A career in sales can be tough for even the most seasoned salesperson. There are quotas to meet, products to push, and customers to please. You’re expected to always be at the top of your game, outselling your competition. It’s a cutthroat business at times—one you have to navigate with poise.
For that reason, the best salespeople have a certain set of sales skills they rely on to get them through their day. These sales competencies allow them to go above and beyond their peers, generating leads and closing deals in a way that impresses everyone from the rookies to the big boss. If you’re looking to win the Salesperson of the Year award, spend some time developing the following sales skills.
1. Product Knowledge
Salespeople get plenty of questions: “What’s the difference between these products?” “What does this feature do?” “What’s included in each package?” Knowing the answers is an important step in closing the deal. For this reason, product knowledge is one of the salesperson’s most important skills. The more you know about the product’s features and benefits, the easier it will be to sell.
Just as product knowledge is crucial, you also need to know how your product stacks up against those of your direct competitors. Take a look at marketing programs like SEMrush, which has an easy-to-use competitive analysis tool to help you keep tabs on the competition.
2. Communications Skills
Given that salespeople engage in many forms of communication, it’s no wonder that there is a demand for this sales skill. Effective communication can serve salespeople when they need to make an elevator pitch or conduct a presentation without flinching. But another aspect of great communication is active listening. When salespeople listen and attend to the needs of their clients, this can lead to better rapport with customers, as well as more prospects, productive discussions, and sales.
As you hone these skills, remember that communication is not always verbal. You’re communicating with every single email, social media post, voice message, and interaction. That’s why effective salespeople train themselves to send the right nonverbal cues.
To improve your nonverbal communication, ask yourself the following:
- What message are you sending with your body language?
- What does your writing style and grammar say about you?
- Are these cues helping or hurting your professional image?
Finally, taking courses in person or online from companies like Dardis Communications can help you communicate more professionally.
3. Networking Skills
In a perfect world, people would be lining up to buy your products and services—but it doesn’t always work that way. Usually, you have to bring customers into the fold. This is what makes networking one of the most crucial sales competencies you can develop.
Here are some ways to build your network:
- Use CRM tools to personalize customer experiences: Customer relationship management (CRM) tools, such as Salesforce, can help you connect with customers in a deeper and more meaningful way. Knowing how to use these tools is now a necessity for any aspiring salesperson.
- Embrace social media: Properly leveraging platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn can make it easy to increase your customer base.
- Attend events: While digital networking is great, hiding behind a computer screen all day is bad for your visibility. If you have a chance to attend a networking event in person, take it.
4. Organization and Time Management Skills
Keeping everything moving forward when you have multiple deals at various stages of the sales cycle can be challenging—especially if you don’t have good organization and time management skills. Here are some resources to help you better manage time:
- Note-taking apps: Using a note-taking app, such as OneNote, can save you a lot of time. The app fully integrates with the Microsoft Office suite, so sharing your notes with your team, tracking tasks on your projects, and capturing research is a cinch.
- Time management courses: If it seems like you’re spending more time chasing your tail than your leads, it’s time to put systems and procedures in place to help keep you organized. If you’re unintentionally ignoring someone at the beginning of the buying stage, they’re never going to make it to the end. So look for time management courses and check out this article on prioritizing tasks.
5. Negotiation Skills
It’s no secret that sales is heavy on give and take. Do you drop the price 10 percent or risk losing the customer? Can you toss in a freebie to sweeten the pot? Do you understand how to tell when a customer is ready to walk—and more importantly, what to do about it?
Learning how to read customers, overcome their objections, and manage the negotiation process is key in sales. And while many people are understandably uncomfortable in this area, there are plenty of seminars and training courses that can help you become a force to be reckoned with.
Although a career in sales isn’t without its challenges, the rewards can be fantastic for a salesperson who is willing to put in the work. And all the sales skills we covered here can help take you to the top of the sales leaderboard.
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