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Seventy-five percent of sales hires fail in their first year. 

Why? There are several reasons, but one of the most common is that they’re missing critical sales fundamentals. 

They’re eager to try out fancy tricks some YouTube guru promised would make them millions when what they should really be doing is hammering away at the basic skills every sales rep needs to succeed.  

This post will arm you with the basic sales training blocks you need to start building your career and start things off on the right foot. 

Who Needs Basic Sales Training? 

Need Sales Training 101? This post can serve that purpose. However, brand-new sales reps aren’t the only professionals who can benefit from basic sales training.

Basic sales training refers to any fundamentals of sales a rep needs to know to succeed in their field. Many types of sales reps can benefit from this kind of training.

  • New sales reps
  • Reps moving into a new industry
  • Experienced reps looking to refresh their skills or learn new methods as their industry evolves

Pursuing regular sales training can benefit you and your team in numerous ways. Consistent training helps keep the team aligned and motivated, increases sales confidence, and provides opportunities for feedback and growth. 

These benefits are why one of the most important things to remember before pursuing a new position in sales is to find a role with robust training and development opportunities. Especially if you’re just starting out in sales, remember you should always choose the right opportunity and the right mentor over the highest salary or commission offer. It’ll pay off in the long run. 

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1. Sell a Commodity 

The best way to kick off your sales career is to choose the right field from the jump. The best way to develop quickly and improve your skills rapidly is to start off by selling a commodity. Commodities are raw products. Oil, grain, and copper are all examples of commodities.  

Related Read: What I Learned Selling a Commodity

Selling a commodity will speed up your development because, in commodities, there is no significant difference between your product and your competitor’s. When there is no real differentiation, the only differentiator is you—and the sales conversation. 

You are the value proposition.

Selling a commodity is the easiest way to learn how to differentiate yourself from the competition, a skill that will be invaluable to you throughout your sales career.

2. Surround Yourself with Successful Salespeople 

It’s not possible to completely learn a new skill through osmosis. However, the easiest way to speed up your development and increase your motivation is to immerse yourself in a pool of great examples. 

Spend as much time as possible with successful salespeople who can show you what “great” looks like in sales. You can find other salespeople to interact with in your social circles, but you should also find the strongest sales reps on your team, observe them and do your best to mirror their successful behaviors.

Related Read: 9 Ways for New Salespeople to Find Fast Success

You can ask these reps if they will mentor or coach you. If they refuse, you can refer to tip number five on this list. 

3. Engage in Role-Playing 

Whenever possible, role-play with your peers. Role-playing is useful because it helps you burn the language you need into your mind, making it second nature and helping your pitches and conversations sound more natural.

Role-playing also lets you get reps in without actually needing to potentially waste opportunities in life calls with real prospects. 

For more help with role-playing, check out my post, Rules for Sales Role Plays

4. Talk to Clients 

Unsure of what your dream client wants and needs? My best tip is to just ask them!

Ask your clients to show you how their business works and ask what they need from you and the solution you offer. Your clients know what they need better than anyone else. Instead of guessing or trying to figure it out to the best of your ability, learn directly from them. 

This method sets you up for success in calls not only with that client but with other clients in their industry. 

5. Read Sales Books 

You might not get the chance to study directly under ten masters of sales… but you can achieve a lot of the same results by reading sales and business books. 

Sales books are a fantastic—and relatively low-cost—way to learn from a wide variety of talented and skilled sales professionals across industries. 

If you’re unsure of where to start looking for sales books that are worth your time, you can start with this list I shared on Twitter earlier this year. 

6. Learn the Ins and Outs of Business 

If you want to succeed in sales, you need to learn more than sales—you need the ins and outs of business processes, news, and trends. This tip is even more vital if you work in B2B sales. You need to learn the language your prospects speak. You’ll only learn that by understanding the basics of the business world.

My best advice? Watch or listen to CNBC every day. This practice will help you absorb the necessary information to learn how business works. 

7. Keep a Sales Journal 

Would a scientist ever experiment without recording the results? Of course not. You should approach your sales calls the same way.

Why? Because if you don’t have data, you won’t know what to improve. 

Related Read: How To Learn Sales

Test out new methods, techniques, and strategies. Document your win/loss rate and other metrics to see what works and what doesn’t. Tracking your results in a sales journal is the best way to find out what methods work best for you. 

8. Choose an Industry and Become an Authority 

Lastly, if you can help it, choose one industry and stick with it. Bouncing around to various industries might be a good way to find your niche, but make it your home base once you find it. Learn everything you can about the industry, make essential connections, and become an authority

The industry you choose might not be “sexy,” but if you can carve out a space for yourself, it will be well worth your while. 

Beyond Basic Sales Training 

Whether your sales career is just starting or you’re a seasoned veteran, basic sales training can help you enhance your skills and level up your career. 

Following these ten tips is a great foundation for a successful career in the modern sales environment. However, if you truly want to start crushing your sales targets and leading your team in closed deals, you’ll need more training than the tips in this post.

I offer a training program called the Sales Accelerator. This program equips sales reps with the language, skills, and confidence they need to excel in their careers. You can also take advantage of my new Cohorts program to surround yourself with successful salespeople and level up your learning. 

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Post by Anthony Iannarino on May 9, 2023

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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