Sales reps are the powerhouse of every successful business. Their skills, experience, resilience in negotiation, and money-making capabilities make it imperative for companies to nurture and invest in their sales team.
Considering how vital sales reps are to an organization, you need to invest constantly in them to increase your sales and revenue. But, importantly, success-driven sales reps must also hone their essential selling skills to build effective sales relationships, close more deals, and become top performers in your team.
To help sales reps and businesses maximize their sales potential, we have created this blog to provide you with our top 20 essential sales skills that every sales rep should master in 2023. For better understanding, we have also broken them into three primary categories. Read on to learn more about these skills.
Hard skills are job-related knowledge and measurable abilities that employees learn to help them perform their sales duties effectively. These skills are learned through hands-on training, education, academic institutions, work experiences, seminars, and mentorships, including role-specific skills that can help a person excel at a particular function.
On the other hand, soft skills are personal qualities and skills that employees gain naturally to thrive in the workplace. They are conversational abilities that a person learns over time to help them perform everyday tasks and build relationships with other people. Common soft skills include effective communication, teamwork, leadership, time management, adaptability, and motivation.
A sales representative or sales rep is an individual with the sole responsibility of selling a product or service for a company and representing the brand. These professionals are also responsible for managing customer relationships, serving as the company’s key point of contact with customers and prospects from the initial lead outreach stage to the final sales closing stage.
Sales reps can be categorized into four main personality types Assertive, Amiable, Expressive, and Analytic. Each of these personalities is broken down into descriptions of a sales rep. These include the following:
Business experts revealed that the most successful salespeople have the following traits.
A good salesperson is a professional negotiator who can help a company increase the sales of its products and services. Experienced sales reps usually offer more to their clients than exciting pitches; they are passionate individuals who care about their customer’s interests and are interested in helping them solve their needs and build their confidence in a brand, product, or service.
Aside from this, sales reps are emotionally intelligent and mature individuals that can handle customer rejection and learn from their wins and losses to increase sales. Successful sales reps have the following selling habits:
We have compiled 20 sales skills that sales professionals need to master to become top-performing sales reps that generate revenue and reach the top of the sales field. Find them in three different categories below:
Below are the crucial customer-facing sales skills every sales professional must have to reach out and sell to their clients, convert prospects into customers, and increase their sales output.
Active listening is a crucial aspect of selling. It is an essential step to understanding your prospects and customers and helping them find a solution to their problems. This skill is pretty straightforward. Listen attentively to your prospects’ problems or needs if you need to understand them.
Success-driven sales reps must listen more and talk less. Listening to your prospects/clients allows you to gather valuable information that helps you to sell, build rapport with clients and show that you genuinely care about their concerns. But unfortunately, only about 26% of sales reps are good at listening to their clients.
How to improve this skill: An excellent way to improve your active listening skills is to allow your clients to speak without interruption. Instead of talking to your clients, talk to them and be attentive to the crucial details in the conversation.
Relationship-building is the process of building and maintaining ethical, long-lasting relationships or contacts with clients and prospects. The ability to positively engage and build rapport with your clients and prospects and build long-term relationships and mutually beneficial networks can significantly impact sales. It involves meeting new clients, gathering referrals, and helping them achieve their sales objectives.
If you must sell to your clients and prospects, you must be able to gain their trust, build rapport, and have a genuine desire to help them solve their needs and achieve their goals.
How to improve this skill: Relationship-building is a crucial sales skill that can set you apart from your competitors and help you build client partnerships. An excellent way to improve this skill is by showing care and concern for your clients and helping them achieve their goals.
Persuasiveness is the ability to persuade someone to do or believe something. Professional sales reps must understand the importance of persuasiveness to achieve sales. Good sales reps must not pressure their prospects to purchase or decide. Instead, they must realize sales psychology to persuade their clients/prospects instead of manipulating them.
Remember that sales are not a short-term activity; you do it in the long term, so don’t be hasty to close a deal without putting efforts into increasing sales long-term.
How to improve this skill: Ethical selling is the key to building sales. When you sell with your client’s best interests at heart, you help them solve their pain while also making a sale. This is a win-win situation for both parties – your clients and you.
Social selling is a sales strategy that builds rapport and customer interaction via various social media platforms. The core of social selling is interacting and engaging with clients on social media. You can make better connections and relationships with customers by commenting, liking, and sharing customers’ posts.
Social selling also helps to increase your lead generation and conversion rate. This is a crucial skill that every B2B sales rep must have.
How to improve this skill: Social media is a highly competitive space. To thrive and build successful relationships on social media, you must study your competitors to understand what they are doing right, what social media platforms they use, their tone of voice, and how they respond to their customers.
Empathy is an intrinsic sales skill that enables you to understand another person’s thoughts and feelings from their point of view rather than yours. For many salespeople, this involves putting themselves in your customer’s shoes to understand their situation, needs, and problems. Empathy is crucial because it allows you to see your company, products, or services from your client’s perspective rather than yours.
You can effectively prepare your sales presentations to cover these areas. But, again, the goal is to treat your prospects and attempt to solve their needs like you would like to be treated.
How to improve this skill: The key to building empathy as a salesperson is asking important questions like “What are your goals?” “Where do you see yourself?” and “Why is it important that you solve this problem?” When you get answers to these questions, you can understand the best way to solve their problems in the best way.
Conflict management is identifying a conflict and determining the best possible way to manage the conflict reasonably and efficiently. Unfortunately, conflicts are inevitable in the sales industry. Hence every success-driven salesperson must be ready to face every challenge head-on. Conflict management skills are the ability to calmly accept a customer/prospect’s resistance and aggression and manage it to turn the situation around for good.
When situations arise with your clients, your goals should be to minimize the potential negative impacts as much as possible. Such that you don’t only end up solving their needs but also converting them to paying customers.
How to improve this skill: Never argue or fight with your prospects/clients. Instead, try to understand where their concern is coming from to resolve the misunderstanding calmly.
Process-driven sales skills are the traits that help salespeople excel during the sales process. Essentially, these skills enhance a sales rep’s ability to convert their prospects and increase sales. Salespeople gain these skills by doing their homework and working consistently to enhance their methods.
This is pretty fundamental. A good salesperson needs to know enough about the product or service they are selling to convince someone else to buy it. When pitching your products to your prospects, it also helps you accurately convey the benefits of products to your buyers.
Beyond all these, product knowledge is one of the most critical sales skills that showcase your skills as a professional when your customers have queries and objections during the selling process, accelerating your sales career and improving customer success.
How to improve this skill: An effective way to build your product knowledge skills is by managing customer feedback and taking advantage of company training, articles, and product materials.
Time management is a personal success skill that doubles as a sales skill. It simply means your ability to manage your time intelligently to achieve more productive tasks. Considering the number of jobs and activities that sales reps have to perform daily, good time management skills enable them to use their time well and prioritize their tasks based on the order of importance and urgency.
For sales reps, the goal is to work on tasks that keep them productive and not busy. For example, rather than following you and spending the bulk of your time with unqualified leads, devote that time and effort to promising leads or engage in more prospecting to keep your sales funnel full and active.
How to improve this skill: Managing your skills effectively can be challenging. To do this right, consider using sales CRM/ automation tools to automate your day-to-day tasks.
For sales career progression, you must be able to train new sales reps and coach them to success. Sales is not a one-man’s job; you would need a team of professional salespeople to increase your sales. If you cannot team your team with some of the basic sales skills, then there’s a likelihood that performance might suffer.
Aside from reducing your sales team, this sales kills also helps educate your prospects and clients about your product or services. A good salesperson is also a good teacher who helps them build trust with buyers and achieve all their goals. Encourage your prospects to ask questions and always be prepared to answer their questions fully and accurately.
How to improve this skill: Take note of the knowledge gaps on your product and industry when speaking with your leads to provide them with the information they need to make more informed decisions.
Prospecting is the first step in the sales process, such as identifying and adding potential customers to the sales pipeline.
Every salesperson must have prospecting skills to identify qualified leads and effectively move the prospects through the sales pipeline. It is not enough to understand how to close deals; you must also be able to identify opportunities and nurture them into sales.
How to improve this skill: Set a time to find new leads and essential information about them to convert cold leads to warm leads successfully. Consider finding and connecting with the leaders on social media to warm them and build a rapport with them to close the deal more efficiently
The world has gone fully digital; technology, AI, and data have taken over the workspace. As a result, almost everyone needs basic tech skills and knowledge to thrive in their job and organization.
As such, every salesperson must learn basic tech skills to successfully carry out virtual selling, social selling, digital selling, and marketing trends and techniques. For example, instead of asking your prospects what their problem is, you can also use your tech skills to research and find more information about their pain points and interests.
How to improve this skill: An excellent way to enhance your tech skills is to maintain an open mindset to learn new tools, learn from thought leaders, try free demos of sales tools, and keep up with sales trends and publications.
Sales closing skill is the ability of a sales rep to bring every sales deal to an end. In short, this entails turning potential buyers into paying customers.
There is no definite right or wrong way to close a deal; it depends on the prospect’s needs, budget, current situation, competitive product space, benefits, client preference, etc. However, you can increase your sales closing potential by using the following techniques:
Soft skills are intrinsic skills that salespeople build naturally to thrive in their day-to-day life. Keep in mind these skills might need to be improved. Below are the top 8 soft sales skills you should have and work on to improve your sales performance.
The sales industry, like other industries, is constantly changing from engagement channels to sales techniques, sales styles, market prices, plus customer preferences.
There’s no end to the new things sales reps must learn to improve their sales numbers. It is not enough to build what you believe to be a perfect strategy; you must significantly update your strategies to fit the changing demands, trends, and techniques.
How to improve this skill: Don’t be rigid; always be ready to switch up your tactics to try new ways to connect, nurture, and close deals. Keep an open mind and be willing to learn new tools and techniques.
Effective communication is crucial to sales success. Remember that closing deals depend on a sales rep’s ability to understand a prospect/client’s problems and pain points to recommend the best product or services to solve that need – this is where effective communication comes in. Without effectively communicating with your prospects, you won’t be able to understand their problem and recommend the best products to them. Also, effective communication is required to avoid and solve misunderstandings between a prospect and a sales rep.
How to improve this skill: Don’t be too quick to speak or respond to your prospect’s statement, question, or remark. Instead, please pay attention to actually understanding them and effectively communicate your solution to create mutual understanding.
Curiosity kills the cat, they say, but certainly not in this case. As a sales rep, you must pay attention and be curious about your clients/prospects – their goals, needs, pain points, interest, and current situations. In sales, curiosity is also deeply connected with active listening. You must be curious to understand what your client lacks that you can provide with your product or service.
Importantly for relationship building sake, your curiosity shows your prospects that you care about them and are interested in solving their problems and not just making sales. Some of the critical questions to ask your prospects include the following:
How to improve this skill: Consider using the phrase “tell me more” to encourage the prospects to talk about themselves and their problems. Since people naturally love to talk about themselves, asking them this can encourage them to share important details that can support sales.
Salespeople need to speak to many people sometimes to introduce their products to them and encourage them to make sales. Although public speaking ability comes naturally to some people, it might be a total nightmare for others.
Whichever it is for you, it is an essential skill that every salesperson must have to thrive and boost their performance. For example, an engaging and dynamic speaker can make a product attractive and unique for people to consider it. But on the other hand, a poorly constructed or awkward presentation can ruin your client’s confidence in your product.
How to improve this skill: Start with the basics to improve your sales presentation skills. Speak up clearly when making the presentation, create a compelling hook, and avoid looking away from your audience or reading from your notepads or laptops; instead, read your slides properly and do a test run before the presentation. Be sure to ask for feedback from your peers and team members to help perfect your presentation.
Honesty is a moral virtue that is required of everyone but is not necessarily practiced by many people. For salespeople, transparency and honesty can go a long way to helping you achieve your goals. Although you might be tempted to sell and achieve your sales targets, never compromise your honesty value for the numbers.
Transparency is crucial for building trust. You should always present all the essential facts your prospects need to know. Please don’t lie to your clients about your product features and benefits to get them to buy from you; instead, be truthful and don’t decide on them. If you feel your product or service is unsuitable for your prospects after talking with them, don’t hesitate to recommend other, more appropriate products to your clients.
How to improve this skill: The key to becoming more honest with your clients has their interests at heart. This way, you can feel more comfortable telling them the truth and not holding back on vital information. Honesty also helps in building relationships
Success can never be achieved overnight. There could be a few bumps even when your sales career is going well. Hence, a salesperson must be ambitious and determined to succeed and crush all their career obstacles to reach the top. Additionally, you must also understand how to self-motivate yourself to go beyond just hitting your set targets.
How to improve this skill: Of all the sales skills identified above, ambition is easily the most difficult to improve because there’s no straight answer or technique to boost your morale. It is whether you are passionate about sales or not. Whatever goals you aim to achieve, list them out and continuously work to achieve all your goals one after the other.
Have you ever wondered how a salesperson could sell some of the least-desired products to people, some at surprisingly high prices? No miracle with this; it is the art of successful storytelling. Storytelling in sales is the ultimate bomb. It involves authenticity and communicating how your products or service can help your clients in real-life scenarios.
It is not complicated; it simply involves telling a story about your product or service where your prospects are the story’s focus or main character. Storytelling in B2B sales keeps prospective buyers and existing customers engaged by telling a story about your product or service in a way relevant to their situation. For example, instead of directly enumerating the benefits and features of the products, you can use customer success testimonials and reviews in your stories to appeal to the prospects and spark their curiosity about your product.
How to improve this skill: The key to successful storytelling is to be concise, easy to understand, and, importantly, make it as relatable as possible. If the story is too long or appears complicated, you risk losing your audience. To improve your storytelling skills, create your account simple, fun, easy to relate with, and enticing. Your story should push your prospects to want to make a purchase instantly.
Effective collaboration is a crucial skill every professional sale needs to thrive and succeed as an individual and a team. Collaboration is the ability to work with other people to achieve a goal. Following a report from a study that people who work together tend to be more motivated, productive, and perform much better, it is increasingly becoming more important than ever for sales reps to collaborate.
Salespeople rarely work alone; they would have to collaborate with their team and align all their personal goals to achieve the common goal. Sales teams usually have a common goal split into different roles and outcomes for every team member. However fantastic your sales skills are, if you fail to collaborate effectively with your team, you will likely miss objectives and have unwanted outcomes.
How to improve this skill: The key to building your collaboration skill is understanding the overall goal of your sales team and organization at large. When you know what you must achieve as a team and how that can impact organizational growth, you can be more open to collaborating with your colleagues. Also, learn to communicate well to avoid misunderstandings. In addition to these:
The sales industry is constantly changing. Hence salespeople need to continually update their knowledge, refine their skills, and try to understand their clients to offer the best products or services. Of all these identified requirements, your sales skills are the best and most important. Sales skills are hard and soft skills that help sales professionals build better reports with their clients to increase sales.
We have identified 20 top sales skills that every success-driven sales professional must learn, develop and refine to improve their jobs. Even though some of these skills are naturally developed, you need to refine the skills to increase your sales performance intentionally. In addition, other skills must be learned through training, research, or watching videos to improve these skills.
Building a successful sales career is not a one-day task. It involves years of determination and hard work. Hence we have outlined 20 core skills you should develop or improve as a salesperson. Good luck.
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