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15 B2B Sales Skills to Win in Brutal Selling Conditions

Sales Training
Chris Orlob
August 24, 2023

Prospecting is a lot harder than it used to be. The golden era has come to an end. 

Insight, one of the top research firms in the world — just shared internal research revealing that SDRs are generating only 18% of pipeline these days (down from 40% market averages.)

Salesforce also discovered that 72% of salespeople expect to miss their annual quota.

Whether you’re a novice or seasoned sales veteran — no one is exempt from the harsh reality of today’s economic headwinds, no matter how good your sales strategies are.  

To beat the odds, you need to take control of your sales career — that means improving your sales techniques in a world where sales performance is tanking.

That’s why SaaS sales training programs like Pclub were designed to help you overcome today’s brutal market conditions. 

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15 Essential B2B Sales Skills to Cultivate

1. Product Knowledge

Knowing your product inside and out is a superpower. 💪

Sales reps today must be able to connect the dots from pain points to how the product resolves the pain

Communicating how your solution actually solves the problem allows for more effective sales conversations. 

Here are some practical ways for sales reps to acquire better product knowledge:

  • Read customer testimonials and learn about specific “jobs to be done.”
  • Practice role playing with solutions consultants — and listen to their sales demo call recordings to pick up expert tips and techniques. 
  • Take advanced sales demo training to understand how to better position your product during tough calls. 
  • Utilize your company’s sales training LMS and all of the product training content within it. 
  • Use the product yourself as much as possible — the best way to learn the ins and outs of any product is to actually use it. 

2. Business Acumen

Business acumen has never been more important than right now — especially if you’re selling to an executive audience

The hard reality is that experienced buyers do not want to interact with junior level salespeople, as these senior buyers prefer to work with strategic, big-picture thinkers.

Executive level decision makers tend to buy from experts, consultative sellers and trusted advisors. 

3. Active Listening

Active listening enables salespeople to bridge the gap between what buyers want and what sellers can deliver — it’s also key to effective sales discovery

A recent LinkedIn report revealed that B2B buyers rated active listening skills above relationship building because it enables buyers and sellers to be on the same page.

Tips for better active listening:

  • Be Present: When interacting with potential customers, focus your attention entirely on them. Remove distractions like your cellphone and close your laptop. 
  • Avoid Interrupting: Literally, shut up! Resist the urge to interrupt while your prospect is speaking. Let them finish, pause and then respond. 
  • Don't Jump to Conclusions: Avoid making assumptions or judgments. Keep peeling the onion and continue asking open-ended questions. 
  • Use Mirroring: This is a highly effective technique that involves repeating back what the prospect customer has said — this demonstrates active listening and helps clarify any misunderstandings.

Check out Pclub’s discovery questions list for additional guidance.

4. Communication Skills

Communication skills ensure clarity and persuasiveness in-person, on phone calls, or through social media interactions. 

CXL lists the 8 basic principles of communication as:

  • Clarity
  • Coherence
  • Conciseness
  • Correctness
  • Courteousness
  • Completeness
  • Timeliness
  • Urgency

For your messaging to resonate and persuade — avoid jargon and filler-fluff words. 

Instead, opt for simple language and a conversational tone.

5. Sales Pitching

Here are the keys to an effective B2B sales pitch: 

  • Research & Targeting: Understand your prospect's business, industry, and pain points thoroughly before the pitch. Tailor your pitch to address their specific needs and challenges.
  • Clear Value Proposition: Articulate the unique value your product or service offers. Explain how it solves the prospect's problems, adds value, or helps them achieve their goals.
  • Personalized: Customize your pitch to resonate with each prospect. Highlight features or benefits that align with their specific situation. For example, if you are selling learning management systems to government agencies — ensure that you have case studies, videos, use cases and value props that align with the needs of a buyer in the government sector. 
  • Storytelling: Corona doesn’t talk about how smooth their beer is. They tell you a story about how great it would be to have your feet in the sand while looking at the ocean. 
  • Credibility and Trustworthiness: Build trust by demonstrating your industry expertise and credibility. Share relevant credentials, certifications, or success stories.
  • ROI and Business Impact: Clearly outline the return on investment (ROI) the prospect can expect from your solution. Explain how it will positively impact their bottom line or key performance metrics.

Implementing the action items above will improve your business-to-business sales and yield better outcomes for your sales process. 

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6. Time Management

Salesforce discovered that b2b salespeople spend only 28% of their week selling.

This is a result of being bogged down with repetitive tasks like maintaining CRM data, lead management and manually following-up with prospects. 

So, how can B2B sellers balance lead generation, follow-up, closing deals, and other tasks in the sales process?

  • Outsourcing inefficiencies to sales automation tools
  • Focusing on value and quality — instead of prioritizing volume. 
  • Time blocking for different tasks such as prospecting, email follow-ups, and social selling activities on LinkedIn. 

7. Cold Calling

Cold calling is tough but here’s the bottom line — it works. 

The problem is that potential customers may never have heard of your brand before, so they see you as a “nobody.”

It’s completely different from the inbound motion — that’s why cold calling requires more precision and a specific approach. 

👉Want to crush cold calling? Here’s how to conquer the cold call 🔥

8. Sales Negotiation

Skillful navigation through larger, intricate deals involves the following:

  • Building relationships and injecting yourself into the process early.
  • Connect with the buying committee early and often to position your persona, brand as a trusted advisor.
  • Winning buyers over with value and stories. Share real-life case studies of your accounts that switched to your solution and are seeing a significant return on their decision. 

Recommended: The 11 Best Tech Sales Training Programs & Online Courses

9. Strategic Prospecting

Here are some top tips for strategic sales prospecting:

  • Laser Focus on ICP: Target prospects most likely to convert based on factors like industry, company size, demographics, and pain points. 
  • Get Warm Intros: Utilize your network of colleagues, team members and friends for referrals and introductions to qualified leads. 
  • Utilize Social Media: LinkedIn is a powerful platform for B2B prospecting. Some prospects are very active on social channels, but impossible to reach via email. 
  • Cold Emailing & Cold Calling: Keep it short, concise, targeted and relevant. Prepare a template and keep practicing your sales techniques. Be respectful of the prospect's time, introduce yourself succinctly, and have a clear ask. 
  • Get Referrals: Encourage satisfied customers to refer you to other businesses in their network. Word-of-mouth referrals are often the highest converting channels. 

10. Account-Based Selling

This involves sales efforts that are targeted and personalized for individual B2B buyers.

Account-based selling enables salespeople to focus on high-value accounts and engage with key decision-makers within those accounts through customized outreach.

There are four steps to follow for the best success: identifying target business accounts, creating outreach, prospecting, and measuring the right ABM metrics.  

11. Social Selling

Leveraging social media for business connections and nurturing leads is a non-negotiable for modern sellers. 

Here are some great social selling tips for success on platforms like LinkedIn:

  • Optimize Your Profile: Ensure your profile is appealing, relevant and updated. Use a high-quality photo and write a compelling headline and summary.
  • Share Content: Share valuable and relevant content like industry news, articles, blog posts, videos, and infographics. Aim to position yourself as a subject matter expert.
  • Engage Authentically: Don't just repost corporate content from your company blog. Engage with your network authentically. Comment on posts, ask questions, and provide thoughtful insights. Building relationships requires genuine interaction.
  • Utilize Video: Video content is one of the best ways to stand out — whether it’s live streams, webinars, or short videos — these can be highly engaging. Share insights, product knowledge, or interview clips. 

12. Data Analysis

Companies that utilize a modern data stack for measuring marketing and sales performance are 1.5x more likely to attain above-average growth rates than their competitors (according to Mckinsey).

CRM data analysis is another crucial skill for sellers — although it’s not their primary responsibility, as this is typically reserved for sales ops or revenue ops. 

13. Sales Enablement

Sales enablement involves the alignment of marketing, CS, and product teams to support the sales function.

This is done using relevant training, coaching, content, and communications.

When done right, sales enablement leads to a boost in your revenue, deal size, and win rate.

Sales reps can also close new deals and maintain existing customer relationships.

14. Consultative Selling

Consultative selling is also known as needs-based selling.

It focuses on creating value and trust with prospects by discovering their needs first.

Serving as a trusted advisor offering custom-made solutions is a skill you cannot do without in today’s competitive B2B marketplace.

Consultative selling reflects much of what this guide explains:

  • Prioritize active listening over talking — and never interrupt!
  • Demonstrate business acumen. 
  • Understand their industry and key problems. 
  • Personalize your sales pitch to their use cases. 
  • Provide massive value — submit deposits often and early. 
  • Be an expert advisor and offer helpful solutions. 
  • Demonstrate how your product or service will provide a clear ROI.
  • Handle objections with class and respond thoughtfully. 
  • Play the long-game and don’t jump the gun. 
  • Ask for feedback and learn from your mistakes. 

15. Sales Presentation Skills

While B2B marketers use storytelling in different ways, the same cannot be said for B2B sales calls as they do not involve many stories.

Instead, they ramble about the various features of a product. The sales call lacks a structured narrative. Instead, they attempt to persuade through a demo or a list of incentives.

This is how positioning expert April Dunford describes it:

“If I listen in on a sales call, the experience for the customer is a bit like they’re walking and standing in a wind tunnel of words relating to features.”

Learning how to craft stories with an engaging narrative is a major key to becoming a high performer.

Characteristics of High-Performing B2B Sales Teams

  • Ongoing Sales Training: Ongoing sales training teaches your sales team new sales techniques, new software tools, innovative selling tactics, or a combination of those skills.
  • Ongoing Sales Coaching: Ongoing sales coaching enables sales teams to fine-tune their strategies, messaging, and approaches to stay sharp and solve the ever-changing customer needs. It also keeps a sales manager accountable for empowering their teams.
  • Team Collaboration: Yesware research reveals that companies that implement sales team collaboration grow 2.5x more than companies that don’t.
  • Metrics and Goals: Sales metrics help to measure and improve sales team performance. As the popular saying goes, “You cannot improve what you cannot measure”, sales metrics provide useful data to assess a company’s alignment with its goals and what can be done to improve it.
  • Relationship Building with B2B Customers: Relationship building with customers helps to establish trust and credibility. When a buyer feels that they have a good relationship with a sales rep, they're more likely to trust his/her advice. And, this leads to repeat business and increased profitability. Customer relationship management is important to B2B sales reps.
  • Getting in Front of Decision-Makers: Engaging with decision-makers throughout the sales cycle enables you to save time, boost your ability to be heard by authoritative b2b customers, and have opportunities to sell higher-ticket products or services.
  •  Integrated Sales and Marketing: Alignment between sales and marketing strategies leads to revenue increases, shortened sales cycles, and higher conversion rates.
  • Customer-centric Sales Process: Centering the B2B sales process on the customer leads to more sales, a revenue boost, and business-to-business sales success.

It’s Tough Out There — Upskilling Can Help

To recap, top salespeople possess many, if not all, of the following skills:

  • Product Knowledge
  • Active Listening
  • Communication Skills
  • Sales Pitching
  • Time Management
  • Business Acumen
  • Cold Calling
  • Sales Negotiation
  • Strategic Prospecting
  • Account-Based Selling
  • Social Selling
  • Data Analysis
  • Sales Enablement
  • Consultative Selling
  • Advanced Sales Presentation Skills

These skills are most valuable for the ongoing evolution of the B2B sales environment.

There’s therefore the need for continuous learning and adaptation for B2B salespeople and sales teams.

And, you’re better off investing in Pclub’s sales training programs for salespeople and sales leaders. Integrating both types of programs in your organization can lead to sustained sales success.

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Profile picture of Alex Moffitt

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