13 Key Areas of Sales Expertise for Sales Professionals. An Excellent Guide for Sales Professional Growth and Development
Areas of Expertise
Areas of expertise (AOEs) contain the specific technical and professional skills and knowledge required for success within a professional sales role. To be proficient in an AOE, a person must display a blend of the appropriate foundational competencies and a blend of unique technical or professional skills and knowledge found in the AOEs. An individual may have expertise in one or more of the following areas.
Building sales infrastructure. Defines requirements essential for creating an efficient and unified sales environment, including necessary processes, procedures, tools, and systems; works with experts and stakeholders to design and implement appropriate solutions (for example, tool or system experts, organization development experts); tests systems against desired outcomes and resolves issues; maintains process, tool, or system usability and integrity; Identifies and proposes
innovations to advance sales force productivity; manages reporting and administrative support as required; creates and leads sales capacity planning efforts; and implements solutions with minimal disruption to sales team productivity.
Coaching for sales results. Engages sales personnel in individual or group coaching; draws out the best performance of the individual or group through observation, motivation, and developmental feedback; leverages best practices and selling standards as learning tools; provides on-the-job reinforcement and corrective feedback; models appropriate and expected behaviors; develops or encourages relationships to directly grow sales talent; develops or hones sales-related subject-matter expertise; Identifies areas of performer excellence and maximizes development in these areas; Identifies areas for improvement and addresses related obstacles; develops coaching strategies for both individuals and teams; and ensures that the salesperson’s best performance is linked to sales results.
Creating and closing opportunities. Continuously scans for prospects to achieve new sales, expand account control, and populate account pipeline; leverages customer referrals and targets new leads; follows up on leads and assesses prospect readiness to buy; performs necessary interest-building calls; builds and drives simple or complex opportunities by generating and nurturing internal and external stakeholder interest; manages sales cycle progress; conducts or orchestrates business or technical qualifications; acquires the technical expertise required for well-targeted solution design, business case justification, and subsequent negotiations; drives or manages the resources necessary for effective negotiations, including the alignment of expert input within the negotiation strategy, and asks for the business; and effectively addresses any objections or concerns, closes unique transactions, and achieves a mutually beneficial win for the buyer and seller.
Defining and positioning solutions. Drives the technical component of opportunity qualification; translates business requirements to solution requirements; shapes solutions to capitalize on seller or partner solution advantage; coordinates the additional technical expertise required for building complex solutions; creates solutions that clearly address and align with customer business needs; conducts effective technical presentations at all appropriate levels within the client’s organization; supports the sizing, scoping, and identification of delivery or deployment resources essential for accurate costing; ensures the accuracy and feasibility of all proposals and solution-oriented communications to the customer; and supports internal acceptance of proposed solutions and monitors post-sale customer satisfaction.
Delivering sales training. Understands the challenges and demands of the selling environment and leverages that insight in preparation of sales training events; seeks out nontraining-related issues and creates separation between what can be targeted through training initiatives and what cannot; prepares for instruction by reviewing materials; supplements training events with real-world examples and relevant experiences; reviews training sequencing and clarifies module organization and events or activities; sets expectations and defines expected learning outcomes; delivers instruction and stimulates discussion; orchestrates interactive events that transfer knowledge or skill (for example, break-out groups, small group discussions); develops and manages learning attendance and performance feedback systems; manages and controls training environment within specified parameters; matches training delivery to individual salesperson learning styles; and tests and scores achievement of learning outcomes.
Designing compensation. Researches industry sales compensation metrics and best practices; collaborates with others to ensure that the end-to-end compensation environment motivates and rewards the right sales behaviors and contributes to overall sales growth; ensures that the sales behaviors targeted for reward link to the overall sales and marketing strategy; ensures the company has the information and metrics necessary for accurate and on-time revenue credit and compensation pay-out; determines and proposes sales group or aggregate competitive compensation models; ensures compensation models balance the business interests of the company with the needs of a well-motivated sales force and the realities they face; Identifies areas of conflict between sales behaviors and compensation; introduces and explains new compensation processes or calculations to the sales force; and serves as the functional representative to the sales team for resolving compensation-related issues and processing exception requests.
Developing sales force capability. Assesses capability gaps and Identifies strategies and solutions to overcome them; determines new sales performance requirements associated with business strategies; Identifies learning solutions required for new product or service launches, or new sales force requirements; creates and updates sales competency profiles by meeting with relevant sales stakeholders, increasing awareness of sales context and following sound competency-based approaches to planning and development of capability; drives a competency-based approach to planning and developing capability based on a solid understanding of critical levers that will most likely increase sales results; designs and develops learning solutions essential for skill and knowledge acquisition within unique sales cultures (for example, courses, curricula, mentoring, coaching, on the job resources); utilizes rapid design delivery methods where appropriate (for example, virtual, collaborative, platform, stand-alone); manages program rollouts in the most effective manner; and measures and evaluates the impact of learning solutions.
Maintaining accounts. Actively manages account or customer portfolio; conducts account performance data analysis; generates reports essential for determining account status (for example, credit analysis, account performance assessment, contract renewal scheduling); focuses individual activities on selling priorities while determining best strategies for handling accounts (for example, renew, drop, expand selling); fulfills and troubleshoots orders, including contract formalization, resolving fulfillment bottlenecks, and troubleshooting off-shore fulfillment challenges; ensures compliance with service-level agreement terms; and provides contract administration and tracking centered on contract renewals, contract expansion opportunities, and contract terms requiring renegotiation.
Managing within the sales ecosystem. Synthesizes team data for reporting purposes (for example, sales forecasts, team progress, delivery, project results); monitors individual metrics achievement (for example, project completion, progress against goal, quota performance, technical coverage, margin); monitors budgets and controls expenditures; ensures activity meets demand (for example, sales funnel activity, project management activity, technology, margin protection); determines functional or organizational structure (for example, territory alignment, workgroup alignment, team organization); conducts recruitment, hiring, promotion, termination, and career development activities; conducts performance reviews, facilitates individual development planning, and offers career development guidance; manages expectations and individual team member responsibilities; ensures optimum collaboration links among functional areas; works with peers and upper management to optimally align workload, divide labor, and allocate resources; sponsors sales force capability assessments and incorporates findings into development planning; leverages technology to improve results and operations; conducts business analysis to align business goals with team performance; and drives and manages sales-specific actions related to product or service launch and rollout.
Protecting accounts. Gathers account intelligence and maintains current understanding of customer’s business; develops and monitors sales plans; monitors and communicates sales forecasts and pipeline activities to ensure accuracy; develops expanded relationships with customers to achieve trusted advisor status and entry into business planning activities; screens account activities and protects customers from unnecessary sales or marketing activities; monitors competitive growth in accounts and builds strategies for countering competitive messages; where warranted, determines account transition readiness to sales farming and maintains customer trust during and following this transition; and ensures customer satisfaction as well as delivery or deployment alignment with contractual terms and conditions.
Recruiting sales talent. Ensures job descriptions are accurate and include the information essential for recruiting the salespeople with the right level of knowledge, skills, abilities, and other attributes for the position; sets and aligns performance and financial expectations with sales management as well as potential candidates to establish clear recruitment parameters; orchestrates individual and professional networks, agencies, and other resources and tools required for sourcing, identifying, and selecting the most appropriate matches; conducts interviews with sales candidates; knows sales compensation plan elements and relays appropriate levels of information regarding compensation to candidates at appropriate time; maintains sensitivity to individual personalities, negotiation styles, and worldviews unique to the sales or sales support environment; contributes to effective candidate interviewing through participation in sales simulation exercises and structured behavioral interviews or other methods; provides process oversight; negotiates effectively to bring key stakeholders together and achieve a win-win deal for both the sales organization and the candidate; and facilitates sales on-boarding to ensure the mutual benefit of all recruitment stakeholders (sales organization, new hire, and recruiter).
Setting sales strategy. Engineers world-class selling performance by helping the organization expand its understanding of a professional selling systems view; establishes long-term sales pursuit and business partnering philosophies with team and colleagues; balances short-term requirements with long-term results; recognizes and advances innovative sales practices and sales team configuration strategies; promotes integrated sales automation tools and processes; develops sales territory and organizational alignments; establishes interface processes and working relationships with key business stakeholders at the executive level to build mind-share across all functions (for example, marketing, engineering, supply chain peers); and leads and evaluates change management programs that continuously improve sales performance.
Supporting indirect selling. Conducts joint planning and marketing activities at all levels within partner organizations; conducts appropriate opportunity-targeting, inventory clearance, and sales pursuit activities; builds partner business relationships essential to the maintenance of partner trust and preference; collaborates effectively with partners to present a unified position to customers; protects partner interests and ensures internal compliance with partner obligations; educates partners on products or services and motivates partner interest selling; and, where warranted, participates as a team selling member in building customer confidence in partners.