The customer landscape for salespeople is only becoming more competitive over time with new products, services and brands popping up daily to compete for your prospect’s attention. If you’re going to have a successful career in sales, here are the essential selling skills you need:
1. Communication Skills
Strong communication is crucial to successfully selling any product or service to a prospect. Salespeople need to be able to communicate confidently and clearly, so they can convey the benefits and value of the offer to potential customers.
Good communication skills also include being able to differentiate yourself from others with similar offers or products by telling compelling and memorable stories whether through telesales or sales presentations. Being able to craft a compelling story that aligns with the needs of the listener can often make or break a sale.
Outstanding communication skills can also help you educate your prospects about new ideas, approaches and services if your product is a challenger in the industry. Colder leads will need support and education before they’ll feel ready to buy.
Many think that people are born with great communication skills – but they can be taught and improved on with training and practice. Communication skills are often a core part of any sales course – even people who feel confident in their communication skills tend to walk away with a new insight or technique to implement.
2. Listening Skills
Sales isn’t just about telling the prospect about your offer - talking too much can be detrimental to your conversion rates. Arguably more important than talking is listening.
By demonstrating active listening when your prospect is speaking, you can show that you understand their current problems, along with any obstacles they currently face to making a purchase. Active listening skills can also help you to build an instant rapport with the prospect as they’ll be confident that you’re looking to help them and trust the solutions you offer.
Listening can also help you determine the right questions to ask to move the conversation in the right direction and to qualify the customer’s requirements for your offer. You can pick up on details they previously mentioned and work them into your questions and responses. Consultative selling, in particular, relies entirely on your listening skills.
A great listening technique to use when selling is to not only listen to what a prospect is saying, but also how they’re saying it. Reading how other people feel about you and your questions may massively change the approach you take to selling to them. If the conversion takes place over a voice call you can listen to the tone they use and the time it takes them to form their answers and if the conversation takes place in person or via video call you can also look at body language to gauge how they feel.
3. Organisational Skills
To be a successful salesperson in today’s society, you need to be highly organised and efficient. Even the impression that you’re not organised can make prospects feel uncomfortable signing up for your offer.
The most obvious organisational skill that salespeople need is the ability to book and manage their sales calls, meetings, and follow-ups. This goes beyond simply putting everything in your calendar – it involves identifying the best time and place to have the necessary conversations with your leads and prospects. E.g. if you know that your prospects are often stressed with tight deadlines towards the end of the month, you’ll want to make sure you always schedule appointments earlier in the month when they have more headspace and time to consider your offer.
Time management is another essential organisational skill that salespeople need to consistently close sales. You will often need to juggle multiple conversations at various stages of the buying process alongside your regular research, telesales, or prospecting tasks so being able to plan and manage how much time you spend on each of these to stick to the deadlines will be a huge benefit.
4. Relationship Skills
We all know that ‘people buy from people’ which means that one of the most essential selling skills you need is the ability to make people like and trust you. Some key techniques include things we’ve already mentioned like active listening and good communication, but you’ll also need to demonstrate empathy, find common ground, and show an active interest in their success.
Knowing how to build a rapport with prospects and develop useful relationships that will drive people to you when they’re ready to buy are some of the best skills you can have as a salesperson. These can also help you to develop the value of your existing accounts through upselling to those who already like and trust you.
Developing relationships with key influencers can help you to start conversations and close sales with decision-makers. With so many people likely trying to sell them a similar product, having someone they already trust as an advocate for your brand can be the single factor that makes them choose you.
Similarly to communication, some people believe that others are simply ‘better’ at building relationships with prospects but all of the necessary techniques and skills can be taught.
5. Negotiation Skills
There will always be a buyer that you need to negotiate with – but it doesn’t always have to feel like haggling. While many buyers will anticipate some negotiation when talking to a salesperson, learning more subtle negotiation skills (e.g. consultative selling) can help you to close deals with difficult buyers in a manner that feels friendly and supportive.
Strong negotiation skills can also help you to navigate difficult selling situations – even if it’s not technically a ‘negotiation’ you’re handling. Understanding how to identify and accommodate the needs of your buyer while still delivering value for your brand can be a complex but rewarding task, often yielding long term customer value.
6. Problem Solving Skills
Similarly to negotiation, problem-solving skills can be a lifesaver when salespeople are handling objections or selling in difficult situations. Quickly and confidently handling objections by solving the problem the buyer has with the offer can lead to higher closing rates and a greater level of trust from the buyer. Well-practised problem-solving skills can also help you recover when presented with unexpected challenges during a selling situation.
7. Research skills
Behind every consistently successful salesperson, is a strong set of research skills.
Research is an essential part of the sales process that allows you to identify and qualify prospects, gather and analyse data that may impact the conversations you have, understand the challenges a buyer currently faces and drive your own sales skills development.
Without this research sales skills stagnate, conversations are uninformed, and luck becomes a big factor in your closing rates.
If you’ve found yourself struggling to make sales, or asking yourself “what are buyers looking for from sellers?”, it’s probably time to brush up on these essential selling skills. Improve your essential skills with our Essential Sales Skills course – available as a public workshop, in-house session, or live online course.
Think Selling Sales Training offers a range of courses suited to everyone from individuals looking to develop their own sales skills to companies looking to improve the performance of their whole sales department.