Working in sales is fast paced, highly pressured, and inherently competitive. To remain at the top of your game, there are certain skills that every sales professional needs. Whilst this list isn't exhaustive, it's a good indicator of the types of skills that our clients look for on a regular basis. To be successful, you'll need to constantly assess your strengths and weaknesses, work on your failings, and push yourself out of your comfort zone. With that in mind, here are our list of ten skills that we think every sales professional should have.
Product and company knowledge
First and foremost, a good sales professional needs to have in-depth product and company knowledge. If you don't understand the product your selling, or lack a deep understanding of the company you're representing, you'll find closing a sale incredibly tough. Product training should be at the top of every company's priorities for sales rep training. If you're not getting the training you require, it's your responsibility to get to grips with the products your selling and the customers you're trying to sell them to. How does your product solve their problems? What is your product's USP?
Networking is key to finding new clients, maintaining client networks, and to maximising the likelihood of referrals. To be a master networker, you'll need to be strategic in your networking activities. Which events or activities will offer the best return on investment? Remember, meaningful connections don't just happen – you need to make them happen. Anticipating those connections that need your company's product or solution is essential if you're to build the relationships your company needs.
Research and other digital skills (social selling)
In the digital age, there are a wealth of tools and information out there to help you. Whether it involves researching clients online, adopting new tools or technologies, or managing multiple social networks, being digitally savvy is a skill that all salespeople need. If digital doesn't come naturally to you, consider accessing some training, or learn from those around you who use digital to its full potential.
Communication and building rapport (storytelling)
As a sales professional, your ability to connect with your prospect is paramount. To do so you'll need top-tier communication skills to help you build rapport. People buy from people, and you need to help your prospects believe in you and your product. Studies have shown that emotion frequently proceeds logic when making purchase decisions. A true salesperson can generate enthusiasm for a product through great storytelling, connecting a product to an emotional need by the prospect.
Self-motivated and maintaining self-confidence (goal oriented)
Sales is tough – to make it as a sales professional you need to have the motivation to keep going, and the self-confidence to bounce back from the countless objections. Those that are most successful will be great at setting SMART goals that help them to track their progress and strive for the top. What goals have you set for 2017?
Sales isn't all about pitching – a massive chunk of a salesperson's ability to sell comes from listening. Famed Venture Capitalist Mark Suster, offered his thoughts on listening when he said “Don’t be a crocodile salesman, big mouth & no ears”. To succeed in sales, you need to be able to listen to a prospect's pain points and hear their desires. Are you listening to your prospects enough?
In the world of sales, time is money! Fail to manage your time and risk abject failure. Successful salespeople have a well-ordered desk, diary, and portfolio, enabling them to spend their time effectively, on the most promising leads, in the most efficient manner.
One of the most important skills for a salesperson is observation. An observant salesperson is more able to pick up on verbal or visual cues. This is an essential part of the sales journey and helps the observant salesperson to know when to progress a sale, or when to give the prospect some time.
Negotiation skills and objection handling
Whilst some sales can be straightforward, more frequently sales can end up in negotiations. At this point the skilled salesperson needs to be able to switch from consultant to negotiator. To do so effectively, salespeople need to master a range of negotiating tactics. For example, to negotiate successfully, the salesperson first needs to ensure they are negotiating with the right person. They also need to have clearly defined in advance the parameters of any concessions that they are able to make, to have the confidence and patience to allow the prospect to start negotiations, to get something in return for any concessions they make such as a referral, and the ability to keep negotiations light and jovial in tone. In addition, a true negotiator also knows when it's time to walk away. If the deal on the table is a good one, it's likely that your prospect will return.
You'll also need the ability to deal with objections. A good strategy is to get any objections out on the table early, to deal with them effectively, and to handle them so that your prospect no longer feels they are worthy objections. Be careful not to argue or get defensive - handling objections is key to closing sales, so be sure to work out what issues prospects may have in advance, and work out ways to counter them.
After sales care
A sale doesn't end once the prospects pays for a product or service. A successful salesperson will have a genuine interest in their client and their journey with their product or service. After sales care is essential if you are to encourage repeat business and maximise referrals. Are you doing enough to look after your clients?
If you’re looking for a new position within the Sales sector, or need to hire a Sales professional, then contact us today!