Sales managers are always looking for new ways to get more out of their agents. Sales coaching can help businesses develop their agents' skills and core characteristics while improving productivity within their departments.

The recent Sales 2.0 Conference in London and San Francisco was a hotbed of conversation pertaining to sales, including discussions about the core competencies of effective salespeople. Seth Patton, a senior director of marketing at Microsoft Dynamics CRM, noted some of the traits that businesses need to develop in their salespeople to help bolster efficiency.

1. Agility: Salespeople need to always be prepared. In a world of mobile devices and high-speed internet connections, there is no excuse to be unavailable. Salespeople need to be quick and mobile, able to answer clients' questions anywhere at any time. New technology, such as smartphones, can also be used to provide agents with real-time data on prospects. This information may be a determining factor in helping to convert leads.

2. Productivity: There should never be a wasted moment in the schedules of salespeople. Every minute should be accounted for, and if employees are constantly working to convert clients, they aren't bringing value to the company. Businesses need to stress the importance of productivity to their sales representatives and help them develop the drive to always be striving for more.

3. Preparedness: One of the worst possible things that can happen to a salesperson is being caught unprepared. When clients ask questions about goods or services, they need to know the answer. Similarly, they shouldn't be speaking to clients they know little about, or else they may end up taking the wrong angle with their sales pitches.

"Sales professionals need to take information that's publicly available via online search and social networks … and use that as a bridge to a first conversation," Patton told Selling Power. "This is the way to establish rapport and a relationship, because you already understand a good portion of that person's problems. There are a number of different technologies, such as social media to social BI and big data, that you can use to differentiate yourself and your organization in this way."

By developing their agents' abilities to be agile, productive and prepared, businesses may be able to achieve better results from their sales departments.