We all have those friends or colleagues who are natural salespeople. They’re charismatic, strong communicators, and persuasive. Sure, they may have some natural gifts, but the majority of their talents can be attributed to something we can all learn: sales skills.
Defined as the overall set of capabilities, knowledge, and activities needed to carry out sales within an organization, sales skills, and the people who have them, are necessary for the day-to-day function, health, and longevity of a business. Sales skills help your business find your target customer, connect with them, and convert that lead into a transaction.
What Are Key Sales Skills?
From selling physical items door-to-door to instantly pinpointing a prospect’s challenges on the phone, the most important sales skills differ based on your industry, business, and company goals. However, there are a handful of key skills that are important for every salesperson to master:
Adaptability skills: The business world is constantly changing and evolving, with new tools, technology, and industries popping up all the time. You need to be as flexible as the world you work in and be willing to completely change your sales strategy if necessary.
People skills: You don’t need to be the ultimate extrovert to succeed in sales, but you do need to have strong social skills. Your day-to-day will consist of talking on the phone, presenting ideas in meetings, or writing emails. Empathy and communication will take you a long way.
Business skills: In a lot of ways, you are the face of the company. You have the opportunity to introduce your product or service to people for the first time, influencing how they perceive the brand. You need to understand your company’s business model, the product roadmap, and payment plans, as well as be able to manage demos of the product or service.
Analytical skills: The number of deals you close is always a good indication of success, but there are a lot of other metrics you can track. For example, how long does it take you to make initial contact and how long does it take to convert a lead? You could also send out follow-up surveys to newly converted customers to get feedback on their sales experience and find ways you can improve.
What Skills Should You Look for When Hiring a Salesperson?
A bad hire is expensive. Case in point, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh estimates that bad hires have cost the company “well over $100 million.”
While it’s important to have a wide range of skills on your team, there are five key sales skills to look for to ensure you hire the right person to join your sales team:
Dependability: You and your colleagues need to be able to depend on a new salesperson for basic things like showing up on time and meeting quota. However, you should take this one step further and find a new hire that can own a process and run with it.
Decision-making: Your new hire should be confident enough to make important decisions, like when and how often to reach out to prospects, without the need for constant monitoring from you.
Integrity: Having the integrity to be transparent and honest with potential customers is often the difference between making a sale or not. Salespeople should display this level of integrity to gain trust and deepen the relationship.
Communication: Sales reps need to be able to accurately articulate the crucial elements of your business to potential customers. And, perhaps most important, they should be willing to listen.
Self-confidence: No one wants to buy from a salesperson who questions his or her own abilities and knowledge. Your new sales reps need to possess the self-confidence to earn credibility from prospects.
When it comes to developing sales skills, the learning never stops. Even the most experienced sales reps can benefit from training, educational reading, or even taking on a project outside of their comfort zone.
In that same vein, don’t discount reps who don’t immediately have key sales skills. Sales training can equip your team with well-rounded communication skills, confidence, and the ability to overcome objections. Look for a willingness to learn and you’ll find someone with the potential to be an excellent salesperson.