What makes a salesperson great is not the number of conversions they make or products they sell, but in building great customer relationships. They must be keener on satisfying their customer’s needs and demands rather than on selling off their products. They showcase high resilience and empathy toward solving their customers’ problems with their skills and expertise. High-performing sales executives manifest their expertise across diverse domains including but not limited to buyer engagement, communication, personalization, and technological innovation.
“Every good executive needs to be data-oriented and understand finance related to overall business structure—the where’s and why’s of how monies are assigned.”
While there are myriad other ways to develop this expertise, in direct selling your distributor requires specific skills to please their customers, master your products, and meet the perpetual market competition. Sales training alone would not help, they should be modeled in each and every aspect of their personal and professional development.
Challenges in the direct sales industry impacting distributors
“The channel is grappling with change at a fundamental level, from current complexities to digital and regulatory driven opportunities.”
The channel as a whole is undergoing a tremendous transformation in terms of teams and technology. Remote work expectations and regulatory complications are disrupting the balance of the industry. The same has greatly influenced the distributors in the field. While adapting to customer-centricity has offered some sort of a consolation for the companies, relentless competition and wavering market conditions have kept the industry on its toes.
Companies that have neglected the effect have struck adversities losing a good amount of customers and distributors. The realization is slowly sliding in with companies resorting to digital opportunities to alter the effect.
“You can carry on with business as usual, but you’re going to be losing executives left and right and constantly replacing people. Take time to get to know your team and make them feel supported. Right now, more than ever, it’s about building really strong community.”
Companies must help their salesforce cultivate necessary skills in all possible ways they could. This helps establish meaningful brand relationships glued with trust and loyalty. Upskilling distributors will also double up their productivity offering companies assured conversions and an improved ROI.
Top distributor sales skills required in direct selling
The skill development team at Epixel MLM Software has curated the top must-have skills direct sales distributors need to be successful in direct selling.
Good executive knows good prospecting
Prospecting forms the base of every distributor’s direct selling career. Strategic sales prospecting is the best approach a distributor must adopt to make their mark in the sales arena. Identifying the right prospect profile, their pain points, and concerns and then hitting the target helps them in establishing meaningful relationships.
A good salesperson connects in prospect-preferred ways and makes themselves available for them at all times.
How can companies help distributors to prospect better?
Track down quality leads with nurture campaigns and predictive lead scoring techniques.
Deliver insights on prospect profiles with an automated CRM.
Equip them with sales best practices and marketing tools like campaign trackers, event planners, and personalized ad campaigns.
In a world that spins on data, salespeople should be data-driven in all that they do. Right from prospecting to conversions to retaining customers for the long term, distributors can leverage the power of data and apply it to each area of their sales funnel.
They should also be good at understanding finance-related business structure—how resources are assigned and the turnover each resource contributes to the overall ROI of the organization.
How can you help your distributors leverage the power of data?
A centralized data management system can give distributors access to all the information they need.
Train them on how to derive insights from CRM data.
Give them a personalized dashboard view of their own data—their sales performance, commissions, and ranks. This would encourage them to do better.
An expert analyst
With so much data in hand distributors should know how to interpret it for the good of their customers and themselves. Customers expect salespeople to be dependable and fact-driven and able to answer each of their questions and concerns. As expert analysts distributors can identify the right kind of sales data to derive meaningful insights that would help them improve their bottom line.
Analyzing sales data gives reps the opportunity to identify the right buyer personas, top-performing products, market opportunities, and industry insights. It enables salespeople to also identify patterns in product performance, customer behavior, and market trends. Data-driven sales decisions make a greater impact than decisions made on intuitions.
How to train your salesforce to be a better analyst?
Train them to decode data from CRM that is crucial to their sales process.
Leverage CRM to deliver essential sales metrics and KPIs that would help them achieve sustainable growth.
Equip them with analytical tools for themselves to analyze the results and amend their sales strategies.
Employ predictive analytics software to automate your sales forecasting for your sales reps.
Market research tools can also help them get a greater understanding of the market and its conditions.
Understand business drivers
A smart salesperson should know the key drivers of the business. How the product they sell is making an impact on the company's overall ROI. They should also know the role they are playing in building the success of the company.
Distributors must be capable of identifying and using measurable metrics like conversion percentage, website traffic, new customers, product pricing, product performance, team performance, etc. to improvise their sales strategies.
What key factors should a salesperson track?
Identify the Key Performance Indicators.
Monitor customer satisfaction score.
Observe product performance in the market.
Identify customer, industry, market, and competitor trends.
Track campaign performance.
Be tech savvy
Technology in the sales domain has undergone drastic changes redefining approaches and results. From video calls to virtual selling, technological advancements have complemented the success of sales executives across various sales aspects like lead filtering, prospecting, and marketing. Technology helps salespeople to be attentive and focused. An elite salesperson knows how to leverage technology to solve customer concerns.
Today's distributors are tech-savvy social media experts with exceptional communication skills. The challenge organizations face is that being attached so much to the technology, they yearn for companies that adopt technology and change more readily.
So what should direct selling organizations focus on to satisfy their technically competent distributors?
Automated and gamified training sessions with blended learning.
Personalized customer support module.
Shareable shopping cart and product catalogs.
Automated marketing module with personalized digital ads and campaigns to market across channels simultaneously.
Buyer engagement platform with exclusive rewards and loyalty programs.
Leadership quality of a distributor takes them way forward in their sales process. Especially in direct selling, a business that rewards distributors for their team effort, building successful teams should be an innate ability a salesperson possesses.
True leaders are people who lead their teams with empathy. They help their fellow distributors succeed while also investing in their personal success. They must be committed to striving toward their goals together with their teams’.
How can you prep your distributors to lead?
Run sponsor programs that reward distributors for their team efforts.
Provide a streamlined sponsor interface to host support sessions for downline distributors in real-time.
A good support system can help your distributors collaborate and communicate with their teams.
Help them track their team performance with team analytics tools.
Adaptability and flexibility
The two factors that drive sales today.
Being adaptable to changing market conditions, industry trends, and customer preferences will help salespersons conquer the market. Coupled with adaptability, a salesperson should have a flexible mindset to accompany their customer expectations. Flexibility in sales often proves fruitful in building deep customer relationships.
Customers expect expertise and attention from their sales executives at all times. Hence distributors should be attentive and committed to serving their customers in every way possible. They should practice active listening with deeper and more meaningful conversations. At the same time, they should skillfully accept rejections. After all, it is the other side of the same coin.
5 ways distributors can accrue adaptability and flexibility in direct selling
Identify and understand buyer personas before approaching.
Stick to the prospect’s schedule.
Personalize customer interactions.
Build up your emotional marketing skills.
Accept rejections as a way to learn to be better next time.
In-depth product knowledge
Nobody accepts a salesperson who doesn’t know what he sells. While excellent communication and organizational skills are a must, in-depth product knowledge and subject matter expertise always stand a level above.
Deep and extensive product knowledge helps salespeople win their prospect’s satisfaction and trust. Being able to relate a product that he/she is selling to the prospect’s pain points is definitely going to create a win-win situation.
In addition to winning the prospects’ trust, product knowledge helps salespeople believe in themselves and in what they are selling.
How to ensure that your sales reps are product experts?
Make product training a part of your distributor onboarding process.
Ensure that your product launches host your salesforce, virtually or physically.
Give access to all your organizational information that they would need in the course of their sales process.
Run surveys and leaderboards to measure the proficiency of your sales experts.
Building stronger customer relationships
Conversions alone do not promise long-term customer relationships. There is more to it that adds satisfaction and loyalty that in turn results in long-term relationships. So, conversions alone should not be the sole and focus of a salesperson. Instead, a smart salesperson focuses on exceeding customer expectations. They should be able to deliver extra value along with what a customer needs.
Buyer-responsive selling is an excellent way to get straight into the customer’s heart by providing the buyer with the right things they need at the right time. Establishing trust is also important in bonding customer relationships. Emotional intelligence is the right soft skill to do that. This lets salesperson sense, understand and apply their own emotions to reciprocate with that of the buyer.
How to help them build meaningful and long-lasting customer relationships?
Create a central hub to manage customer information so distributors can access this to provide personalized targeted campaigns.
Build trust with social proofs such as case studies, white papers, customer testimonials, etc.
Employ Natural Language Processing techniques in your customer support system to decode customer emotions and overcome problems skillfully.
Smartly engaging prospects across various channels increases the odds of winning a conversion. Today’s sales executives are social media geeks who increasingly concentrate their efforts on social media to leverage the benefits of social selling.
“91.9% of U.S. marketers were expected to use social media for marketing purposes in 2021 alone.”
Social selling promises distributors with better win rates. It also makes the tedious process of prospecting simpler by providing distributors with quality leads.
What social selling techniques can be employed to boost sales conversions?
Identify your target audience—their age, interests, and buying preferences—and their preferred social channel.
Personalize and creatively deliver content that attracts them to your brand.
Share social proof such as customer recommendations and reviews on your channel.
Leverage user-generated content to your advantage.
Regularly monitor your social media analytics to strategize better.
Apart from these skills that they are expected to develop personally, organization plays a crucial role in molding an elite salesperson out of their distributor. Organizations must invest in training their distributors rightfully through compensation and compliance.
Complicated compensation plans can breed confusion and frustration among distributors leading to a loss of confidence in the products they are selling and distrust in the company and the direct selling channel as a whole. Keeping compensation plans simple and straightforward can help companies earn distributor trust and confidence.
Companies have a huge part to play in molding skillful distributors. People who joined the sales arena after the new normal often stagger, they don’t know how to thrive in the new normal. Hence in the face of adversity, organizations must support them to build a mutually beneficial relationship.