Effective selling goes beyond mastering Excel spreadsheets or knowing how to use the latest sales software. Technology can never replace sales skilld. That’s why you must be in tune with your soft and hard selling skills.
Many studies and books have attempted to identify what makes a good sales web, but there are no conclusive findings yet. So, having interviewed some of the most prominent names in sales and my own experience, I’ve listed some of the most critical skills for sales executives.
You can get some sales skills from on the job training, other important sales skills require an online course or other training instead. But everything listed in this post is achiveble for the average sales representative and they’ll help you become a successful salesperson.
We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started!
Soft Sales Skills for Sales Reps
Soft skills are informal abilities you learn over the course of your sales career. Generally, it indicates your attitude in performing common sales-related tasks and connecting with other people.
A) Strong Communication
Communication skills serve as the foundation of building meaningful relationships with both potential new and existing customers. It allows you to set expectations and tactfully discuss your prospect’s pain points and position your offering as the superior solution.
What’s more, communication here goes beyond speaking clearly. It also involves:
- Having excellent writing and presentation skills to interact over email, virtual meetings, social media, and in-person.
- Communicating effectively throughout the sales cycle—right from cold outreach and follow-up to closing deals.
If you’ve been following our blog, you’ll know I‘m a big advocate for using storytelling to get more deals.
Story telling isn’t just underrated, it’s one of the most important sales skills out there. You’ll leverage story telling everywhere from a job interview to strategic prospecting with your biggest opportunities.
Selling isn’t just about discussing product features. You must also convince customers these features will solve their problems and benefit them by generating more money or improving processes.
Here, a good tip is to tell a story that deeply resonates with your target audience. This will help you supercharge your communication and guarantee your message meets its target. Moreover, compelling storytelling doesn’t only help with face-to-face conversations but also ensures your emails get opened and replied to.
C) Critical Thinking
Great sales reps have to gather and work through an ocean of data. But simply having access to the data won’t get you anywhere—you also need critical thinking skills to process the information, analyze disparate data, and identify relevant bits of data from the heap.
Knowing how to effectively negotiate and zero on terms that make both you and the prospect happy is a crucial selling skill. It’ll also help you overcome objections during negotiations and develop creative solutions to take your deal towards completion.
Aim to create an environment where your prospect and you can set mutual expectations and benefits.
E) Time Management
You’ll always be under the pressure of closing more deals faster. To ensure you always meet your sales quotas, you have to master the art of managing your time wisely.
And while this may look very obvious, many sales reps fail to make the most of their time. Case in point: sales reps spend nearly two-thirds of their time doing non-revenue generating activities.
Try to be as efficient and productive as you can. I highly recommend using sophisticated CRMs like HubSpot to monitor key activity metrics and better manage your schedule. Trust me; you’ll see immediate results.
Hard Sales Skills for Sales Reps
Hard skills are technical and formal abilities you learn from academic institutions, seminars, training courses, and workplaces. Role-critical skills specialized for carrying out a specific function also fall under this category.
A) Active Listening
In addition to knowing how to speak concisely and clearly, you should also know when to shut up.
Listening is equally essential in sales, as it helps help you understand:
- where your clients are coming from
- what are their pain points
- how to effectively provide solutions for their challenges.
Knowing this information will help you successfully execute other stages in the sales process, such as lead qualification and customer-solution matching.
B) Product Knowledge
The best sales professionals know everything they can about the product or service they sell—how it works, the business value it offers, how it compares to competitors, and why it appeals to their target audience.
This will help you write better sales pitches, as well as prepare for every question, objection, or comment a prospect makes. Interestingly, having in-depth knowledge and expertise of the product is what separates the top 1% of sales reps from the rest.
Study your product in detail and understand the market trends so you know what your prospect wants, like the back of your hand. Go through product marketing collaterals extensively, sign up for training courses, and ask questions to your superiors and other sales reps.
C) Sales Demos and Sales Presentations
Giving excellent sales demos and presentations conveys subject mastery and makes it more likely for the prospect to trust you.
That’s why you should familiarize yourself with popular presentation software tools, such as PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi, to make good sales presentations. Work on your presentation and public speaking skills while you’re at it for the best results.
D) Knowledge of Common Sales Software and Solutions
As a sales professional, you should know how to use popular platforms, software, and tools your organization and competitors use to engage customers and streamline workflows.
Learn how to take advantage of various sales tools and sales enablement solutions, whether it’s a CRM, a workplace productivity app, a document management software, or a call intelligence tool. This will simplify the selling process and make it more profitable.
Now, you don’t have to be an expert at using sales technology. But you know enough to get the job done quickly.
E) Social Media Skills and Social Selling
Social selling is more important than ever. We live in a technology-first world today, where social media is turning out to be the most critical tool for sales reps.
Use it to oversee your organization’s (and yours) online presence. Implement social media best practices and tricks to engage with prospects on popular social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter—or any other network—that can help bolster your lead generation and sales conversion efforts.
Social selling can also be helpful to understand and build better relationships with your prospects.
Other Selling Traits to Hone
Here are a few more sales skills to ensure your long-standing success.
Developing an ambitious and self-motivated mindset will help you work better under pressure, take rejection gracefully, and beat expectations.
Sales is a highly dynamic niche. Customer demographics, tools and technology, customer preferences—everything is changing at an extraordinary speed, and you need to be at the top of it all to succeed.
When you’re adaptable, you can easily sail these currents of change easily. Unfortunately, sales professionals that lack a flexible mindset find meeting their quotas a lot harder.
There will always be an ambitious, attainable goal to be reached in sales. Having a goal-oriented outlook will make sure you focus your attention and efforts on achieving—even surpassing—the target.
Some of us are born with extraordinary selling abilities. Those who aren’t can put in a little effort and learn these qualities to get on the same level.
After all, great sales professionals aren’t just born—they can also be made. Start small by improving your communication and listening abilities, and eventually, you can sign up for sales courses to iron out the technicalities of your sales job.
Watch our free sales training webinar and get a head-start in your pursuit to become better at selling.