What are Sales Skills?
Sales skills are defined as the set of abilities required in sales jobs. Sales jobs are omniscient since they are present everywhere. No matter where the person goes, he will always be able to find a selling job because every business, every shop, and every service provider has to sell his offering in the market. The product must reach the customer, and sales are the only way by which it can be done.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that selling is the backbone of every organization, and it is the only revenue generator. There is no other process in the organization that can generate revenue apart from sales.
Therefore, to generate maximum revenue, the organization’s employees must have relevant skills for the job. Common misconception says that communication is the only thing required in sales. But that is far from true because there are many skills which are necessary for a sales job.
Some would argue that customers these days would prefer the online purchase of the product. But face-to-face convincing remains the best way to sell a product.
No matter how far technology goes, human intervention and human presence would always make a difference in the process of selling. The following are a few of the sales skills required for a successful career in Sales; however, the list is not exhaustive.
Essential Sales Skills
1. Active listening skills
Let’s start with the basics. Selling is entirely based on communication, but it is equally based on listening as well. You will not be an excellent communicator if you do not listen well.
There is a difference between hearing and listening, and being in this profession, you have to understand the difference between both. Hearing is when someone is talking to you, and you are thinking of something else. You are present physically with the person and are pretending to listen, but you’re not exactly listening.
You might be sitting with your customer and thinking you want to crack this deal rather than focusing on what the customer is saying, or you may be thinking about the chocolate cake at your home.
Still, you are not paying attention to the person who is speaking to you. This is called hearing. Hearing leads to no results. What you have to do is listen and listen with attention.
When you talk with someone else, make sure that your entire focus is towards them rather than giving them divided attention. Listening will solve half of your problems because if you do not understand something, you will immediately ask the person.
On the other hand, in hearing, you will simply say yes or no so that the person stops talking, and you start talking. The ultimate goal of the hearing is for you to talk.
On the other hand, the goal of listening is to let the other person do the speaking so that you come to know what exactly he wants. Listening is also essential so that both of you are understanding at the same level.
For example, if a customer says that he is too busy to meet you today, it does not mean he won’t meet you ever. If you are hearing, you will simply say Yes and move on with another customer, but if you are listening, you will follow him up with ‘when would be the right time to talk to him?’
2. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is one of the crucial skills that salespeople should possess. Having emotional intelligence means knowing and understanding the customer and his emotions.
You have to empathize with your customer. There may be times when your customer may give unwanted answers to your approaches to selling a product. There are times when there are emotional outbursts from the customer.
A salesperson should not stop his work by getting emotional about sensitive responses from the customer. Sales jobs are often challenging, and it is not easy to sell a product to a customer.
Emotional intelligence also means that you should be able to understand the emotions by looking rather than having someone say you out. You should decipher the emotions of the customer from his body language and non-verbal gestures. Also, emotional intelligence would mean that you should be able to use your emotions.
For example, if there is a powerful message that you want to convey, then your tone should be authoritative.
If you’re going to convey something emotional, you should use relevant gestures and body language. While perceiving and using emotions is useful, you should also be able to manage your emotions. Not every offensive response should get an emotional outbreak.
Negative emotions should be kept in check so that they don’t spill out at the wrong place. Managing emotions is vital because unmanaged emotions will not help you to achieve your goals.
Resilience is crucial, especially in sales jobs. Salespeople have to be resilient when it comes to achieving their goals. But there is not a lot of resilience seen in people because they have to deal with a lot of rejection in a sales job. Not a lot of calls get answered, and not a lot of mails get a reply.
Even after putting so much energy and passion in your work, things do not materialize as intended, which could lead to frustration. Staying strong is the key, and you can stay strong by being resilient.
Even after multiple rejections, the person is expected not to give up and stay strong and continue his pursuance. The salesperson has to run behind numbers all the time, and achieving targets should be his focus.
Customer conversion is not an easy job, especially when it comes to high-value products. The salesperson is expected to double down and catch up with never take no for an answer.
Although salespeople get paid a lot, probably highest in any industry, the troubles they face and the hard work that they exert is unbeatable. Some would say that the pay is less as compared to the effort that they put in.
This is why salespeople should have resilience in them and should be gritty even after multiple rejections.
4. Relationship Building
Long-term relations are very crucial in sales. Most of the business which comes is with the help of long-term relations. Of course, the product quality matters, but the relationship with the customer is also essential. Relation selling skills come in handy when it comes to meeting the customer, getting the appointment, and selling the product.
When a salesperson has relations with a customer, it leads to relationship selling, which is beneficial for the salesperson in the long run. From the customer’s perspective, relationship selling helps because customers are not duped by anything or anyone new.
The customer trusts a salesperson who is meeting him for a long time. If the salesperson can manage the situation correctly, it will lead him to get the business.
While it takes a lot of effort to build a relation, equally, a lot of dedication is required to maintain that relationship. A small mistake may collapse the entire relationship built for a long time.
5. Efficient Communication
When it comes to selling a product, communication plays a vital role. Right communication can make or break a deal. The salesperson must be an effective communicator.
An effective communicator does not mean that he should be well-versed in ten different languages, but it means that he should know what to talk about and when to talk.
Asking polite questions while making appointments to a respectful push while making the decisions, the salesperson should be well-versed in different communications. He should be able to engage his audience from the first sentence itself so that the customer gives all his complete attention to him and gets him hooked from the first sentence.
Sometimes the decision-maker is not a customer himself but the people working for him or around him. The salesperson should be able to influence them as well while making his regular sales-calls. An effective communicator would be able to put the harshest of points through to the customer without the customer getting offended.
The salesperson should also be able to convince and motivate the customer to take up sales-related decisions as early as possible, purely based on his relation. He should be able to leverage the relationships that he has with the customer effectively.
Service motivation is one of the essential requirements if you are applying for a sales job. You should be able to identify the opportunities and spot them before the company or, at times, create an opportunity themselves.
The salesperson should be competitive when it comes to selling the product. An organization does not expect the salespeople to go to the office every day because they have their client visits scheduled.
This is where self-motivation is essential because they’re supposed to work when no one is looking at them. It is only the result which is measured when it comes to the sales person’s work. They face a lot of difficult times because of getting rejected frequently.
This can lead to demotivation. It’s the main reason why many people quit their sales jobs and shift to a different profile. This is why it is expected that the salespeople be self-motivated.
Perhaps the most critical skill is needed in sales, and in every other job is confidence. The salesperson should have confidence in his selling skills and himself. He must display confidence when interacting with the customer.
Confidence is the first thing that customers notice while interacting with the salesperson. Many types of research have shown that a confident person can conduct a sale more smoothly and has a better chance of winning. There is a difference between being confident and being overconfident, and a salesperson should understand the difference between them.
The attitude of ‘I will get this deal done’ can be termed as confidence, but ‘Nobody but I can do this deal’ is overconfidence that should be avoided. Knowing that there is rejection but still completing your job and informing the customer correctly about the product can also be termed as confidence.
Showing up every time with the same optimism despite rejections is also called confidence.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that confidence is the only thing that transforms a good salesperson into a great salesperson. Customer convergence sometimes happens because of confidence and optimism displayed by the salesperson.
8. The right amount of curious
Being curious is essential in sales. You have to be curious about many aspects of the customer. But knowing what to be curious about is also an art and takes experience to develop.
You don’t want to know the customer’s sleeping schedules or what kind of movies he watches. Instead, you should be aware of what is the customer using instead of your product or service, why does he prefer your competition, what is the requirement of the customer, what would be an added advantage to the customer, what are his hidden needs and how to uncover them, how to make the customer talk, etc. These are the things that are relevant to your business, and you should be curious about them.
Being curious about unnecessary things will not only cost you time and effort but also probably your job. Knowing such unnecessary things will not get you business, and neither will it help to achieve your numbers.
The other information which is not related to business can be termed as bonus information if you come to know about it. You can make use of that extra information to strike a conversation with the customer.
But that is not the only talk that you want to do with him because sooner or later, you have to shift your conversation to business.
9. Social Selling
Social selling has become more critical than ever. With the increase in technology and digitalization everywhere, social selling has become a sure shot way to get the customer’s attention.
Initial engagement can be done very effectively with the help of social selling. Understanding social media and using it for your advantage has become the norm in every business. Social media is utilized as a tool for getting effective conversion in the business.
It is also a tool to find the prospect and follow up with him. A smart salesperson will also be able to establish relations with the help of social media.
It is very critical that brands make their social media presence known to customers. Most customers are not aware of the product if the product is not on social media or if they don’t see their advertisement. No matter how good the product or a brand is, they must have a social media presence.
Being a salesperson, you should have the ability to promote your brand by social media if required. Contacting customers by digital means is becoming more and more relevant, especially with COVID-19, virtual interaction has gained a lot of relevance.
Face-to-face communication is no longer the only method of communicating with the customer. There are many times when the customer might be traveling and has a lot of time, and you may be required to pitch about your product on a phone call or a video call.
You should be that tech-savvy to handle such situations.
10. Product Knowledge
Knowing your product is more important than making the transaction. Relationship selling can get your business up to some extent, but there will be a time when you will get stuck because of not being aware of the product’s technicalities. Every customer will have a different doubt, and you cannot use one solution for all while selling the product.
Product knowledge is crucial, and it is a sure shot weapon that can be used for customer conversion. Convincing prospects on features of the product is easier than on relation. Product knowledge is, in fact, a fundamental skill in most of the organizations without which you will not be in the sales job.
Every detail about the product should be known to you, along with possible hurdles and its solutions. Since you will be one point of contact for all the customer queries, you cannot always depend on a product specialist to solve the customer’s doubts.
Sometimes you have to take up the job of product specialist and solve the problem of the customer.
It is not the product specialist who has made the sale, but the salesperson who has sold the product and the customer will always expect your support for the same.
Sales skills are necessary if you want to survive in a sales job. Many different skills are relevant for various industries, and it is a good thing to understand before you go into the sales job.
Some people have inborn sales skills and most of the others, harness and practice them regularly to improve it.