In your personal life, sometimes those words feel like an insult. A lot of the time, your old friends or family members use that phrase to imply that you have not stayed true to who you once were.
But in the business world, it is a whole other story.
“You’ve changed” becomes a true compliment. It implies professional development, which is exactly what you want as an industry leader.
It means that you recognize opportunities for growth and you capitalize on them.
You yourself have gone through professional growth. But what about your employees? What about the many people you lead? Their success is your organization’s growth. You need to give them chances to develop and foster an environment that lets them do just that.
It does not matter what industry you are in. The bottom line is this: your team must experience professional growth, or whatever industry you are a part of will leave them behind.
What is Professional Development?
So what do we mean by that term: “professional development”?
In short, it is the process of continuing to maximize your learning opportunities in your career. You could take part in a professional development program. You can also attend virtual or in-person training courses.
The goal here is to:
- Develop new skills and improve existing ones
- Remain in-the-know on new and emerging trends and technologies
- Further your career
A lot of businesses require their employees to take part in professional learning. Are you one of those businesses?
If not, it is time to consider becoming one. Some professionals have to do so to maintain their licenses and certifications. Others, like sales team members, do not have to, but they maintain a competitive edge when they do.
Why is Professional Development Important in Sales?
If you clicked here because you are a sales pro, you made the right choice.
“But why does my sales department need to partake in professional development activities? We are the best of the best in our market. At least, I think we are…”
If you think of your company as the top-notch sales business among your competitors, that’s great! It means you are confident in your team and everyone’s capabilities.
And yet, professional development does not start and end with that confidence. There are a lot of areas you could be overlooking. It is easy to blind yourself with company loyalty.
Do you know what else blinds you to the areas you could improve? You guessed it: money.
It costs a lot of it to pay each employee, provide them with benefits and take care of taxes in the meantime.
Even recruiting top talent every time you feel like a sales rep is lagging behind costs both time and money. How much time, though? As it turns out, three to five months of it.
You need a designated team to pour over endless resumes and cover letters. They have to host interviews, onboard and train every new staff member.
The best way to solve any of these stressors? With professional development. That is why it is so important in sales, where every hour wasted is another dollar lost.
Think about ongoing development activities. With these, you cut out risk and maximize internal skill sets. Most important of all, you should invest in your existing workers. This shows them that you care about their professional development. That builds trust and retains top talent.
Most Common Professional Development Resources
As you well know, and as we have talked about many times before, everybody has a different style of learning. You cannot take a multipurpose approach to a team full of people who all serve an individual purpose.
Below, we compiled a list for you. It contains the most common professional development resources out there right now. And if you keep reading, you will find those core skills you need to build in your team.
As you pick through them, there is one thing you must keep in mind. The key is to align your teams’ learning styles with relevant content. This content should be for their current careers and the ones they are working towards.
Here are some of the most popular resources you will find as you research which is best for your business:
- TED Talks
- YouTube videos
- Free courses and webinars
- Online or in-person classes
- Sales training boot camps
- 1:1 coaching and mentorship
Essential Skills for Professional Development
You could be a business owner, sales rep, or sales manager. You might not consider yourself to be any of those. No matter your job title, professional development is a dead-set way to push yourself to the top.
Now, we have 10 essential skills you need to hone for development opportunities. The best way to achieve the uniform results you need for your business? With the right training programs. First-rate training courses will address and improve the following skillsets.
Entry-level employees. Shift supervisors. Mid-level managers. Sales marketers. CEOs.
At first glance, you might not see too much in common.
All of these people and more are leaders.
Do you believe that only sales managers and business owners are leaders? If so, it is time to rethink.
In fact, almost every single worker within your organization fills a leadership role at some point or another.
You need each and every one of your employees to develop their leadership skills. The benefits of this type of professional development skill never seem to end.
Do you want your sales reps to be confident in what they sell? Hint: your customers and prospects do!
What about opportunities for development for all? Hint: your workers are bound to stay with you longer if you provide them.
Either way, curate these skills as you build upon professional development. Once you start to master them, workers with once-untapped potential will come out of the woodworks. They will ask for more responsibility and come into work more motivated than they have ever been.
Verbal and Written Communication Skills
Communication, communication, communication; we cannot drill that word into your head enough.
Without communication, businesses fail. That is something proven to us time and again.
Verbal communication is a big-ticket item, but do not forget about the written part of it.
You and everyone in your company use the written word to communicate every single day.
Let’s look at some of these skills’ examples.
When you draft both internal and external emails, you use it. The same goes for instant messaging with your coworkers or chatting with a customer throughout the sales process. Each of your brand’s social media posts needs it, and you cannot complete a project without it.
Everyone should work on their verbal and written communication skills. You need to ensure that your staff members use clear and concise language to get rid of that pesky “fluff.” Know how to use the proper grammar and tone, and pay close attention to where you should place punctuation.
Training is a long-term solution. But you can find a short-term fix in grammatical tools. Many of these tools are available as browser extensions.
Organizing your tasks and entire days will not only benefit your professional development but your personal life as well. And while this may seem like an obvious one, this skill set involves a lot more than you first realize.
First of all, organization leads to higher levels of productivity and efficiency in the workplace. And the time you take to plan everything will multiply the energy time you have throughout your day.
There are many ways to perfect this over time. You and your team members can write a to-do checklist at the end of your workday for tomorrow. There are countless digital tools available to you, too, like planners or calendars.
It helps to go through your emails and organize them a couple of times every day. Even keeping your desk clean and clear of clutter goes a long way.
Many people think of painting, writing, or other artistic activities when they hear the word “creativity.” But did you know that creative thinking in your professional life has a serious role to play in your development?
While it has many components, there are three that contribute to creative thinking the most:
- Analytical thinking
- Problem-solving skills
The next time you or any of your staff runs into an obstacle at work, try something new. Do not put your thought processes and problem-solving ideas into a box. Branch out and see what works for you.
Active Listening Skills
Imagine the following: you are having a conversation during a 1:1 meeting with one of your sales reps. You have a lot of valuable information to share with them, and you think you do a pretty good job of getting that information across.
Several times, you look up and see your rep glancing at the clock or seeming all-around not there. When you ask for their thoughts and feedback on your 1:1, your rep cannot provide anything that shows they even heard you at all.
You can avoid these frustrating situations by teaching your crew how to be active listeners.
During a conversation, you should understand what another party says, what they mean, and how they feel. You can ask questions and rephrase the information they give you to ensure you have a firm grasp of what they say.
Be present, make eye contact, and listen without judgment or interruption.
We all know that problems happen. That is a natural part of the business lifestyle. How you solve those problems is what counts.
Often, whatever problems or obstacles you run into is a positive opportunity to grow as a professional.
You have to practice a lot here, but it is well worth your time when you do. Consider role-playing with your team to experiment with new ways they can solve any arising problems.
Everyone needs technical assistance sometimes. With all the tools available evolving almost daily, it’s normal to feel like you need to work on your technical savvy.
Do your best to stay on top of it anyways. If you have a tech stack that changes frequently, make sure that your reps have someone to consult when they have questions. Also, have your employees stay up-to-date with tech trends.
This one is similar to problem-solving skills. You should foster an employee base with conflict resolution know-how.
Also similar to problems or obstacles, conflict is a way to test gumption within your top talent.
How do you and your workers deal with customer conflict? What about internal conflict?
You have to deal with it as soon as it arises. Better yet, you should be able to identify it before it becomes a full-fledged issue. Proactive conflict resolution and the way you communicate to deal with it is the key to retaining customers and team members.
Remember how we said that communication is the best way to sustain a healthy professional life? You see that again with interpersonal skills, which are a way that you can communicate and interact better with everyone around you.
Relationships (business-related ones in particular) are something that you have to manage and keep up with. Do not let them fall to the wayside.
Time Management Skills
Time management relates to organizational skills, but you should practice them on your own to get the full benefits.
These are a way to meet your deadlines and reduce both internal churn and stress.
Start by having your team (and yourself!) track their time for a week or two. No detail is too small, so make sure they put in everything. Then, you can make sure they are spending their time on the right tasks and not getting overwhelmed.
Then, they should be able to answer the following questions: where can they delegate? What tools can they use to help them? What tasks do they procrastinate and why?
When you find yourself stuck, these skills will push your team forward.
But while you now know the keys to professional development, we know that it can be tricky to get everyone on the same page.
That’s why at Selling Revolution, we have the secret sauce for your business success. A lot of sales training programs and development opportunities do not get to know you. That means fewer long-term results for your team and less profitability.
We revolutionize sales training and selling systems for our clients every day.