Sales are defined as the exchange of goods or services against money. The salesperson is the one who does the sales job. There are two parts to this definition: Selling a product or service and taking the money. The job of salesperson ends when the payment is realized and not only when the sale happens.
A sales job is a strenuous job which requires efforts not only physical but also mental. It is one of the easiest to get and most difficult to maintain but at the same time, a very lucrative and high paying job anyone can get.
Since the dynamics of the market have changed, it has become one of the most challenging jobs in recent times. However, if you want to make a successful career in sales, the following are the abilities and skills you must have for the same.
1) Interpersonal skills
Sales job involves meeting different people, talking, making them talk, convincing about product features and quality and finally making the sale happen. For this, the one of the primary sales abilities to possess is interpersonal skills. This includes not only being talkative but also having a meaningful conversation, active listening, and problem-solving capabilities.
Talking to every kind of prospect, few may be introverts and misanthropists, and opening them up and making the sale happen requires huge interpersonal skills. Communication plays a very important role in the sales job and this is the sort of communication that cannot be by-hearted. It has to be changed, modified and tailored for the customer to customer and as the time demands.
If the customer is busy, the conversation has to be kept crisp and to-the-point but if the customer is interested, the salesperson has to have the ability to keep him engaged as much as possible. Another part of interpersonal skills is to have Networking ability and develop many contacts which can be leveraged if need be. Sales job works better on positive referrals and thus interpersonal skills can be helpful in every sales job.
2) Product knowledge
A conversation without meaning – especially in sales job – would be a chit chat and while dealing with customers, time is money. Product knowledge makes the conversation interesting and generates respect from customers.
Finally, the objective is sales and not an exchange of pleasantries, although this is a way through which sales can be achieved. Having a thorough product knowledge helps in faster conversion since it removes technical barriers, if any, faster. Product knowledge is especially important in the case of innovative products and where price is the biggest hindrance for getting a sale. In the case of economically lesser priced products, the price will play a major role in conversion.
Consider a glass of wine – too much of wine is not suitable for everyone while too much of water dilutes the taste. Product knowledge is wine and too much of meaningless conversation makes the sales call dull and unproductive. A general observation is to keep the ratio of 70:30 of technical talk and pleasantries or general talk.
3) Problem solving and solution providing skills
These two are opposites of the same coin. The sales people’s job – ultimately is to get sales – and from a customer’s point of view, this means additional cost. Hence every visit from a salesperson is not a welcome visit because at some level, the customer is going to have to pay either for product or service and customers see salespeople as simply salespeople.
In order to avoid that, a salesperson must have problem-solving sales abilities. There are many times when customers are stuck in small problems and salespersons can see that as an opportunity and solve the problem for the customer. For example, if you visit a customer for insurance sale and while filling online documentation, you see that customer is struggling with his phone because a particular app is misbehaving, the salesperson can help the customer by suggesting an alternative free app.
This is not a great gesture of help but the salesperson has proven useful at that particular incidence and the customer sees him now as a solution provider rather than simply a salesman. Such small gestures require no extra effort but go a long way in developing business.
4) Good Rapport
Not everyone has the ability to develop rapport and it varies from person to person – entirely based on the nature of the person. At times a customer may ‘seem’ rude and may not be that way. It may be in his nature to talk loudly and at times sarcastically. Having the skill of developing rapport helps you to bond with any type of customer.
Do not consider that to develop the sales abilities of rapport building, you need to have multiple personalities that change customer to customer, instead have a flexible attitude and an open mind towards every customer and improvise your behaviour a little to match the customer’s nature.
Dealing with a talkative customer would require you to talk more and dealing with the introvert customer requires less talk but more facts and product knowledge, inquisitive customers require more reference and competitor users require freebies. Knowing which to use when would help you get a good rapport with customers.
5) Assertiveness and Aggressiveness
A sales job requires persistence while pursuing a lead. At times, it requires problem-solving skills but with certain merely stating the fact is not enough. The sales person would require assertiveness on his part and certain aggression while putting forth his point. Being assertive does not mean being dominant but rather a combination of politeness coupled with straightforwardness.
The salesperson should keep in mind to turn up or down the assertiveness depending on customer since using over-assertiveness with the wrong customer can close the sale for a long time.
6) Time Management
Sales calls can be scheduled as per the customer convenience and it can be quite hectic requiring running around by salespersons most of the days unless the salesperson has time management skills. Prospects can of be of various kinds – ones which are interested and ones which are simply window shopping.
The salesperson should be knowledgeable enough in the first few visits to segregate which customers to focus on and save time. Thus, time management is one of the important Sales abilities to have in a sales person.
7) Analyzing skills
Sales jobs are all about targets and hitting the numbers. The salesperson should know his target thoroughly and have a prospect list ready to meet it. Calculating numbers, knowing targets, having a prospect list, working on leads, lost customers and rest all require analyzing skills. The analysis should be constant and the strategy and approach to the customer can be decided accordingly.
8) Tech savviness
Sales in modern times is not only limited to offline selling. With the advent and widespread of the internet, the use of technology has become very common in sales calls. Tools such as tablets, laptops are very common in a sales call.
Not every product can be carried by the salesperson for demonstration and in those cases, tablets come in handy. Showing interactive videos gets the customer involved and keeps the attention and for that, a salesperson should have basic IT skills. They also come in handy while preparing reports and submitting presentations to the company. Latelt, the adoption of technology and its affect in sales has increased and hence technology is one of the top and must have sales abilities in sales people nowadays.
9) People management
Almost every sales job requires people management. A sales manager would be required to manage his sales team while an individual contributor would require to manage and coordinate with delivery by managing the logistics and support people. This requires patience, understanding, and ability to manage all sorts of and natured people.
10) Body language, formal approach, and business etiquettes
These are the most basic skills required. Any sale, may it be selling candy or selling a factory machine, requires proper dressing – preferably business formals, a professional approach towards customers and basic etiquettes. A talented sales person with a manner less shabby look won’t be entertained by any customer, while a formally dressed sales person with proper manners makes an impact and the message of ‘No-nonsense’ goes out loud and clear.
Taking an appointment before the meeting, if called the customer, the first question should be – ‘Is this the right time to talk’, having politeness and addressing the customer appropriately are few things to follow for a successful sale.
11) Positive approach
In the end, it’s all about having a positive approach to a sales job. Sales jobs have maximum rejections from customers but the regularity and keeping the visits constant can help convert the customers. At times, in spite of putting maximum efforts, the conversion may not happen and in those cases, it is essential to maintain a positive approach to get over the lost lead and pursue the new lead with renewed vigour.
Above were all the different Sales abilities you should have to improve your sales and selling skills.