In order to achieve success in business you have to master sales. And salespeople need to possess a combination of two main skills — hard and soft skills. In many cases, sales training emphasises hard skills, which are skills directly related to the sales world.
Examples of these include selling tactics, qualifying prospects, closing a sale, etc. However, most sales professionals believe soft skills are more important for new recruits to possess, according to a study by Millennial Branding.
Soft skills can be broadly defined as life skills and they are all teachable, yet they can sometimes be overlooked by formal training programs.
Below, is a look at five soft skills that are considered most critical for sales success.
In simple terms, good communication is the ability to get your ideas across effectively. It includes spoken, written and digital communication channels and is essential for sales success, as salespeople need to engage with customers in various different situations. For salespeople, the most important aspects of communication are to be clear, concise, purposeful and engaging, especially in face-to-face situations.
2. Decision making
Decision making is one of the most important soft skills for sales professionals to have and is often a priority when it comes to sales executive training, in particular. It refers to the ability to understand situations and take decisive action at the right times. Someone with good decision making skills will make sure they have the necessary information, consider possible options and then use their judgment to take the right action.
Businesses are increasingly moving away from single sales agents and towards a more team-orientated model, which means it is crucial for a salesperson to be able to work cohesively with others. A person with good teamwork abilities will be able to both give and receive instructions, offer support to other team members and ask for help when it is needed. Generally, teamwork also relies upon ideas of mutual respect and trust.
The move towards a team-based model, combined with the unpredictable nature of customer-facing roles, means that you need to possess flexibility to succeed. As such, flexibility can be described as the ability to break from the norm. It is important for salespeople, because there may be situations where they need to assume different responsibilities, play different roles, fill in for other team members or work different shift patterns.
Empathy can be summed up as the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and relate to the way they feel. In sales, this is sometimes referred to as having a high empathy quotient and it can involve predicting reactions and responses in advance. Empathy is paramount for a salesperson, as sales is a customer-driven industry, which relies upon understanding what customers want, need and expect, and then providing it for them.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Alison Brattle is a marketing manager at AchieveGlobal, a global sales training and leadership development firm based in the UK. It specialises in providing exceptional sales training courses and helps organisations develop business strategies to achieve sales success. Alison enjoys sharing her insight and thoughts to provide better sales and leadership training. Connect with @achieveglobal on Twitter.
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