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How to Develop Competitive Sales Skills

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Feb 9, 2017 4:22:00 PM

Developing competitive sales skills focuses on being prepared to perform under pressure, in any type of situation or environment.

Sales professionals who have competitive sales skills are the ones who think of sales in the same way professional athletes think of their jobs: with confidence about their own abilities and fear of their equally skilled competitors who may be better at using their abilities.

Confidence, born from focus, attention and ongoing skill development is the chief ingredient for success, no matter what industry you are in.

So, whether you’re training yourself, or your team, it can be challenging to determine specific areas of development that are important to focus on.

 That’s why, in addition to the insights shared by Steve Bookbinder in the video above, there are 4 important lessons that you must also focus on in order to gain a competitive advantage and own your success.

Approach big challenges differently than you do day-to-day challenges

Thinking about the future tends to cause our brains to minimize the obstacles we'll face and instead focus on desired outcomes. We look at goals differently based on whether they are a short-term or long-term goals. For instance, 3-months ago when you booked a trip home to see your family, you were focused on abstract ideas like “quality time with my family and friends” or “downtime.” But I would imagine when it came time to actually leave for your trip, you were more concerned about your immediate needs like: "what should I pack" or “how am I getting to the airport?” It is only when goals get closer and more immediate that people start to think about them more concretely. So, focus on making small, incremental lifestyle changes that may feel less glamorous, but will have a much greater chance of creating real change in your life.

Always be realistic about your starting point when facing a big challenge.

There is no advantage in exaggerating your abilities or skills; it’s more productive when you acknowledge areas in need of development and then set out to improve upon those areas in order to achieve your goals. Asking the right questions will help lead you down the right path. But that requires being honest with yourself, and not coming up with an unrealistic plan that you’re overwhelmed by, instead aim to take stop steps each day. And remember, play within your own abilities, and recognize constraints of your product, your company, and the marketplace.


Focus on identifying everything that can go wrong, rather than blindly trusting optimism.

While it is good to remain positive and confident that you will prevail, that is not the fuel that will help you prepare fully and give you the confidence you will need to overcome your biggest fears. Fear makes most people stop. But we can use our fear and feeling of being uncomfortable to propel us forward. Consider holding yourself accountable by involving a friend, co-worker, or partner to hold your feet to the fire. When we have support as well as keep pushing ourselves forward by stepping out of our comfort-zone, those are times that test our abilities and help us grow and gain a better understanding of our own work styles.

Don’t stop until you reach your goal.

The competitive sales professional will stop at nothing. They are driven, focused, and persistent.

Whatever you’re selling, you’ve got competition. Somebody besides you is selling to your clients and customers on a regular basis.  Assume that it’s a zero sum game, which means that if someone is getting “more”, then someone else is getting “less.” While we can’t control all of the factors involved in making a sale, we can certainly take all the right steps to properly prepare.

In a competitive situation like a playoff game or a race, every player wants to win at the start of the game --- the consistent winner isn’t the person who wants it bad enough at the starting line; it’s the person who was willing to prepare on all of the days leading up to the big game day!


Competitive salespeople beat their competitors as well as their own best records from previous years by focusing on all four of these lessons.

To develop your skills as a sales professional, you must work towards understanding yourself and equally as important, you need to understand your competition.

The best competitive sellers are willing to do whatever it takes and they ask themselves:

  • What are my competitors doing that I should be doing? Or shouldn’t be doing?
  • How many prospecting calls will they make?
  • How will they prepare for their sales meetings? Oh and by the way, these are sales meeting that are with the same type of people you want to meet with.
  • How will they handle objections?
  • How will they answer the tough question: “how are you different from your competitors?” How will they make their offering sound compelling and ROI+?
  • What are they doing to prepare for a successful year that includes beating you at your game?

Unless you consider these questions — even if the answers scare you — you will not as likely prevail like a competitive salesperson. So gather your confidence, skills, and go out there and conquer the sales world!

4 Steps for Improving Your Time Management and Sales Skills - Free eBook

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Topics: training, sales tips, sales training, goal setting, how to be your own coach, Investing in Sales Training, salespeople, high performing salespeople, sales tools, competitive selling, how to, confident, confidence

How to Sell More Effectively by Asking the Right Questions

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Mar 4, 2014 12:00:00 PM

Selling right means asking the right questions.

This is the single most important sales tip I’ve taken away from the digital world. It’s not just about asking, it’s about learning to listen and interpret the answers.


By working with thousands of account managers/directors who’ve struggled to get the renewal and/or upgrade contract signed, I’ve been able to come up with a magic formula: making sure that as soon as you touch the account, by either getting the contract signed or inheriting the existing account, you start asking, “What are you trying to accomplish?” and “How will you measure success?” These are the standard needs assessment questions for media sellers, however they apply to sellers of all industries regardless of whether they’re a hunter (account executive) or a farmer (account manager).

These questions help to clarify the client’s objectives, and perhaps not as obviously, they improve the sales conversation itself.

The discussions following these basic questions help the seller to close the sale, then deliver the right service, and finally, encourage that client to buy again. The client will feel comfortable in knowing that they’ve been understood and that knowledge sets the right tone for the sales relationship. It also helps the seller with other accounts. By learning from their clients, salespeople can turn their knowledge into stories which can be shared with other prospects to inspire confidence in their expertise.

Failure to ask these questions and interpret their answers properly results in the dreaded: selling wrong. Even if a deal is closed, it can still be sold wrong.

How is that possible?

Most sellers base their proposals, contracts, and service level agreements on what they learn, and fail to learn, during the sales process. When customers end the relationship or fail to renew, the seller can be tempted to blame everyone except themselves. Unfortunately oftentimes the blame is theirs alone. If they didn’t ask those big questions, and maybe only probed to find the basic needs, the client’s reluctance to renew may be the seller’s fault. Only by asking the right questions and later interpreting and even negotiating the benchmarks, can a salesperson understand the client thoroughly enough to deliver the right services. This also ties into the seller’s deep knowledge of their company, so they can ensure they’ve leveraged its strengths and avoided its weaknesses.

Borrowing the two questions: “What are you trying to accomplish?” and “How will you measure success?” from digital sales, and then learning to interpret their answers will help you sell right. It’ll improve your sales conversations and solidify client relationships.

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Topics: sales training, digital media training, asking the right questions, adding value, account manager, sales questions, how to