How to Hone Your Sales Skills Beyond Cold Calling

March 29, 2021
Cognite
Cognite

Most sales leaders know about the time-tested power of cold calling and sales presentations. But these two strategies only touch the surface of what sales can do. 

Sales isn’t just about the product or idea you’re trying to sell. For Levelset Strategic Account Executive Michael Kungl, it’s about knowing the ins and outs of your prospect and bringing unbridled enthusiasm to the table — no matter the size of the client. 

“If you show up to every meeting as if it’s the most important one that you’ve had all quarter, your customers will follow suit and will trust you as the person who has their best interests in mind,” Kungl said. 

For Kungl and other local sales leaders, finding success in sales requires taking the time to forge real human connections — and that’s something that can be found on a simple battle card. 

Built In Austin checked in with Kungl and sales leaders from Cognite and SailPoint to hear what they think are the most essential sales skills and how they’ve refined their strategies over time. 

 

Chad Bullard
Senior Director of Strategic Accounts

What skill do you consider to be the most essential for your success as a salesperson, and why?

I believe the most essential skill to be successful as a salesperson is to really listen to your customers. So many salespeople head into meetings with what they want to say, what product they want to pitch and the PowerPoint presentation deck they have practiced. They miss out on the most important thing, which is to ask discovery questions and listen to the customer.

 

What’s another skill that is less obvious or less appreciated that you also consider critical for sales success, and why is it so important?

Another skill that is less obvious is early and often qualification. The time and resources for most salespeople are limited so it’s critical to make sure you maximize your time on deals that will provide significant value to your customer, have a budget, can be technically achieved and provide near-term results. It’s essential to analyze your deals against these metrics early and continuously. 
 

I believe the most essential skill to be successful as a salesperson is to really listen to your customers.’’


Throughout your sales career, what specific steps have you taken to strengthen these skills and what advice do you have for sales pros looking to do the same?

There are several key steps I’ve taken throughout my career to strengthen my skills. I continuously look for opportunities to learn from others who have been successful, surround myself with a solid sales support team and work hard to understand my customer’s business and industry. I also value gaining trust and credibility with my customer and take time to analyze my lost deals and what I would apply differently going forward. 

 

Victoria Abeling
Vice President of WW Inside Sales

What skill do you consider to be the most essential for your success as a salesperson, and why?

The dictionary defines curiosity as “eager to know or learn something.” I believe curiosity is the most fundamental skill as humans build relationships, nurture partnerships, make friends and stay genuine. In sales, it teaches you that you must provide value to the customer. Curiosity is how you do that. Asking questions to help a customer realize the value you are presenting is an important skill a salesperson must hone.

 

What’s another skill that is less obvious or less appreciated that you also consider critical for sales success, and why is it so important?

Many people who know me know that I admire Bobby Bones from “The Bobby Bones Show.” His motto is “Fight. Grind. Repeat.” In simple terms, this means it is OK to make a mistake. Let me repeat this: It is OK to make a mistake. In sales, you will always make mistakes but what you do about it will set you apart and drive your ultimate success. This is not just a critical “skill.” It leads to self-awareness, emotional IQ and grit. These three descriptions usually come to mind when hiring for sales. I am very bullish about the fact that, until you know how to fight, grind and repeat, you will not be successful.
 

In sales, you will always make mistakes. What you do about it will set you apart and drive your ultimate success.’’


Throughout your sales career, what specific steps have you taken to strengthen these skills and what advice do you have for sales pros looking to do the same?

As I mentioned above, making mistakes is a natural and expected part of your sales career progression. Sometimes these mistakes can set you off of your path. Do not be afraid if your course takes you to a “truck stop” or if point A to point B is not a direct line. I took multiple different paths in my own career before I ended up where I am today. I attribute all of those experiences, emotions and learning stages to this success. You will get a more rounded resume, set yourself apart from other candidates, show you are open to new ideas and ultimately prove to be a more valuable asset to your company.

 

Michael Kungl
Strategic Account Executive

What skill do you consider to be the most essential for your success as a salesperson, and why?

Empathy. People want to buy from people whom they like and who understand them. If you are a master of your own product but have no idea what the day-to-day is like for your customer, you’ll struggle to build a meaningful relationship. Getting to know your customer, understanding what keeps them up at night and understanding what impact your company will have on this person’s life will allow you to sell more effectively.

 

What’s another skill that is less obvious or less appreciated that you also consider critical for sales success, and why is it so important?

Excitement. It’s easy to show excitement when you finally book that meeting with the white whale on your target list. But it’s also just as easy to go through the motions when you are working with the smaller accounts. The reality is that the buying experience plays a big part in whether or not a company will purchase your solution. Excitement, just like energy, is contagious. If you show up to every meeting as if it’s the most important one that you’ve had all quarter, your customers will follow suit and will trust you as the person who has their best interests in mind.
 

People want to buy from people whom they like and who understand them.’’

 

Throughout your sales career, what specific steps have you taken to strengthen these skills and what advice do you have for sales pros looking to do the same?

I got lucky in strengthening these skills because I started at Levelset when we were a 30-person company. Not only was I selling, but I was also part of the customer success and support departments. That meant that there were plenty of times when I had to drive a customer’s document to the post office 15 minutes before closing to ensure they met a critical deadline. To this day, I still think about the anxiety I felt on those drives because it helped me understand how my customers were feeling and how they were putting their trust in me to deliver for them.

If you are like me and only responsible for new logo hunting, I would recommend joining the occasional customer training or account management call. Not only will you have the opportunity to see how your company has impacted the customer after the sale but you will also be able to gather stories you can share with the next prospect that comes your way. Don’t forget to ask for a referral from those happy folks as well. 

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