How to Hone Hard Skills: Sales Development Rep Starter Guide

Written by Kira Grieve

Kira is a Senior Campaign Manager at The Selling Factory. Over the last year and a half, she has used her education (Double Gator from UF) and experiences from traveling to coach and encourage over 100 college/UF students on sales outreach, sales tactics and personal goals. 

Did you know that the median income for a sales representative in 2021 was $61,600? The career may not make you an overnight millionaire, but it can be lucrative and fulfilling.

However, you’ll need to learn some sales hard skills before starting this career. Whether you’re fresh out of school or are looking for a career change, you may not have all of the skills necessary just yet.

Fortunately, you can learn some hard skills for sales to prepare for your next sales call or job interview. Keep reading to find out what you need to learn and how.

1. Customer Relationship Manager

One of the most important sales hard skills to learn is how to use a customer relationship manager (CRM). When you take on an internship or sales job, you’ll need to use a CRM often.

This software houses sales leads and any relevant data about them to help make a sale. When you input leads into the system, you need to know what data to collect and how to categorize it.

Then, when you revisit the lead, you’ll need to know how to read the customer’s file. That way, you can grab any phone numbers and names you need before you make your sales call.

Different companies may use different CRMs, so consider learning multiple if you’re job hunting. You can use your knowledge of different tools to stand out, and you may even be able to obtain certification in a CRM.

A great way to start learning how to use a CRM is to see if the platform offers tutorials. Otherwise, you can experiment with the software on your own to get a feel for it.

If you’re not sure which CRM to learn first, look at current sales job listings. Learn the CRM you see on the most job listings to increase your chances of landing a sales job.

2. Marketing/Sales Automation

Marketing and sales automation is another crucial skill for sales professionals. These skills often go hand in hand with CRMs as some tools help with both tasks.

You can learn to use programs such as HubSpot, Salesforce, or SharpSpring. Again, it doesn’t hurt to learn how to use multiple automation tools to prepare for your career.

However, maybe you already have a sales job. In that case, ask your employer about employee training on the sales automation tools they use.

Then, you won’t have to waste time learning to use a tool that your company doesn’t require. You may also be able to get paid for the time you spend on training.

If you don’t have a job yet, at least learn some of the most popular automation tools. When you have an interview, you can use your education to stand out among other applicants.

3. Active Listening

When you use active listening, you start to understand not only what someone is saying but why. This is one of the best sales hard skills to help you close more sales.

You can get to know your leads, so you can tailor your sales pitch to each individual. Start by getting rid of any distractions so that you can focus on the sales conversation.

It also helps to pay attention to non-verbal cues when speaking in person or over video. When responding, ask questions that allow the lead to talk openly and listen carefully to their answer.

You may even want to paraphrase their answers back to help show you know what the person is saying. It can be hard to start active listening when you’ve never done it.

A great way to practice, though, is outside of sales calls. Try to actively listen to your loved ones as well as your coworkers, and you can put that skill to use in your next sales call or meeting.

4. Presentation Skills

Of course, a good sales pitch requires a nice, professional presentation. If you want to improve your sales skills, you should learn how to make a better presentation.

This can include learning how to use presentation software, such as PowerPoint. However, it also includes learning how to speak clearly and confidently.

Public speaking is also a vital part of a successful sales pitch, especially when selling to teams. Regardless of the size of the audience, you need to know how to make your presentation engaging.

Making eye contact with your leads can also help engage them and make them want to pay more attention. Like active listening, the best way to learn presentation skills is to practice.

Do some mock pitches in front of your colleagues to get experience. Ask for their feedback, and do your best to improve the next time.

If you can’t do mock sales pitches, consider taking a public speaking class. It may not be the same, but you’ll get to practice speaking to an audience.

5. Negotiation Skills

Another one of the best sales hard skills to learn is negotiation. Once your lead expresses interest in the pitch, you have to determine how much they’ll pay.

Communication and active listening are both important when negotiating. Other useful sub-skills include solving problems and emotional control.

It can help to work with a mentor when learning these skills. For example, you could accompany your mentor on a sales meeting to watch how they negotiate with clients.

After a few of those meetings, the mentor can go with you to your next meeting. They can watch what you do and offer any assistance if you need it.

Similar to other hard sales skills, you can learn negotiation with practice. The more you do it, the better you’ll get, so you can help your employer generate more sales.

Learn Sales Hard Skills Now

In sales, hard skills are vital for doing a good job and bringing in sales for your employer. Fortunately, you can learn new things in a variety of ways, from a mentorship to company training to a continuing education course.

Be sure to figure out what skills will help you the most and learn those first. Then, you can continue to learn more skills to help develop your career.

Do you want to get started in a sales career? Apply for an internship today.

Victoria Zamitalo

Campaign Manager

Victoria received a BA in History and Economics from the University of Florida in May 2023. She is a driven sales professional with over 5 years combined experience in customer service, consumer relations and outbound sales, and is deeply passionate about fostering close relationships between consumers and sellers. She aims to train the next generation of sales professionals in not only the tricks of the trade, but also interpersonal skills that make sales the exciting and ever-changing industry that it is.

Mia Semel

Campaign Manager

Before graduating with a B.A. in Sustainability Studies, Mia took on multiple roles while interning at The Selling Factory, including sales development, recruiting, and leading campaigns. She is an active listener and effective communicator, specializing in fostering genuine connections and finding common ground among differing perspectives. She aims to find practical, creative solutions regarding sustainable development, biodiversity and the climate crisis.

Kira Grieve

Senior Campaign Manager

Kira graduated from the University of Florida and received her Master of Science in Entrepreneurship. She is passionate about helping businesses grow and connecting with new people. Some of her hobbies include traveling and hiking. She hopes to visit all of the National Parks one day!

Jared Glosser

Vice President

After graduating from UF in 2014 with a B.A. in history, Jared started his professional career Fundraising for a non-partisan political lobby in South Florida. In 2016, Jared moved back to Gainesville to work for a non-profit, recruit students for international travel opportunities, and pursue his MBA at UF. Jared has been with The Selling Factory since 2019 focusing on operations, client onboarding, and client success.

Ian Massenburg

Chief Operating Officer

A graduate of University of Florida (B.A. 2001), Ian Massenburg brings over 18 years of sales executive and sales management experience to The Selling Factory. Before coming on-board, Ian worked alongside Brad at Infinite Energy, and then spent his next 3 years as VP of Partnerships selling SaaS products B2B. Ian brings his vast knowledge and experience to the team and to our partner companies served.

Damien Paulk

Campaign Manager

Damien is a University of Florida graduate that recently joined the team full time after working as a Sales Development Intern for one year. As a Campaign Manager, Damien looks forward to contributing to the growth and success of The Selling Factory. When Damien is not at work he enjoys exploring Gainesville with his girlfriend and dog or watching the Gators dominate college football.

Brendan Viehman

Campaign Manager

Brendan graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Project Management. For the past 5 years, he has enjoyed working with blockchain technology and cryptocurrency development. In his free time, he surfs and makes personal finance videos for his YouTube channel.

Savannah Howard

Campaign Manager

A graduate from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, Savannah obtained her Bachelor of Science in public relations with a concentration in French. After almost two years as a sales development intern for The Selling Factory, she joined the leadership team in 2021 taking on the role of Campaign Manager. In her free time, Savannah enjoys going to concerts and festivals and cooking for her friends and family.

Zack Kampf

Campaign Manager

Zack is a creative technologist with experience in advertising, event planning, and game design. He started as an SDR in 2018 and has been with TSF ever since. Upon graduating UF in 2019 he became a campaign manager and is currently seeking a master's degree from NYU. In his spare time, you can find him at the intersection of Art & Technology!

Josiah Blakemore

Growth Manager

Josiah has over 10 years of sales experience, worked with Brad and Ian at Infinite Energy, and also spent time selling SaaS as Director of Partnerships at SharpSpring. He’s always been very competitive and has a love for sports and games. He enjoys solving problems and coaching team members to do the same!

Sue-Ming Frauenhofer

Marketing Manager

Sue-Ming received both her B.S. in Psychology and M.S. in Management from The University of Florida. As a student, she took on multiple roles while interning at The Selling Factory, including sales development, marketing, and recruiting, eventually leading to her current role as Marketing Manager. She enjoys refining her taste in music and visual art, engaging in mindfulness and meditative practices, and frolicking outside with her sidekick pup.

Adam Grossman

Chief Development Officer

Adam is an ordained rabbi, who has founded multiple ventures focused on workforce development. Hired as CEO by a failing non-profit, in over 5 years, his ingenuity saved the organization, which led to recognize it as one of North America’s most innovative Jewish non-profits. His expertise to identify, cultivate, and on-board talent ensures our student teams meet our partners’ needs.

Brad Gamble

Chief Executive Officer

After graduating from UF in 1999 with a B.S.B.A, Brad Gamble has dedicated himself to sales management, branding, coaching, and building companies. He served as the VP of Sales & Marketing for Infinite Energy until 2014, when he founded The Selling Factory. He has dedicated himself to teaching critical skills to tomorrow’s leaders, and helping companies achieve sales success and revenue growth.