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Core Competencies of Successful Sellers

blog author
Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

Selling works when an organization, and its sellers, excel in certain key areas. The Sales Competency WheelSM is a graphical depiction of these areas. Not every seller must do everything in the Wheel (e.g., not every seller must fill their own pipelines or drive account growth), but every sales organization needs to make sure the right people are good in the right areas to unleash maximum sales potential.



To apply the Sales Competency Wheel to your role, just ask, for each of the areas:

  • Is this important for this sales role?
  • What does it look like when someone in this role does this well?
  • What should someone in this role do that we're not doing here now, but that sellers at other companies are doing?

The Sales Competency Wheel itself has a number of categories. We'll look at it from the center out:


At the center is value. When sellers can create value, they win. This is the end goal.


Then there is what sellers need to do to create and win a particular sale or opportunity. Note that each area is connected to the concept of value.

  • Fill Pipeline: You can't sell if you don't have opportunities. If value is the outcome, then infuse value in the prospecting process itself.

  • Drive | Discover Need: Most sales processes focus solely on needs discovery. That's only half the story. Sellers should also drive need proactively. With needs discovery, the idea is to find out what may be most valuable to a buyer when they indicate they have need. With driving need, the idea is to find untapped value in the market and at accounts, and then make a case for doing something about it that creates value for the buyer.

  • Craft Solution: Whether you or the buyer drives the need, once you understand it, you must craft a solution that actually creates the most value.

  • Present: You have to communicate the full value of the solution so the buyer understands it as well as you do.

  • Negotiate: Assuming you are selected by the buyer, often you enter a negotiation phase. The idea is to maintain margin and prices by focusing on value over price.

  • Win: The ultimate recognition of creating value is winning the sale. Winning doesn’t just happen, though. Sellers have to make it happen and beat the competition.


To make sales work, sellers must succeed with people. The areas they need to focus on here are:

  • Conversation Mastery: Sellers must lead masterful conversations across the sales process.

  • Relationship Mastery: Sellers must build strong relationships as they affect success at every stage of the sales process.

  • Influence Mastery: It’s the job of a seller to influence buyer agendas, actions, and decisions.


For sellers to succeed at any of the inner circles, they must be able to:

  • Drive Opportunities: Leading the process of winning a sale, including planning to build relationships, leading masterful conversations, and influencing buyers.

  • Drive Account Growth: Penetrating, expanding, and protecting a company's most important accounts.

  • Drive Themselves: Directing their own success, making their own plans of action, managing their own time and activities, and managing their pipelines to yield maximum business.

These are all the skill areas sellers must have.

Factors influencing sellers' abilities to get all of this done, are:

  • Sales Leadership: Defining the path to overall success, and architecting the system to allow the teams to achieve at their potential.

  • Sales Management: Working to help each seller reach their potential on a day-to-day basis.

  • Sales Performance Environment: Allowing sellers to sell effectively, and providing the tools to help them win.

All of RAIN Group's offerings connect to the Sales Competency Wheel. To learn more about the core competencies of successful sellers and sales organizations, click through to the interactive version:

Click to view the interactive wheel.


Topics: Sales Management