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selling capabilities training programs

Sales Capabilities Required to Compete

Build a Set of Agile Sales Skills to Engage the Buyers of Today

How the Right Sales Capabilities Set Your Team Apart

In the selling environment of today, sales professionals need a wider range of capabilities. Developing diverse selling capabilities helps sales professionals stay agile and adaptable amidst market changes and increasing customer demands.

However, there is no single competency that drives sales excellence — rather, it is a collection of behaviors and skills across the selling process that need to be understood and practiced.

What are Sales Capabilities?

Sales capabilities are the combined skills, strategies, knowledge, and resources that sellers use to succeed in their roles. These capabilities are essential for achieving sales targets, building customer relationships, and driving revenue.

Sales capabilities can be improved through training, experience, and ongoing professional development. To stay competitive in their markets, successful sales organizations develop a sales capability framework to identify what excellence looks like for various sales roles – and which sales capabilities should be developed to drive the most impact.

Every sales capability falls into one of four categories that link to a specific part of the selling process:

  1. Create opportunities
  2. Win deals
  3. Negotiate to maximize value
  4. Grow accounts

Here, we break down the specific skills that form each sales capability.

sales capability categories

Create Opportunities

Prospecting into new or existing accounts is one of the greatest challenges facing sales teams today. Gaining access to decision-makers and earning their precious time is increasingly competitive.

To effectively create new opportunities, sales professionals need to develop the following skills:

  • Territory Management: Selling is more resource-intensive than it has ever been, so sales professionals must optimize their time. This involves identifying high-potential territories, prioritizing current customers and prospects, and creating an actionable schedule.
  • Prospecting: Sales professionals should target their markets by understanding common buyer profiles, defining the seller’s Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), identifying key prospects, and recognizing where sellers can provide meaningful value to customers. When the seller's solution matches the needs of a buyer who fits the ICP, it doesn't just improve the chances of closing but also lays the groundwork for a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship.
  • Value Messaging: Value messaging works when it addresses the needs of each stakeholder. To do so, sellers should understand the various needs of all decision-makers. Then, clearly express the solution's value in the context of the customer’s business.
  • Gatekeeper Management: A common challenge for sellers is leveraging existing connections to access decision-makers (or even other business units for cross-selling). To navigate these gatekeeper relationships successfully, sellers must learn to use collaborative dialogue, tactfully ask for an appointment or referral, and move up the decision chain.
View pipeline-building sales training programs

Win Business

The primary goal of sales reps is to win new business. To do this they need to adapt to changing customer needs, engage effectively, and build momentum toward closing deals by using these skills:

  • Call Planning: Effective call planning is essential to provide immediate value to time-pressed customers. Sales professionals must use research to address customer needs and deliver value early in the conversation. A failed initial conversation often leads to no further engagement.
  • Risk Positioning: Risk positioning involves making customers aware that every decision carries some level of risk, even maintaining the status quo. Sales professionals should help customers assess decision risks and demonstrate that while risks can't be completely eliminated, they can be managed, balanced, and offset by positive outcomes.
  • Understanding Needs: By using questioning skills to uncover customer needs and buying requirements, sellers can convert that information into insightful recommendations. The more details they gather, the more effectively they can position the solution.
  • Storytelling: Emotions influence every decision, so sales professionals must connect emotionally with the customer by presenting the solution within a narrative.
  • Objection Resolution: Objections are an inevitable part of the selling process. Rather than avoid them, sales professionals must embrace objections as opportunities to uncover the root cause of an issue and reinforce value.
  • Virtual Engagement: Sellers must be able to communicate effectively through digital channels in a way that encourages customers to openly discuss their needs. This skill is critical to success in a digital setting in which distractions run high.
  • Accessing Decision Makers: Decision-making authority is often spread across multiple stakeholders. Sales professionals must identify who controls different stages of the buying process to access the right individuals and build consensus among stakeholders who are motivated by different factors.
View sales training programs to win more business

Negotiate to Maximize Value

The last mile of a deal is the negotiation phase, often where opportunities can slip away. Sales professionals need to build their confidence and negotiation proficiency to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. The skills required to accomplish this include:

  • Strategic Negotiating: Negotiating for mutually beneficial outcomes is crucial in sales. The sales professional must confidently navigate negotiations by strengthening relationships, focusing on value, and avoiding adversarial tactics.
  • Proactive Control: Controlling means safeguarding the sale's scope during negotiations by finding ways to address the customer’s needs without reducing deal size. This skill is crucial because it prevents the financial value of the deal from thinning in the final stages.
  • Value Reinforcement: Sellers should reinforce trust and credibility after negotiations by following up. This sustains competitive distinction, strengthens relationships, and lays the foundation for account growth.
  • Intentional Trading: Collaboratively trading with buyers is a potent negotiation tool that safeguards against concessions in the deal.
  • Demand Conversion: Sales professionals should recognize that customer demands stem from underlying needs. A consultative approach effectively uncovers these needs through questioning. Needs are easier to address than demands because they can be satisfied in many different ways without limiting the scope of the sale.
  • Price Protection: To maintain the price, understand the root of the customer's objection. Often, a request for a lower price arises from other concerns like payment terms or misunderstanding the solution's value.
Learn about our Sprint Negotiations™ sales training program

Grow Accounts

Selling into a customer's white space is critical for boosting account value and improving client relationships. Sellers should focus on these key skills to proactively grow accounts:

  • Account Strategy: Creating an effective account strategy involves customizing an approach to meet each decision-maker's unique needs and distinguishing solutions from competitors, including the status quo. This strategy allows sales professionals to stand out not just by what they offer but how they engage with customers.
  • Value Explanation: Sales professionals must be prepared to express the ROI of each solution to various stakeholders. This starts with understanding customer needs through effective questioning. Without this information, sellers can't position their product's value in a way that is useful to the customer.
  • Expanding Access: Sales professionals must grow their existing relationships within an account to establish rapport with multiple stakeholders. By expanding access to decision-makers, sellers can influence stakeholder alignment and build consensus during the buying process.
  • Account Team Alignment: Cohesion aligns account teams. Sales professionals must know how to present a unified front to customers, including seamless transitions, involving subject matter experts who are unaccustomed to selling, and keeping messages concise.
  • Navigate Politics: To navigate stakeholder politics effectively, sales professionals must tailor value conversations to different buying personas. The CFO's ROI priorities differ from the COO's. Addressing these distinctions helps gain broad support for the seller's solutions.
  • Competitive Defense: To defend against competitors, act as a trusted advisor by constantly looking for opportunities to add value. Keep in mind that bringing value to the relationship doesn’t always need to result in a sale.
  • Finding White Space: Building on an existing customer relationship is easier for business growth than finding new accounts. Sales professionals can use this foundation to discover untapped opportunities to uptier and cross-sell.
  • Channel Management: Sales channels have distinct business models with varying costs, advantages, and limitations. Successful sellers engage different channel partners to maximize coverage and offer value to diverse customers. Recognizing channel partner differences also helps organizations measure success and enhance sales productivity more effectively.
View account growth sales training programs

Sales Capability Development with Richardson

Success in sales comes from these capabilities that equip sellers to navigate an increasingly complex buying process. Each capability discussed above links to a specific part of the selling process, and as a result, sales professionals learn when and where they need to exercise each to build and maintain momentum to closing.

However, we understand sellers in different roles need different levels of proficiency across each competency. Additionally, there are scenarios where focusing on specific skills will deliver more immediate results than a generalized program. That's why our solutions are always customized to your needs.

We work with you to define performance expectations for each role on your team, identify gaps in capabilities, create personalized learning paths, and provide tools for ongoing sales coaching and performance improvement, adherence to best practices, and continuous development. Then we'll map out the necessary competencies and proficiency levels for each sales role, resulting in a dynamic sales capability model as seen in the example below.

sales capability model

For a more in-depth look at building a sales competency framework, explore our blog post: Defining a Sales Competency Framework to Drive Top Performer Behavior

These efforts culminate in a comprehensive sales capability framework that strategically drives meaningful return on investment, both now and in the future.

multigenerational sales force webinar

Brief: Multi-Role Sales Training Curriculum

Learn how to build the right selling skills for every role in your sales organization.


Deep & modern sales curriculum enables you to develop your individual sellers against role-based competencies while achieving consistency across teams.

what makes richardson sales performance different

Our customization approach ensures we fully reflect your unique selling environment while leveraging best-in-class training content to ensure efficiency and relevancy.

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A modern delivery approach that includes live and virtual training workshops in which participants learn and practice skills complemented with a digital, blended learning journey that reinforces, sustains, and certifies desired behaviors.

international sales training company

Build agile selling skills within your sales teams so that they can lead customers through a new, dynamic and digital buying journey. Agile selling skills and an outcome-focused pursuit plan are the future of selling.

agile sales skills training

Our technology provides visibility into performance so that we can measure progress and deliver real-time insights.

data driven sales performance improvement

Why Richardson

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