Sales is one of the toughest jobs in all industries. This is because a sales guy has to face rejection over and over again and yet complete the targets they are given. Not an easy job at all. To do this, the sales person needs to know everything about the products they are selling and the company they belong to. Plus they need to understand their buyers and then find a middle way to make the sale.
There are some sales people who achieve targets much more easily then others. Just classifying them as Extroverts isn’t enough. These sales people use a combination of personal selling skills which helps them over a period of time to become very good salespeople, people who are able to connect to their clients, convince them and convert them.
Here are 10 Personal selling skills for successful sales.
1) Listening skills
Amongst all the different personal selling skills you can have, listening skill is the number 1. Obviously, if you have ears you are going to listen to the client . So why do all sales specialists emphasize the fact that you should have good listening skills? Well, let me change that statement for you.
All Sales men should have good understanding skills. You will not understand the client if you are not listening, will you? While listening to what he is saying, you need to understand and process the information he is giving you and at the same time plan your own sale. All this happens simultaneously.
For example – In a sale, client might give a hint that he is going away on this 24th. What if you presented him a discounted offer till 24th so that he can make an immediate decision? Listening to the details he is giving you is critical so that you can formulate a plan to close the sale.
2) Follow up
In high value sales where involvement of customer is high, the customer will never take a decision in one go. If I have to choose between an Audi, BMW or a Mercedes, do you think it is an easy task for me? I have to think through many things but in the end, I am most likely to go with the brand which serviced me best prior to sales.
If a BMW brand executive called me up a couple of times, sent brochures to my house and reminded me of an upcoming exhibition, it is most likely that out of courtesy itself, I will think of buying his brand above others. Just because he had the decency to keep in touch with me.
Similarly, for any high involvement purchase or for channel sales, follow up is must. In case of consumer sales, follow up with the end client is necessary. In case of channel sales, follow up with channel dealers is important. Never follow up too much so that the client gets irritated. An irritated client might ignore your brand even if he likes it.
3) Adaptability to the situation
A sales guy needs to adapt to the situation and respond accordingly. If you have a target of 100k, and you know that the customer is not going to agree to you, you need to plan your strategy accordingly and hard sell the customers who show more potential.
Another example of adaptability is a new region being given to you, where the brand you are selling is not as renowned. In such cases, you need to get into the skin of the customers and understand what they want from your brand. Sales can be easy in some cases but it might be difficult in others. You need to adapt wherever selling is difficult.
The best form of adaptability is seen in real estate. A real estate guy has a lot of inventory up his sleeves which he has to sell. He needs to understand the customer, his buying capacity, his preference and then suggest the right piece of land / flat to him.
If the sales guy doesn’t adapt to the type of client, and tries to sell something which is misfit, he is likely to fail. Adaptability is important amongst all personal selling skills for certain industries and sectors.
4) Tenacity – Doing the things which need doing
Tenacity sounds like a complicated word but it is in fact very simple. Stick to the task at hand for a long period of time. Many times, you get reference clients just because you waited after an exhibition and some introvert came to you for consulting.
For example, many times you followed up for a long time with the customer so the customer said yes. Many times, you didn’t lose patience and you closed the sale. Other type of example may include repeating cold calls over a long period of time. Going through the grind of meeting customers, pitching them, following up and keeping your motivation levels up.
In short, even if the job is tough, you need to keep doing it in the form of a cycle so that you create an amazing sales pipeline and get the results you deserve. If you get demotivated and break the cycle of lead generation, you will not reach far.
5) Organizational skills
A sales person has to be organized in the manner he handles himself. So if you have an appointment on Friday, you need to be ensure you are ready with your presentation on Thursday. You cannot make a presentation in the clients office on Friday morning.
A sales person needs to know what he has to do at what time. On the other hand, sales people handle many documents including cheques, quotations, legal documents, agreements etc.
What if, you met an important client but you forgot to send them a quotation and the client lost interest? What if the client was interested but you never followed up? What if, god forbid, you forgot the rates you had quoted to the client and you cannot find the quotation you sent him? You can possibly make a huge loss on the sale.
Everything needs to be planned and scheduled to bring results and hence, organizational skills is an important personal selling skill for most salesmen.
6) Communication skills
Without a doubt, one of the most important personal selling skills is the ability to communicate effectively with the client. If you go inside a retail showroom to select a range of products, you will most likely meet the retail executive. This executive is probably trying to sell too hard because he has his own targets.
But then you meet the manager and the communication level totally changes. The manager is smooth, he works in an advisory role and he will suggest the right things to you in a cool and calm manner. You listen to this guy and make your decisions. Now, the best executives are the ones, who catch on this manner of communication and try to convince the client in a cool and calm manner.
You need to communicate to the client the things which he wants to hear. This does not mean you are cheating the client. If I need a 4K TV and you are going on about the screen size then I am not interested. I am interested in the resolution of the TV, not the screen size. So you better repeat the words “4k Ultra HD tv” at least thrice in our meeting. That’s the communication level which is important.
7) Interaction ability
Imagine for a moment that you had a meeting with a purchase manager. And instead of the purchase manager, you met the director of the company. Now, this is a man who is capable of making the decision right then and there. But you are used to interacting with purchase managers only. So you need to step up to the game right? You should have the interaction skills so that you are able to impress anyone. This comes with practice which builds confidence. So start interacting!
A sales person should be capable of interacting with anyone and everyone. He needs to have a positive interaction ability within his own company as well. There are many rules which sales people break to achieve sales. Many of them should not be broken, but if some of them bring a positive result, then these rules can be broken. But to break those rules, you need the approval of higher ups or the commercial teams.
As a result, if you interact very less outside your own team, you don’t mix up with higher ups or commercial teams who approve orders, the result will be that you won’t get your work done. Or there will be problems when you need approvals.
Not only interaction within your team, even at the clients place, you need to interact with the receptionist (a good source of information), or other purchase executives who can give you good information. The better you are at interaction with unknown people, the better will be your results in sales.
8) Overcoming obstacles
Sales requires that you be ready to tackle many problems along the way. A friend of mine, a good salesman, once had a huge problem in front of him. He was trying to make a sale to a big company for IT infrastructure and support. This company had multiple offices.
However, the competitor brand had an excellent executive who was giving good services to the target company. As a result, my friend was never able to get through. But he kept his follow ups on, kept interacting with the key people around exhibitions. Guess what happened?
The competitor’s executive left the company for some other firm. My friend got his chance, and he had worked on this company for so long, that his relations were better then the competitor’s new executive. And he got the contract. He kept working and giving service to the target company for years and kept getting incentives for it.
Off course, sales is demotivating at times and can present many obstacles. But ultimately, the sales person should have the right attitude to overcome these obstacles.
9) Closing skills
Not all sales calls end in hard sales. But several of them do and that’s where closing skills are required. Some customers have problems with price, some have problems with service and others might have problems with the brand itself. If selling was so easy, your company would not have hired sales executive. It is because the going is tough that you have a job.
So, how do you close customers who don’t want to purchase your brand? Well, by the use of good closing skills. There are many different tactics to close a sale. I have written all about it in this article – How to close a sale.
By the use of good closing skills, you become a reliable sales person for your organization. You get the toughest clients who are most likely going to give huge turnover to the company. As a result, you might get the highest incentives too. Amongst all personal selling skills, it is the closing skill which is directly responsible for the incentives that you get. Close the sale repeatedly, and you will be showered with praises and rewards.
10) Time management
If a sales person has to juggle so many tasks at once and has to stay organized, calm, prepared, patient, then he needs amazing time management skills. Personal selling is all about creating a sales pipeline. And to do that, you need to meet as many customers as possible within a specified period of time.
Managing time is important because there is documentation to be done behind every sale but while doing this documentation, you are unlikely to meet more prospects. So you have only specific time to meet prospects and close them. As a result, the decision lies on you on which prospects to meet and which to avoid.
This is where the listening skills and follow up skills play a part. If you know that a customer is not going to buy from you, you are much better following up with them on phone then meeting them personally. Go meet the guy who you think is a sure shot sale. Spend some time on him and he might give more references.
Dividing your time between various existing clients, new clients and office becomes even more important as you move up the ladder and get a team of your own. In that case, you might be asked to take care of key accounts and at the same time close accounts for your team members. Time management becomes crucial as you move up.
Video on Personal Selling
Overall, above were the 10 most important personal selling skills which an individual should have if he has to be successful in sales. Not only do they help at executive or middle manager level, they also help even if you are the CEO of sales.