Do you wonder what it takes to become a successful salesperson? Ten essential skills below will help you succeed.
In contrast to what most people think, putting on a smile, practicing a confident handshake, or even putting together an impressive presentation isn’t enough to become an effective salesperson. Instead, you will need to stand out from the fierce competition of more than 1.5 million sales representatives in the U.S. by practicing essential skills every salesperson should have to become or remain a great sales professional.
Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills
Before we head to the list of the 10 top skills you should master as a salesperson, we must differentiate the two types of skills we will discuss. These are hard and soft skills.
Hard skills are the job-specific skills you can measure and learn through different courses or on-job training. These are areas where you can get certified or listed on your resume.
On the other hand, soft skills are interpersonal skills that will help you build better and long-lasting customer relationships. They are difficult to measure but equally important to succeed as a salesperson. Both hard and soft skills are crucial to practice to drive long-lasting, effective results.
Essential Hard Skills for a Salesperson
1. Product Knowledge
Unsurprisingly, the first and the most prominent skill you’ll have to develop as a salesperson is product knowledge. It means knowing the ins and outs of what you are selling and, most importantly, understanding what your customers will want to know about the product you are offering.
You must understand why your customer needs your service or product and which problem it solves for them. Without the essential knowledge about what you are selling, it’ll be impossible to convince your customers about the importance of your product for them.
2. Strong Knowledge of Sales Tools and Common Business Software
Sales tools make selling easier; therefore, it’s crucial to learn them to be an effective salesperson. Sales tools comprise a variety of technologies like customer relationship management (CRM), workplace productivity apps, sales intelligence, prospecting, data connectors, and integrations, to name a few.
This variety of modern tools will help you run the process more smoothly and better engage your customers. CRM is among the most crucial tools you’ll need to master. It can automate communication, track existing customers, improve customer relationships and improve retention.
3. Conflict Management
Regardless of how skilled a salesperson you are, there’s no guaranteed method to avoid conflicts, and they can happen to anyone. Whether it’s your clients, peers, management, or other parties, conflicts can occur, and as a successful salesperson, you must practice and learn effective ways to manage them. Disputes, rejections, and complaints may occur at any time. You must know how to handle them and even use these incidents to demonstrate a workplace solution to management.
4. Sales Presentations & Sales Demos
When someone mentions a sales presentation, you might instantly think of a simple PowerPoint presentation with a list of key facts and nice visuals here and there.
Although that’s part of what sales presentations and demos include, you must master them and bring them to a whole another level by combining a well-designed presentation with your public speaking skills. Your prospects should see you put a great effort in creating the presentation and you are confident and enthusiastic about what you are selling. A good sales presentation and sales demos are great for building trust and gaining your prospects’ attention when done right.
5. Research Skills
Mastering research skills is another crucial aspect in becoming a successful salesperson. Whether it’s finding marketing trends, product comparisons, or learning more about your prospects, research skills will help at every stage of selling your product.
Researching what your clients need and want will help you see and better explain how your product resonates with their needs. Learning more about your competitors will allow you to demonstrate why your product is a better choice. Research skills will help you support your key points and help close the deal.
Essential Soft Skills for a Salesperson
Although it’s hard to master, storytelling is an essential soft skill for a salesperson. Once you master this skill, your prospects will be ready and eager to listen. Storytelling skills mean understanding the structure of a good story and how to focus on the main characters (for you, it most probably means your product) so that your story (sales pitch or presentation) is engaging and easy to understand.
Read How to Boost Your Storytelling Skills to better connect with your audiences.
The core of your successful career as a salesperson is how you communicate with your clients. No matter how well you’ve mastered your hard skills, without good communication skills, you’ll not be likely to close many deals or increase revenue.
Today’s communication is more than speaking clearly but utilizing digital communication tools effectively through the sales cycle. It means using video conferencing tools like Zoom efficiently and working on written skills for e-mail and social media channels.
Good communication with your clients means:
- Active listening
- Being direct
- Making eye contact (in-person or video calls)
- Using body language (in-person or video calls)
- Having a dialogue
3. Public Speaking
Another crucial skill you need to succeed as a salesperson is public speaking, which, unfortunately, doesn’t come naturally, and you’ll need to develop.
Once you are in front of your audience, you might get nervous no matter how well you have prepared your sales presentation. Especially if the audience keeps scrolling their social media feeds during your sales pitch. Luckily you can master your public speaking skills by practice.
Remember how you kept reciting your presentation before giving a memorable speech at school as a kid? That’s what we as grown-ups have to do too. Practice your presentation at home, turn on the TV, experiment with various distractions, and try to remain focused. Stop slowly, maintain eye contact with the audience, rehearse your presentations, and take slow deep breaths on your demo day.
4. Organizational Skills
Sales professionals are busy people, and they undertake many tasks which can get overwhelming, especially when you are not organized. Organizational skills are crucial for everyone regardless of their occupation and are a must-have to succeed (and remain sane.) These skills include time management, communication, teamwork, planning, record keeping, and work-life balance.
Read How to Improve Organizational Skills at Work to learn more.
Although more of a personal trait, optimism is a learnable skill – essential for a salesperson. You, as a salesperson, have to remain optimistic and believe you can win.
Besides giving you confidence, such perspective will allow you to keep yourself motivated take confident actions which will eventually lead to success. Most importantly positive and confident salesperson is more likely to close more deals.
Learn 20 Methods to Learn Optimism.
These ten essential hard and soft skills above will help you succeed as a salesperson and gain confidence at work. Sure, you might already be a seasoned pro, but if some of these skills are your weak points, now it’s the best time to master them!