacles. Prioritize simplicity and clarity to improve productivity.
  4. Inspire your team. Understand what helps each member of your team find their own reasons to excel and achieve their full potential.
  5. Create room for growth. Work for your team by treating mistakes as learning and coaching opportunities, and by being intentional in creating room for career growth.
  6. Review and improve. Make a point to regularly review the previous five steps to look for ways you can improve and change as your company grows.

Being intentional about creating alignment within your sales teams will lead to improved productivity and predictable results.


While organic growth is based on existing relationships and organic internet marketing, proactive growth involves investing time and resources into new systems, programs, and practices. It takes time, both from trial and error and from the delays and frustrations caused by learning and doing new things.

Understand that shifting from organic to proactive growth is an essential part of creating predictable revenue, but it’s also a process – it’s going to take time, energy, and discomfort. In order to be successful, you need to stay committed, persistent, and patient as you go through the hot coals of transition, whether it takes months or even years.

Predictable Revenue Summary

Creating your own predictable revenue sales machine starts with defining specialized roles and responsibilities within your sales team. Using prospecting and sales best practices, you’ll determine your ideal customer profile and use this to create highly targeted prospect lists. Your dedicated prospecting team of Sales Development Reps will reach out to these prospects using a combination of mass email campaigns using short, friendly emails, and phone outreach using call plans, call flows, and voicemails that get results.

Once leads have been qualified by the prospecting team, they’ll be transferred to an Account Executive whose time is dedicated to nurturing and closing high-value accounts. Eventually, your Account Manager/Customer Service Team will continue to farm these accounts, cultivating happy customers who then generate return and renewal business, along with referrals, reviews, and positive PR.

To ensure your employees are engaged and equipped, you’ll prioritize frequent and consistent training, with clearly defined career paths and room for growth. As you add new members to your sales team, you’ll look for talented and adaptable individuals who are hungry to learn and tackle new challenges. As your sales team grows, you’ll always look for ways to specialize to reduce distractions and optimize your reps’ productivity and performance.


While we’ve packed as much information as possible into this overview of predictable revenue, we’ve only scratched the surface of the book as a whole. As mentioned before, we highly recommend reading Predictable Revenue for yourself – in fact, we frequently recommend Predictable Revenue to our clients.

Buy the book here: AmazonBookshopAudible

Want professional guidance from industry experts? Check out our Sales Team Starter here!

30 Sales Skills Every Sales Rep Should Master

Hard Skills Vs. Soft Skills In Sales

Before we dive into the specific skills you need to master, it’s important to understand the difference between hard and soft sales skills.

Hard skills are technical abilities learned through formal training, such as courses, on-the-job training, and seminars. These skills are typically specialized, and in the case of sales, include prospecting, social selling, understanding sales software, and more.

Soft skills are interpersonal skills that include storytelling, collaboration, time management, and empathy. They may be included informally in your training, but typically you’ll have to learn them on your own.

Success in sales requires both hard and soft skills. For example, you need to know how to find new leads, which often involves utilizing various apps and platforms. But that’s not enough. You also need the soft skill of being able to develop a relationship with those leads and nurture them into paying customers.


30 Key Sales Skills Every Rep Must Have

Now let’s break down the 30 key skills you need to have to succeed in sales.

1. Relationship-building

Not all prospects are going to be ready to close at your first touchpoint. Relationship-building is a crucial part of the sales process, as maintaining long-term relationships will encourage prospects to buy from you when the time comes. It also helps to generate referrals.

Creating these relationships should be intentional and focused on the goal of developing your network. Remember to keep in touch with people in your sales network through regular contact, typically every one to three months for those who aren’t yet interested.

Overall, you can build relationships by positioning yourself as an industry expert; a professional who wakes up every morning to offer new insights, find solutions, and generally help customers achieve their goals. Someone who’s not self serving, and won’t waste the customer’s time if they can’t provide the best solution.

To deepen your relationship with a potential prospect, start learning more about their business, industry, interests, and life. Move towards being more of a friend than a stranger. Focusing the conversation on an interest or experience you have in common will go a long way toward developing a stronger relationship overall.


2. Prospecting

Prospecting involves finding new leads and hopefully moving these people down the sales funnel. Using different lead sources or methods to identify new potential customers for your product and starting a conversation with them.

Prospecting, more than anything, is about commitment and consistency. If you don’t do it regularly then your revenue will go up and down like a rollercoaster; some months you’ll feast then the next month will be famine.

In the words of the Sandler Method, “You Never Have to Like Prospecting, You Just Have to Do It”.

Yes, when prospecting it’s important to weed out people who aren’t a good fit as early as possible, but that’s a secondary goal. The primary goal is: just do it.

Looking to build a better prospecting process? Check out our self-paced workshop


3. Self Confidence

For someone to feel comfortable buying from you, you need to project confidence. A salesperson who fumbles around and isn’t sure what they’re saying makes prospects question whether or not you’re competent.

A lot of confidence comes from experience.

But why is this? And what if you don’t have experience?

If you have experience, you’ll have product knowledge, industry knowledge, knowledge of your customer’s goals and challenges, and knowledge of your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses.

If you don’t have experience, now’s the time to start learning.

Think about it this way: in school, if you don’t study for an important exam, you’ll be shaking as you walk into the exam room. Study, and you’ll walk in beaming with confidence.

Knowledge is a gateway to confidence. And in sales, confidence is contagious; if you’re knowledgeable and communicate with confidence your prospect will feel confident working with you.


4. Optimism

Upbeat salespeople are more likely to close. People want to buy from those who are positive. Optimism will help you to persevere, because in sales you’ll hear no far more often than yes.

What you think about affects how you feel. If you’re struggling to stay positive, do some inner digging. Most of our thoughts happen on autopilot, but taking control of those thoughts is powerful. Consider the CTFAR model.

Also, consider taking five minutes each day to write what you’re grateful for; it will positively shape your mindset for the rest of the day.


5. Time Management

The average salesperson spends just 34% of their time selling.

As a salesperson you’ve likely got a long to-do list, so managing your time to ensure it isn’t wasted is extremely important. Also, your prospect or client is likely as busy, or busier than you are. Show that you value the relationship by valuing their time and schedule.

Consider using automated software, analytics, and other tools to maximize your time. Know exactly what you want to discuss on your calls. Doing so will increase your productivity.

Here are some tips to improve your time management skills:

  1. Use a calendar. While events and meetings will inevitably end up on your calendar, blocking out unstructured time can help you get more done. This can include sending emails, calling clients, doing research, and even exercising.
  2. Say “no” when you need to. Having too much on your plate will make you less effective overall. Say no to as many activities as possible that don’t align with your sales goals.
  3. Start your day with a plan. Either the night before or at the start of your day, determine what you need to accomplish and create a plan for when and how you’ll fit it all in.
  4. Remove distractions. Phone calls, interruptions, and mindless scrolling can all slow down your productivity. Close the door to your office, put on headphones, and silence your devices to help you get more done.


6. Storytelling

Features and benefits are important in sales, but storytelling is just as valuable… Storytelling creates emotion, and people buy emotion.


  1. Appeals to both emotions and logic
  2. Helps prospects visualize your product at work
  3. Increases the odds of a prospect deciding to act

When storytelling, make sure to focus on the following:

  1. Keep your story simple
  2. Answer the question: “why does this product exist?”
  3. Have a clear beginning, middle, and end to each story. For instance, what was another customer’s life like before your product, what led them to decide to buy your product, and what was the result?

Finally, studies show that people retain 65 to 70 percent of information shared through stories while only 5 to 10 percent of information is retained through dry presentation of data and statistics.

Consider storytelling a sales communication 101 skill.


7. Buyer Research

Personalization and accuracy are key to sales. When you know who your prospect is, the trends in their market, and other potential solutions to their problems, you’ll be able to craft the most appropriate pitch.

Using your CRM and analysis tools, begin researching.

Also, when you can show you understand the individual you’re talking to, and not just his or her company, you’ll be better able to form a long-term connection. When a prospect feels like he or she shares something in common with you, they are far more likely to take you seriously.

For instance, 81% of buyers prefer talking with someone who shares the same mannerisms. Similarities matter!


8. Asking Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to connect with your prospects, uncover their needs and desires, and demonstrate your own expertise.

Listen carefully to their answers, and ask thoughtful questions to follow up. The first response a prospect gives is usually just the tip of the iceberg. It’s important to keep digging for more information, especially with more complex topics. It’s not that prospects are intentionally concealing information, it just may take some back and forth before you can be confident that you clearly understand their full thoughts.

A good rule of thumb is to aim for 80/20 them talking vs. you talking. Later in the sales process you’ll have to do a good portion of the talking, but it’s always important to ask high quality questions and be a good listener.

Whenever possible ask open-ended questions as this will help your prospects engage and share better information. From there, ask follow-up questions to dig in for more details. Here are some examples of open ended questions you can ask during an initial sales call:

  • Can you tell me about your business and how we might be able to help?
  • Who are your customers, and where do they come from?
  • What are your desired outcomes with this project?

If you need more ideas, HubSpot has a great list of sales questions you can reference.


9. Comfort With Technology

Sales uses technology of all kinds, going well beyond CRMs. Most sales tech falls into various categories, including:

  • Data networks
  • Sales enablement or engagement
  • Buyer enablement
  • Performance management
  • CRM software
  • Communication
  • …and more

While it’s unreasonable to expect every salesperson to know every tool, a familiarity with technology and the ability to learn new tools quickly is a must. If you’ve grown up in the digital age, this shouldn’t be too challenging.

When you’re presented with a new technology, be curious and tinker with it. This will help you begin to understand its full potential. Don’t expect powerful, feature-rich technologies to make perfect sense right out of the box.

You have to be willing to commit your time to learning how to get the most out of each piece of technology, especially your CRM. This isn’t time wasted; it’s guaranteeing your return on investment.


10. Collaboration

There are a variety of sales jobs, including:

  • Account manager
  • Sales development representative
  • Business development representative
  • Outside sales representative
  • Sales support representative

All these roles work together to push prospects down the sales funnel. Being a team player who’s generous with resources means your entire sales team will perform their best.

Also, sales itself is inherently collaborative. You’re constantly working with prospects and clients to ensure their needs are being met. Learning how to set boundaries, while also being responsive and collaborative, will serve you well.


11. Deep Product Expertise

To create the best and most convincing pitch possible, you need to know your product better than anyone else. This includes features, benefits, developments, and even its weaknesses. You also need to understand how those qualities can directly improve the lives of your prospects.

Effectively communicating this knowledge will show clients that you’re an expert. People trust experts, so this builds their confidence.

Here are some qualities to know well:

  1. History of company or product
  2. Models or styles available
  3. Pricing
  4. Competition and your competitive advantage
  5. How best to use the product

It’s also valuable to know what your product won’t do or who won’t benefit from using it. Sharing this information helps qualify customers who really shouldn’t be talking to you in the first place (and won’t end up buying anyway). Being honest about this also builds trust and rapport while qualified customers (who will benefit from the product) hone in on exactly why they are a good fit.


12. Communicate With Clarity

While you should have a deep understanding of your product and its benefits, your customers are still in the learning process. It’s your job as a salesperson to explain how your product can solve their problems and alleviate their concerns.

Do your best to communicate clearly and simply. Don’t make assumptions about what your prospect already knows. Start from the beginning, break everything down, go slowly, and be receptive to any questions they may have.

This way, your potential customer will gain a detailed understanding of the benefits and solutions your product would provide.


13. Active Listening

Listening comes at different levels, the most advanced of which is active listening. In a nutshell, active listening means listening to hear what another person is saying without the intent to make your own point. You want to be attentive, empathetic, and fully engaged.

To practice active listening:

  1. Don’t let your mind wander. Focus on what the other person is saying.
  2. Avoid redirecting the conversation. Let the other person guide the discussion (of course, you’ll want to keep the conversation on track).
  3. Don’t think about what you’ll say next. Let it come naturally and instead focus on the other person while they’re talking.
  4. Maintain eye contact, lean in, relax, and don’t yawn or fidget.
  5. Avoid interruptions, even excited or empathetic ones. Let the other person finish.

For phone calls, you can show that you’re listening by making use of softening statements.

These are statements made after the prospect says something or asks you a question. They show the prospect that you’re listening and help build rapport. Examples are: “good question” or “I’m glad you asked that” or confirmation statements like “exactly” or “absolutely.”

By actively using these techniques, you’ll avoid missing crucial cues or bits of information. They’ll also help you build a relationship and prove you care about your clients’ needs.


14. Social Media Savvy

In this increasingly social age, social media is a business tool. Knowing your way around platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter will help generate business and conversion.

Consider building a personal brand across different socials that’s relatable and emphasizes your expertise. It’s a great way to build your network, land features, and increase your authority.

If your (positive) reputation precedes you, it can help close potential clients and even generate new prospects.

In terms of social selling, note that 47% of salespeople are able to fill their pipeline without using social selling. That number jumps to 65% for those who deploy social selling.


15. Resilience and Grit

Sales is a notoriously hard career path. Developing grit and resilience is essential to any salesperson’s long term success. According to Hubspot, 48% of salespeople never bother to follow up, but 60% of clients say yes only after having said no four times. Learn to see every “no” you hear as one step closer to a “yes.”


16. Negotiation

Negotiation is a crucial skill to learn if you’re going to be effective in sales. Chris Voss, perhaps the most famous negotiator and author of “Never Split the Difference,” outlines two types of negotiation:

  1. Distributive negotiation: in this case, both parties believe they’ll either win or lose, and that they must take it all to win. An example is haggling with a car dealer.
  2. Integrative negotiation: in this scenario, both sides feel they can reach a mutually beneficial solution. All parties believe they can add value for the other and that everyone can walk away happy.

Unless you’re a real estate agent or car dealer, you’re likely engaging in integrative negotiation. Study this type of negotiation and learn how to incorporate it into your sales skill set.


17. Trainable and Coachable

Lots of sales reps see sales training as a waste of time. However, statistics say otherwise. Companies with dynamic coaching programs achieve 28 percent higher win rates.

Sales is a skill that can be improved with time and coaching. No matter how experienced or effective you are a sales rep, you’ll always benefit from discussing techniques and strategies with your peers. It’s critical that salespeople stay receptive to feedback from others and willing to learn.


18. Adaptable

Customer demographics, tools, and engagement channels constantly change. To succeed in sales you must be able to adapt to new tools and practices.

Further, your industry is always evolving and markets are constantly changing. Some competitors get worse, others get better, and new ones can pop up overnight. You must be able to shift your approach.

Adaptability is made up of two components: versatility and flexibility. The former means you’re able to adapt, and the latter means you’re willing to change when the circumstances call for it.


19. Composure

Successful sales reps are both enthusiastic and composed. Composure helps make other people feel more comfortable, which is very important when it comes to sales. It communicates that the rep knows what they’re doing, which instills confidence. Composure also helps the rep to deliver a pitch that is concise and easy to follow.

Composure is different from self-confidence; you can be confident in yourself without remaining composed. Composure comes from having a well-rehearsed, established sales process that, with experience, becomes second nature. Comparatively, if you decide to “wing it” every day it can be a lot harder to remain composed when meeting with a prospect.


20. Presentation Skills

Sales presentations and demos not only demonstrate your command of what you’re selling, but they foster trust. Being engaging, clear, and articulate will help you better sell to prospects.

There are many different techniques for mastering a sales presentation, but here are some highlights:

  1. Send your presentation to the prospect before your call. This allows them to review the material and come prepared with meaningful questions.
  2. Focus on their problem more than your solution. This gives prospects a feeling that you understand them and positions you to better pitch your solution when the time comes.
  3. Leave the price for last. Many times, a prospect will want to talk about price early on in the call. Instead, try and leave this to the end. You can say something to them like “Let’s go over the details first so that we’re both on the same page about your needs, then go over pricing. This way, we can be sure the price accurately reflects your needs. Does that work for you?”


21. Understanding Human Psychology

The best marketing minds have a strong understanding of psychology. They learn what makes people tick. This is very effective because sales are usually based on how the prospect feels emotionally about the offer rather than objective facts.

A good example of this is through something called the “Pendulum Theory”.

As many great salespeople know, pushing a prospect to buy just makes them push back harder. When this happens, no one makes any progress.

So instead of pushing them in the direction you want them to go, try pulling them away from it and then letting go. Suddenly, your discussion will become a dance. Like a pendulum, your prospects will swing back the other way toward the direction you want them to go.

This especially works with cold prospects who aren’t giving you positive signs on a sales call. Send them a polite but negative comment such as “Correct me if I’m wrong but it doesn’t seem like you think you’d benefit from this product at all.” Their instinctive reaction will be to push back with a positive statement. This may also help uncover a concern of theirs that’s leading to their demeanor and otherwise wouldn’t have surfaced. For instance, they’ll respond by telling you “Well I think the product is incredible but I’m just worried about the durability.”

Now you’re making progress and can handle that objection accordingly.


22. Empathy

If you’ve ever encountered a sleazy salesperson after your money, you know how unpleasant that experience can be. The best salespeople out there are selling because they genuinely want to solve a prospect’s problem.

While you should feel excited about and proud of your solution, your reason for pitching is buyer-centric. Don’t just understand this; truly take it to heart. Empathy is contagious and the more your prospects see that you care about their outcome, the more honest and transparent they’ll be with you.


23. Value Downtime

A fairly common theme among successful people in all fields is not just that they work hard, but they also switch off sometimes.

It is very important to slow down and recharge the batteries both physically and mentally. It’s also important to spend valuable time with family and other people we care about.

A salesperson who is refreshed is going to be far better prepared than somebody who isn’t. It might seem counterintuitive, but pushing yourself constantly is only going to make you less successful in the long term.

The risk of burnout is real. Always take time to sharpen the saw.


24. Organized

Sales professionals undertake many tasks and staying on top of them can be challenging. Staying organized is the only way you’ll be able to get it all done.

Some of the many tasks include:

  • Market research
  • Negotiation with prospects
  • Monitoring competitors
  • Prepare strategies and action plans
  • Lead generation and qualification
  • Develop client referrals
  • Follow up with prospects
  • Ensure happy clients and positive relationships

Develop systems for managing these tasks. If you try to commit everything to memory or just try to wing it, tasks will fall through the cracks. In sales this means money falls through the cracks.


25. Public Speaking

Remember those sales demos and pitches we talked about? In line with presentation skills is public speaking. A crucial sales skill, public speaking doesn’t always come naturally.

Here are some tips for improving your public speaking:

  1. Talk slower. Many people get nervous and talk quickly, making it difficult for your audience to take it all in.
  2. Stop fidgeting. When we get anxious, our body can start doing nervous ticks, including tapping your foot, wringing your hands, or swaying back and forth. Monitor your body language and be as natural as possible.
  3. Maintain eye contact. While it’s tempting to look at the presentation or your feet, remember to look out at your audience. This conveys confidence.
  4. Rehearse… and then rehearse again. You can never over-practice. Come demo day, your presentation should be second-nature.
  5. Practice while distracted. If you can nail a presentation when the TV is on or while you’re cleaning the house, then you can do it while focused on your audience on the actual day.


26. Post-Sale Skills

In many cases, getting the deal is not the end of the process. Maintaining the relationship can often lead to more sales in the future.

To help encourage further sales, make maintaining a good relationship with your customers a priority. If you’re only around when you’re trying to sell something, the customer will sense that your relationship is not authentic.

That’s why it’s a good idea to keep in touch, even after a close. When the time comes, your customer will then be more likely to agree to another deal.

A simple way to accomplish this is by checking in with customers after you’ve sold something to get feedback, see if they have issues, etc. Sales reps in b2b don’t do this nearly enough but it’s like a cheat code for those who do, and customers love it.


27. Growth Mindset

Successful sales reps learn from their mistakes and are receptive to feedback. This is called a growth mindset. Sales is a skill that takes time to develop, so go into it expecting to learn and grow.


28. Closing the Deal

While it’s typically sales leaders and more senior teammates who close, this is a skill anyone in the sales cycle should work on. Closing a sale means:

  1. Getting expectations aligned. This includes asking questions about your prospect’s budget, timeline, and more to ensure they can buy into your product.
  2. Pitching a solution. Rather than focusing on your product, focus on your prospect’s problem and how you can solve it.
  3. Respond well to a potential client’s concerns. Listen to what your buyer has to say, don’t argue over objections, and be sure to respond calmly and reasonably.
  4. Convey reasonable urgency. Urgency, whether involving time or money, helps push a deal along.
  5. Final steps. This includes finishing paperwork and offering your new client resources, so they can get the most out of your product.


29. Customer Service

Closing a sale can feel like crossing the finish line, but for the customer the journey is just beginning. Try to provide A+ customer service to your clients, as it’s the best way to cultivate client referrals, loyal customers, and repeat business.


30. Conflict Management

Sales is full of rejections, complaints, and conflict. While unpleasant, as a sales professional it’s your job to handle these swiftly and politely. Your goal is to keep your client happy.

There are five different conflict management approaches, including:

  1. Accommodating
  2. Compromising
  3. Avoiding
  4. Competing
  5. Collaborating

When handling conflict, remember to focus on the facts, give everyone a chance to voice concerns, be empathetic rather than confrontational, and maintain focus on the client. If conflicts go as far as stepping on common ethical practices, you can use your organization’s whistleblowing systems to anonymously raise these concerns.



Sales is notoriously difficult, but it can also be extremely rewarding. If you thrive under pressure, enjoy hitting targets, and communicate well with others, you might find sales is a perfect fit.

Practice getting better at these 30 critical sales skills, and you’ll be well on your way towards a successful career in sales.

Hungry for more? Learn the in’s and out’s of successful sales teams with our self-paced workshop

Sales Automation – How to Automate Your Sales Process

If you’ve ever lost a deal because you forgot to send a follow-up email, or you feel like there’s barely any time left for sales after trying to schedule meetings or logging information in your CRM, then sales automation is for you.

In fact, the average salesperson only spends 34% of their time selling. The rest of their time is spent on administrative tasks, such as:

  • Writing emails.
  • Data entry.
  • Prospecting, researching leads, and finding contact information.
  • Attending internal meetings.
  • Scheduling meetings.
  • Training.
  • Reading industry news and researching sales tips.

By automating the small tasks involved in your sales process, your sales reps will have more time to sell and reach their sales goals.

Sales reps aren’t the only ones being held back by administrative tasks. Sales managers also find themselves using their time to complete tasks that could be automated, such as assigning leads to their reps.

In this article, we’ll go over what sales automation really is. After that, we’ll go over 10 ways you can automate your own sales process to maximize its efficiency.

What is sales automation?

Sales automation is the process of streamlining manual, tedious, and time-consuming tasks in your sales process so that your sales reps can focus their time exclusively on selling. This is accomplished with the use of software, artificial intelligence (AI), and other tools.

The tasks that are automated are mostly things like data entry and CRM management tasks that sales reps and their managers would otherwise do manually on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Proper automation of your sales process can improve your sales efficiency in a number of ways:

  • It allows your sales reps to focus more on sales and less on administrative tasks.
  • It can accelerate the sales cycle by expediting repetitive communication tasks like follow-ups.
  • It ensures that sales leads won’t fall through the cracks.
  • It can lead to increased customer satisfaction by reducing response time.
  • It maintains consistent sales data across your organization.

Despite what the name may imply, the goal of sales automation isn’t to replace sales reps.

In fact, the goal is to extract as much value as possible from your sales reps by opening up their day as much as possible to enable them to focus on more important things, like building relationships, improving the sales process, working on new sales methodologies, and giving their leads more personal attention.

If you’re looking into sales automation in an attempt to replace sales reps by blasting out email templates or using autodialers, you’re doing it wrong.

Sales process automation – 10 ways to automate your sales process

Put your LinkedIn prospecting on autopilot

If you’re using LinkedIn for your sales prospecting, there’s a simple way to set it up so that you don’t have to constantly run the same types of searches.

If you have a LinkedIn Premium or Sales Navigator account, you can set up custom filters to get emails from LinkedIn every day, week, or month with new potential prospects.

LinkedIn only sends new profiles, so don’t worry, you won’t see the same ones again and again.

Once you get these emails all you have to do is go through each profile. For each one that’s a fit, get their contact information and put them through your sales cadence.

If you’re the type that likes to fully automate this type of thing, you can do so with a tool called Zopto.

To use Zopto, you’ll need to have an active LinkedIn Premium or Sales Navigator account. Once you create your Zopto account, you’ll use the same filters and data points from LinkedIn Premium or Sales Navigator to tell Zopto who your target markets are.

After you’ve filtered your ideal prospects, Zopto lets you automate different levels of engagement, such as Connection Invites, Sequential Messaging, Free InMails, Twitter Engagement, or Profile Views.

Pretty soon, you’ll find your LinkedIn inbox filling up with new leads on autopilot.

For more info on Zopto, check out this tutorial.

Automate lead enrichment

Lead enrichment is all about finding out everything you can about your prospects in order to properly target your sales pitch to them.

In this case, knowledge is power. The more you know your prospect’s industry and company, as well the challenges and goals they encounter on a daily basis, the better you can tailor your pitch to their needs.

Lead enrichment tools like LeadFuze work well for this kind of thing. LeadFuze is a tool that gathers information from hundreds or thousands of data sources on over 300 million people from over 14 million companies to give you a complete, up-to-date profile of your prospects.

If you’re looking for a specific prospect, you can use their “Account Based” search to gather more information about this individual.


You can also use LeadFuze to find new prospects using their “Market Based” search tool.

For example, if we’re selling a CRM tool for enterprise companies, we might want to use this tool to search for enterprise level companies that use SalesForce.


This would give us a list of qualified leads with all of the necessary data.

If you’re getting your leads through another channel such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator, you can leverage LeadFuze’s database to automatically gather powerful lead enrichment data with their Zapier integrations.

LeadFuze integrates natively (or via 3rd party integration like Zapier) with many CRMs. This means you can tell LeadFuze which leads you’re interested in, and every day it will find new leads for you and automatically place them right into your CRM. Which leads us to…

Create and manage CRM contacts

Many sales teams still create and update their CRM contacts manually. Thankfully, there’s a better way. Most of this can be automated.

For much of this, you’re going to have to get workflow automation capabilities in the CRM you choose. This will enable you to automatically create and edit records for leads who meet a certain criteria.

For example, maybe you want to define a lead as “Qualified” if they have a certain title or role in a company and have read specific articles on your blog.

Unfortunately, this typically comes at a higher price – especially with the more robust CRMs like HubSpot or Salesforce.

If you have a decent sized team or a complex sales process, it’s worth taking the time to fit a more robust CRM into your budget and set it up properly.

However, if you’re operating on a tighter budget, Pipedrive is a good option that has a solid amount of automation for a decent price.

It’s also important to make sure you integrate your various lead sources with your CRM. That might be Facebook ad respondents, new email subscribers, event attendees, or new website leads.

If native integration isn’t available in your CRM for this, you can always use Zapier – a tool that seamlessly connects apps.

Use email templates and automate your sales email outreach

Email templates are a great way to save your sales reps tons of time.

Rather than writing emails to every prospect, templating your emails allows your salespeople to focus only on the important parts of your email outreach campaigns – personalizing the emails and managing replies.

Be careful about overusing email templates. Non-personalized email templates are easy for your prospects to spot (and ignore) and make it harder for emails coming from your domain to avoid spam filters over time.

Finding a good balance between what should be personalized and what should be templated is important. These days, including the person’s first name and company simply isn’t enough. Everyone does that.

You can balance personalization and templating by writing customized opening sentences in your outreach email for each prospect and templating the rest.

You can personalize your opening sentences by noting one of their recent accomplishments, complimenting their work on a recent blog post, or addressing their pain point on a personal level.

By personalizing all of your emails in the same way, you can easily systemize your outreach process.

If you’re in need of some email templates, they’re available in nearly all CRMs – typically in their first pricing tier. You can also find plenty for free online.

You always use the old fashioned way of copying/pasting from a word document, but that can still be pretty distracting and surprisingly time consuming. So it’s probably worth just paying for it.

If you have a decent number of prospects in your pipeline, then it’s probably worth it to pay for an outreach automation tool like Reply or PitchBox. Reply also comes with some LinkedIn automation features, but it’s not 100% fully automated like Zopto.

Many salespeople are using these templates rather than creating their own, so your prospects may get an uncomfortable sense of familiarity from these. It’s worth writing your own templates rather than using the ones available online or via your CRM or outreach tool. Just make sure you give your emails a grammar check before sending them out to avoid embarassing mistakes.

To help you write your own outreach email templates, we put together the infographic below about what makes up a good sales email.


If you’d like to post this infographic on your site, please feel free to do so! We only ask that you credit us with a link. 🙂

Saving the infographic and reuploading it to your server is totally fine, but if you prefer to embed it, just copy the code below:

Schedule calls and meetings automatically

The process of scheduling a call or meeting with a prospect can feel like the email equivalent of a tennis match. You send them a time, they send back another, you send another, and so on.

This is extremely inefficient and kills the momentum of your deal.

Fortunately, many CRM tools include this in their free tier. If you’d prefer to use an external tool, you can leverage appointment and meeting scheduling tools like Calendly or Acuity Scheduling to combat this issue.

Simply send your calendar link to your prospect and they’ll see a page like this where they can pick a time that works best for them.


Once they choose a time, a calendar invite is automatically sent to both parties.

Scheduling tools can also ask people questions while they’re scheduling a call. These can collect data points such as name, email, company, or the reason for scheduling the call.

Making use of scheduling tools is one of the sneakiest ways to save time on a day to day basis. This type of automation is one of those things that once you have it and start using regularly, it immediately becomes something that you can’t fathom living without.

Automate sales call dialing and analysis

This is only really important for people who do a ton of outbound calling, which is admittedly becoming less of a priority for many companies in this day and age.

However, if you have appointment setters or other types of cold callers, this can be huge as it removes a ton of distractions from your workflow.

The CRM tool Close has an auto-dialer built into it, but it’s not always a feature represented in CRM’s well. If you have a CRM that doesn’t have a built-in auto-dialer, you can always use software that specializes in this such as PhoneBurner, Five9, or ChaseData and integrate it with your CRM via Zapier.

If you’re looking to improve your outbound calling campaigns, then conversation intelligence tools are what you need. These tools let you quickly see summaries of all your calls — both transcribed and analyzed.

Platforms such as Gong, Chorus, and Wingman help with this by pulling out pieces of your conversation (topics you discussed, action items, competitors that were brought up, etc.) to give you insights about your opportunities.

Automate touchpoint tracking

You call a prospect, get sent to voicemail, and log the attempt in your CRM.

Call again the following week, have a short conversation with them, log the conversation in your CRM.

You follow up with an email, log it in your CRM.

Instead of manually logging the process of scoring a deal, you can automate these deal-related activities.

Many CRMs can handle this if they have features like automated email sequencing, tracking email opens and clicks, and automatic call logging.

For email tracking with a CRM, it’s often as easy as BCC’ing a unique address assigned to you by the CRM, and the emails will automatically appear in your CRM. If you’re using email outreach software, you can just set it up to always BCC that address so that the emails sync to your CRM automatically.

If your CRM doesn’t have these features, or you’d prefer to use a tool outside your CRM for something like email outreach, then make sure these tools can be integrated to log deal-driven activities in your CRM.

When it comes to CRM integrations with third party tools, native integrations are best since the developers of both apps got together to make their services work as seamlessly as possible. However, 3rd party integration like Zapier can be just as useful if a tool doesn’t integrate directly with your CRM.

If the tools don’t directly integrate with each other, you can check the available Zapier integrations for the services you’re looking at to see if you’ll be able to link them that way.

For example, let’s say we want to use Close as our CRM, but we want to use a third party automation tool for email outreach.

First, we want to see what sort of things we can do with Close using Zapier, so let’s search for the app.


If we then scroll down to their integration details and click “Actions,” we’ll see that there’s an option to update leads.


If we do the same thing for one of the email outreach tools we might consider, like Reply, we can see if they have triggers that allow us to use Zapier to make changes within our CRM when prospects open or click a link inside an email sent with Reply.

In this case, if we search for Reply, scroll down to the Integration Details section of the page, and click “Triggers,” we can see that Reply has the triggers we’re looking for.


This means that we can set up automations in Zapier so that whenever a prospect opens an email, clicks a link, or replies to an email, we can update their info in our CRM automatically.

What you can do specifically to automate your deal management will depend on the complexity of your sales process, but keeping track of these small details can help you attribute specific actions to sales success.

Create documents and proposals automatically

Sales teams spend a ton of time on proposals.

Normally, this is because salespeople have to spend time copying and pasting information from notes, emails, and various other sources to fill in the correct information on the proposal document.

Fortunately, here’s a wealth of excellent drag-and-drop editors that allow you to streamline this process and create beautiful, interactive proposals very quickly!

With many of them, you also get data insights. This means you’ll get an alert when your prospects open the proposals and how long they spend looking at the document (and in some cases, how long they spent looking at each page).

This also means you can further automate your sales process by, for example, scheduling automated emails to be sent within minutes of the prospect opening it.

PandaDoc is a pretty great option for this. They have a free tier that gives you access to e-signs, so you don’t need to pay for alternatives like DocuSign anymore.

If you’re looking to create beautiful full-fledged proposals, then Qwilr is a great option for this. They even have a huge selection of templates you can choose from if you aren’t very design-savvy yourself.

Both of these (and many more) options will integrate fairly well into your CRM and with various workflow automations.

Automate lead rotation

This is most useful for decent sized teams that are used to having a sales manager assign leads manually.

Manually assigning leads takes up precious time that can otherwise be spent on more meaningful tasks. Plus, there’s the danger a lead will slip through the cracks, which definitely hurts your team’s ability to meet the sales quota.

Not only that, but manually rotating leads can increase the amount of time it takes to contact your leads, which can reduce your conversion rate.

According to research from Harvard Business Review, most companies are not responding nearly fast enough to online sales leads.

In fact, if companies did not respond to leads within a five-minute window, they were at a high risk of losing that lead entirely.

Rotating leads is fairly easy when you have a small outfit. You’ll soon notice that, as your team grows, it can become a very time-consuming task that really doesn’t bring too much (if any) added value by doing it manually.

If you spend a lot of time digging through leads and assigning them to your reps, then go for this, but otherwise it’s safe to skip it.

If, however, you are spending a lot of time digging through leads and assigning them to your sales reps, you can set up auto-rotation inside your CRM to assign leads by geographic territory, company size, vertical, or a combination of criteria. If it’s a free-for-all, use a round robin style.

Here’s a video that shows you how to do this with HubSpot.

Automate lead scoring and prioritization

Automating your lead scoring and prioritization is the best way to keep your sales reps laser-focused on the best opportunities.

Since, according to research from MarketingSherpa, most businesses don’t use any form of lead scoring, this alone can give you a leg up on your competitors since the ROI of this is so high.


This is done by making use of an automated lead scoring system. Lead scoring software uses demographic and behavioral data to determine how qualified a lead is.

This way, salespeople know exactly which leads to prioritize.

Unfortunately, this kind of feature is typically in a higher pricing tier for most CRMs. This means that you need to have great data and a high volume of leads for it to be worthwhile.

The data is especially important since you’ll need to make rules for the leads to be scored. If you don’t have much data, then there’s really not much to score.

However, if you have the data and volume, and qualifying leads is important to you, then this is an extremely valuable form of automation. You end up spending less time speaking with leads who have a lower chance of converting.

If you prefer to use software outside of your CRM, you can do this with marketing automation software like Autopilot or ActiveCampaign. You can even connect these to your CRM with Zapier integrations.


With sales automation on your side, your sales team will be able to accomplish so much more. Implement these systems, and the results will speak for themselves!

Have you set up any automations that have helped your sales team? Let me know in the comments!

If you need further guidance when it comes to setting up automations that will help your sales team, check out our self-paced workshop!