3 Things We Must Teach the Next Generation of Sales Professionals

In the fast-paced world of sales, staying up to date with the latest tools and strategies is crucial for success. Donald Kelly, a sales expert and educator, recently delivered a webinar focused on three key lessons that professors should impart to the next generation of sales students.

In his session, Donald highlighted the importance of using the right sales tools, harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI), and instilling effective accountability strategies. Watch the recap of Donald’s Stukent Digital Summit: Professional Selling session, or read on for a recap of his insights.

The Right Tools to Include in Your Sales Tech Stack

Donald emphasized the significance of equipping sales students with the right tools to excel in their roles. In today’s sales landscape, where communication and outreach have become increasingly complex, having the right technology stack is non-negotiable.

He recommended tools like Apollo.io, Outreach, and HubSpot for effective sales outreach. Apollo.io, in particular, stood out as a powerful engagement platform that streamlines the process of reaching out to prospects. This tool enables students to create customized sequences tailored to specific prospects’ needs and preferences.

Watch this clip to see how Donald uses Apollo.io with LinkedIn:

“You want to make sure that your students understand [they can use outreach sequences] to grab people’s attention on LinkedIn,” Donald said.

Students should understand the importance of personalization and sequencing when reaching out to potential clients. Each prospect is unique, and a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. By utilizing the right sales tools, students can learn to create impactful, personalized outreach campaigns that grab prospects’ attention and initiate meaningful conversations.

How to Take Advantage of Artificial Intelligence to Break Through Noise

Donald acknowledged the growing role of artificial intelligence (AI) in sales. He stressed that while students might not have access to all the advanced AI capabilities, they must grasp its principles. AI can be a game-changer in sales prospecting and engagement.

“One of the biggest things that you can do when it comes to doing an outreach is focus on things that matter to [your prospects] and not to you,” Donald said. “We’re not going to tell them to just to send an email and say, ‘Hey, my name is Brad, and this is what I can do.’ … What we want to do is focus on what matters most to those individuals right now. You can utilize artificial intelligence to do that.”

Kelly recommended using AI-driven chat tools, like ChatGPT, to gather insights into prospects’ pain points and challenges. These insights help students and sales professionals craft more relevant and impactful sales messages.

Additionally, AI can help students identify triggers and opportunities in prospecting. For instance, tracking job changes and recent LinkedIn activity can provide valuable conversation starters.

Donald’s overarching message is that AI is a tool that can assist sales professionals in delivering valuable tailored interactions, ultimately increasing those professionals’ chances of success.

Strategies to Effectively Encourage Accountability

Drawing from his experience as a sales leader and educator, Donald recognized accountability’s critical role in shaping successful sales careers. 

He recalled being too lenient with his students the first semester he taught: “I realized that was a problem,” Donald said. “So many [students] were turning in late work, and it was accepted. We needed structure. … I realized in my sales role, with my team, and with the people I work with, we have that structure. We do have those things implemented, and if I’m going prepare these students, then we must do that too.”

Donald shared how he uses daily 15-minute team huddles in his business role with his team. These gatherings aren’t about playing the role of Big Brother; rather, they’re about dissecting trends, identifying habits, and pinpointing areas needing extra attention. The focus is on collective improvement, not just individual performance metrics.

He shared two fundamental metrics that form the backbone of accountability in sales: meaningful outreach and meaningful conversations. While you can’t control the number of appointments, you can control the volume and effectiveness of outreach efforts. This approach promotes engagement and lays the groundwork for building meaningful relationships with potential clients.

Accountability doesn’t stop with the sales team; it also extends to clients. Donald introduced a tool called Aligned, which facilitates the creation of mutual action plans. He explained that visualizing the steps needed for closing a deal is a game-changer. He mentioned that 65% of people are visual learners, and using visualization tools helps buyers understand the process more clearly. This not only promotes accountability but also accelerates the sales process.

Using the right sales tools, harnessing the power of AI, and exercising effective accountability strategies are all crucial elements for success in the ever-evolving world of sales. By instilling these lessons, professors can equip their students with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in this competitive field.

Donald is the coauthor of Stukent’s “Professional Selling” courseware. Donald and his coauthor, B.J. Allen, said that the goal of the courseware is to help students prepare for a career in professional selling by focusing on knowledge and skills.

“Professional Selling: A Guide for the Modern Sales Professional” includes insights from leading selling professionals and videos created by sales executives specifically for this courseware. The materials focus on innovative and modern selling topics, such as social selling, CRM, selling analytics, value-based selling, the mental aspects of professional selling, and closing strategies.

B.J. and Donald are also authors of the “Advanced Selling and Sales Management” courseware. The courseware takes students beyond basic selling techniques, strategies, and psychology, helping them build valuable skills they can apply to careers in sales, marketing, and beyond. 

Stukent Digital Summit: Professional Selling was held online on September 22, 2023. If you want to see Stukent’s upcoming events, visit the Events page on our website.

Stukent is here to help educators help students help the world. To learn more about our first-in-the-world Simternships™ and courseware, or to get FREE instructor access to our resources, visit our website.

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