How to Close the Skill Gap among Sales Reps

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks


Market leaders hire the top sales talent. It’s a strategy that often works well, and many try to imitate it. Sales leaders know they can’t necessarily hire the “best of the best” each and every time. Sales teams reflect this. Around 15 percent of a sales team consists of the high achievers and overperformers. Another 15 percent will fall at the other end of the spectrum. The majority of salespeople, about 70 percent of the team, are core performers.


While many factors play a role in a sales representative’s performance, one common reason for the differences is the skill gap. Even within the core performer group, some salespeople will outperform their colleagues. Closing the skill gap is an important undertaking for market leaders. It will boost sales performance, sometimes as much as 60 percent. Here’s how to go about closing the skill gap.

Provide Ongoing Training

Some businesses expect salespeople to come to them fully trained. Sales training, however, is an ongoing effort. It should occur almost every day for the rest of the sales representative’s career. A lack of proper training is one of the largest barriers to success in sales.

How training is delivered also matters. As sales leaders are discovering, the one-day workshop or one-off seminar only provides benefits to top performers. These salespeople are able to incorporate what they learn and apply it effectively after just one session. Core performers, who make up the majority of your sales team, require a longer time to make incremental changes.

The numbers prove this fact. When salespeople are given one-session training, they’ll lose up to 84 percent of what they learn over the next 90 days. To truly maximize the ROI, market leaders invest in continuous sales training.

Share Knowledge

The skill gap is often characterized as the difference between the social selling “stars” and the rest of your team. Within any sales team, there will be some sales representatives who command mastery over social selling. Some may be very experienced social sellers. Others are incredibly talented salespeople. They’re usually your top performers.

The question for you is how to ensure these social selling masters transfer and share their knowledge with those who are still learning. Each sales professional on the sales team should be making use of the same tools and processes to prevent governance and performance issues. If some people have all the knowledge and others have much less, there will be uneven use of sales tools and selling methodologies.

Encourage your social selling experts to mentor their colleagues and share their knowledge. Emphasize a focus on sales team success and how each individual salesperson can contribute to that success.

Implement Best Practices

Social selling and digital selling methodologies often emphasize the skill gap within sales teams. Your salespeople may all be on social media, using a particular sales tool, or even applying the same social selling tactics. Their success levels vary in part because their approaches are all quite different.

Some people may worry about a lack of creativity, but a single, unified approach to social selling and social media will help close the skill gap among salespeople. It also simplifies the process of monitoring and measuring success, as well as providing performance reviews. New hires will be able to adapt more easily when they can learn a single, standardized approach.

Using best practices and formalizing your organization’s approach will help to drive sales success. Collaboration tells every salesperson on your sales teams what works.

Driving Performance

Market leaders have learned how to successfully close the skill gap among their salespeople. Applying these approaches and tactics to your own sales team will give you the competitive edge and help you drive sales success.


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