27 Must-Have Sales Skills To Become A Perfect Sales Rep
Are you aware that around 55% of salespeople lack basic sales skills? Shocking, right? This means that almost half of the sales workforce lags in the skills department! Obviously, it can be a significant cause of worry for both businesses and sales professionals as they can’t land more sales effectively. Perhaps this is why sales targets remain unachieved, and reps feel dejected!
If you are just starting your career in sales, you must master the main skills required before entering the arena. By preparing yourself well, you can expect better results. If you are unsure where to start, don’t worry as this blog post is for you! We will give you an overview of the top sales skills you need to learn and put into practice.
So, without much ado, let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- What Actually Makes a Great Sales Rep?
- Hard Skills Vs Soft Skills In Sales
- Top Sales Skills Every Sales Professional Should Have
- Product Knowledge
- Business Acumen
- Research/Information Gathering
- Strategic Prospecting
- Active Listening
- Emotional intelligence
- Relationship Building
- Effective Communication Skills
- Negotiation Skills
- Policy Knowledge
- Referral Marketing
- Client Engagement
- Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
- Knowledge Of Technology
- Project Management
- Public speaking
- Growth mindset
- Time Management
- Conflict Management and Resolution
- Sales Presentations & Sales Demos
- Social Media & Social Selling
- Closing Skills
- Client Nurturing AKA Customer Success
What Actually Makes a Great Sales Rep?
Wondering what makes a great sales rep? We’ll answer your question! Ideally, a sales rep has to be passionate about his/her work, communicate with prospects effectively, be persistent and persuasive in their approach, and have the drive needed to close deals. Having said that, there are certain things that you have to bear in mind as a sales rep, and that includes not being too pushy and aggressive. Nothing turns off prospects more than a rep shoveling down the product or service down their throat!
Hard Skills Vs Soft Skills In Sales
To excel in sales, you must have the perfect mix of hard and soft skills. Hard skills refer to technical skills you can learn during training and polish over time. On the other hand, you can’t measure soft skills. They are the interpersonal and intrapersonal capabilities of an individual.
Now that the distinction between the two is clear, let’s go ahead and look at what kind of skills you need to be a great sales professional.
The hard skills you need in sales include ample product knowledge, ability to use software tools, ability to listen to prospects, ability to handle conflicts, good knowledge of selling on social media, ability to provide demos and presentations, and much more.
The soft skills you have to develop to close deals better include a growth mindset, ability to adapt i.e, be flexible, be empathetic, possess emotional intelligence and resilience.
Let’s dive in to know these skills in detail for better understanding, shall we?
Top Sales Skills Every Sales Professional Should Have
1. Product Knowledge
Knowing your product well before you start reaching out to prospects is essential. This means knowing everything about its functions, features, and benefits. There are several reasons why this is so important. First, if you recommend a product you know very little about, it will make it much easier for the prospect to question your claims about the product. Second, if you sell a product you do not use, it will be more difficult for you to provide the prospect with any useful advice. In short, without having complete product knowledge, you can’t convince the prospect to invest in it and, at the same time, will be unable to handle their objections. Thus, it is better to equip yourself with the details of your offering to close more deals.
2. Business Acumen
It is not enough for the top management to have business acumen. Even sales reps should have the bend of mind to provide suitable solutions to prospects. Salespeople should clearly understand the business’s working so they can tweak their approach based on the prospect’s industry. It will help you build meaningful relationships with prospects, and they will look up to you for advice in the future too.
So, work on developing business acumen by gathering as much knowledge as possible about your business, product, or service.
Resilience is one of the most important sales skills you must have as a salesperson. It will help you get back on track after a setback and continue with your journey to close more deals.
Needless to say, being resilient can work well in helping you overcome the obstacles you face. Though it is difficult for everyone to handle failure, being resilient will make you recover from it faster so that it doesn’t hold you back. As a resilient sales rep, you will never give up easily and look for ways to solve the problem you face. Additionally, sales is a tough job, and when you are resilient enough and focus on the goals, it will help you stay on track even when things go wrong (which undoubtedly will!)
4. Research/Information Gathering
Your research skills will come in quite handy as a sales professional, whether you are an experienced sales professional or are just starting out. The sales prospecting stage will require you to gather as much information as possible about the prospects to personalize your outreach messages. Try to look for mutual connections so that the prospect is more likely to trust you. Basically, it would help if you found common ground to break the ice in your initial cold emails and calls.
5. Strategic Prospecting
Whether you are an experienced sales professional or are looking to establish yourself in the field, you will benefit when you possess strategic prospecting skills. Moreover, prospecting will give you a competitive advantage because you can identify and reach out to the decision-makers who can benefit from your offering. Search for prospects more likely to find your product or service useful. Therefore, qualifying prospects before pushing them further down the sales funnel is essential. On a different note, even if prospects you discover in the prospecting stage don’t convert, they can help you by providing referrals. While finding prospects manually is a task, you have sales automation tools like SalesBlink to help you find prospects easily from its vast B2B database.
6. Active Listening
When you are in sales, being an active listener is a must. No matter how good you are as a sales rep, you must listen to prospects to understand their needs and craft a personalized proposal that is relevant to them. Only if you know their desires can you help alleviate their pain points. It may be difficult at first, but once you get the hang of paying close attention to what prospects say, you’ll be able to build a bond with them. Needless to say, prospects will be happy when they realize that you are listening to them and taking all of the details into account. One way of impressing them is by providing a quick recap of what they said. It will certainly resonate well with them and may lead to a closed deal.
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see things from their perspective. In sales, you need to be empathetic because if you lag in that department, you can’t win the trust of prospects. As a result, it will never help you get to the grand finale.
You can build empathy with your prospect by opening up about what you have to face so that they also start sharing their experiences with you. The next thing you can do is be helpful to them genuinely without expecting anything in return. It can help you build a strong bond with the prospect and perhaps help you in the long run. When they really want to purchase a product or service, they will turn to you instead of your competitor.
8. Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and manage your emotions as well as those of your prospects. As a sales professional, having emotional intelligence will help you solve the prospect’s problems as you can gauge their feelings. Also, studies reveal that having a high EI can help you generate two times more revenue which will make you an asset for your organization. However, it is a soft skill that everyone does not possess. Nevertheless, don’t lose hope as you can develop it with proper sales training. Building your emotional intelligence can definitely help you go places as a professional.
9. Relationship Building
Building relationships with prospects involves finding common ground to carry on conversations not related to business. You can work on knowing about the prospect’s interests and make the conversation focus less on the product or service in question. The main aim here is to get the prospect to trust you more so that they are more likely to convert into paying customers. The truth is that most of this is considered to be too trivial, it is essential to close deals successfully.
It helps in connecting with the prospect at a personal level and builds a strong bond. They would come to you instead of going to a competitor who is only talking about the product or service.
The truth is that there is no replacement for human connection. No matter how advanced your sales tools are, they can’t replace the magic of human bonding. As a sales rep, you have to be good at it if you really want to leave a good impression on your prospects.
10. Effective Communication Skills
Besides being able to sell a product, a successful salesperson must also be able to communicate effectively with others. For this reason, developing good people skills is essential for you as an aspiring sales professional.
Having good cold emailing and cold calling ethics, listening skills and the ability to understand a customer’s needs are vital facets of people skills. Another important element is being able to empathize with a buyer and show them that you understand their situation. In today’s world, communication through email has made it easier for customers to get in touch with businesses, thereby demanding more personalized service. Same goes for virtual meetings in this post-COVID era. However, the absence of in-person interaction makes it more difficult to understand a customer’s needs, feelings, and expectations. This can contribute to lackluster customer experiences, leading to lost business, regardless of industry.
11. Negotiation Skills
Just like how you would say goodbye to a person who doesn’t want to do business with you, you need to learn how to negotiate the terms of a sale with a customer who is willing to do business with you. It is not always the case that customers will agree to your terms. You might have to offer them some incentives to get them to sign on the dotted line. In some cases, it will be necessary to offer them a different product or a better price, depending on whether you’re negotiating with a person or an organization. Learning how to negotiate can help you close deals efficiently.
12. Policy Knowledge
Though the top management needs to be aware of the organization’s policies, it would also benefit you as a sales rep if you stay updated with them. Most often, company policies are a part of the vision and goals of the organization, and you can use them as a standard for your sales process. The truth is that when you work in alignment with the bigger picture, you can always expect great results. Putting forth the company’s policies to the prospect will make them highly likely to get impressed with your knowledge and approach.
13. Referral Marketing
Getting referrals from happy customers is necessary to keep your pipeline filled with leads. It is not that you have to master as a sales rep because without referrals, you cannot expect to widen your customer base in a short period of time. For that, you have to keep solid bonds with your existing customers. It is not over after you close the deal with them, you have to keep in touch with them to see whether they have any issues with your product or service or you can help them in some way. It is quite obvious that you can’t ask them directly for referrals unless you are there in their good books.
14. Client Engagement
One of the basic sales skills you must have is communicating and mingling with people. You have to engage with prospects if you want to push them further down the sales funnel. It is obvious that when you connect with a prospect on a personal level, it helps you get more details about them that can help you nurture the relationship. It will also help you to provide them with the best possible solution to elevate their pain points. Basically, you have to understand the prospect well so that you solve their problem in such a way that they look up to you for advice even in the future. This way, you can build lasting relationships and connect to them for upsells later.
15. Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
Making the right decision requires you to consider all the options, both good and bad, and be able to identify the pros and cons of each.
When you’re presented with a choice, you can make either the easy or the correct decision. The only way to know for sure which one you should make is by considering both options and the consequences of each choice. This requires critical thinking, which is an important skill in any professional’s skillset.
You must be capable of presenting your product or service as a solution to prospects’ problems if you want to close deals. It is essential to understand that the prospect is not bothered about your product’s features; they only want to know how it can solve their problems. In short, you have to be creative to find a solution to a prospect’s problems.
Practicing these skills will significantly increase your sales professional effectiveness and separate the outstanding from the average.
16. Knowledge Of Technology
Sales reps must know how to use various sales automation tools as it forms the basis of the must-have sales skills. With so many AI tools coming up, you have to stay abreast of the times. It can speed up your process and reduce your time on repetitive tasks, leaving you more time for selling. While tools can’t replace a human, they can definitely simplify your job to the extent that you can focus on things that require your direct involvement. You can use sales automation tools like SalesBlink that help you from prospecting to outreach to closing and reduce your workload as a sales professional.
17. Project Management
You need strong project management skills to emerge as a top-performing sales professional. While project management may look different from what salespeople do, you should know that the aim is the same. Sales teams must determine the target and how they should use resources and effectively achieve different milestones. In this sense, the sales process is quite similar to managing projects. Therefore, as a sales rep, you must know how to manage projects. For that, you can turn to project management tools.
18. Public speaking
Not everyone likes to speak in front of a group of people, but public speaking is a skill that you must master as a sales professional. It will help polish your presentations/ demos further and make you look confident. The prospect is more likely to listen to a confident sales rep who knows what he is talking about. Although you may not be a born orator, you can always learn with the help of videos available online to sharpen your public speaking skills.
19. Growth mindset
Having a growth mindset means you don’t want to remain stuck in the same position for the rest of your life. It is a much-needed skill for a salesperson because you must keep yourself up to date and evolve over time. Having a growth mindset can take you places as far as your career as a sales professional is concerned. Nevertheless, adding more to your existing skill set constantly will work in your favor and help you grow as a sales rep.
20. Time Management
Every sales professional has a different working style, and some people may prefer to work more in an offline capacity. Managing their time can be crucial to getting things done for those who prefer to work remotely. There are several great tools out there that can help you to stay on top of your game. You can choose sales automation tools to increase your productivity and reduce spending time on repetitive tasks.
Try using time management software to create to-do lists and prioritize them. Also, create sticky notes for yourself on the wall or even on your desk. If you know you will be traveling during a specific time frame, create a list of things to do while you are away. This will help you to stay productive and make the most of your time.
In sales, there are occasions when there are changes in plans all of a sudden, and you have to get accustomed to them. There may be rescheduled meetings and unexpected questions from the prospect during presentations or demos. It is, therefore, up to you to learn how to be flexible in such situations. By mastering the skill of flexibility, you can manage the show without any awkward moments and stay strong throughout. The truth is that everybody likes confident people who can easily handle every kind of situation.
As a sales rep, you’ll have to handle several accounts at a time, and for that, you need to have organizational skills. Without this basic skill, there are charges of forgetting entirely about a prospect which can lead to your loss. Once you learn how to organize yourself, you can remove a lot of confusion from your life. Therefore, being organized is a must-have skill for any professional who wants to reach new heights.
23. Conflict Management and Resolution
There are always chances of customers raising complaints and even rejecting your product or service. In such situations, you have to be capable of handling conflicts and objections. As you don’t know when such situations may arise, it is essential to always be ready to handle them. Instead of seeing it as a problem, you have to view them as an opportunity to show your capability and win the hearts of your customers. How well you handle conflicts and resolve them speaks volumes of your skills as a professional, and you mustn’t leave any stone unturned to impress prospects/customers.
24. Sales Presentations & Sales Demos
It goes without saying that you have to be good at presenting and providing sales demos to prospects. Your ability to provide a proper walk-through to the potential customer can make or break the deal. Therefore, you must master the skill of giving a presentation and product demo. However, you have help at hand for this in the form of presentation software. If you are able to present confidently, it is highly likely that you will get the nod from the decision-makers. For that, you must believe in yourself, along with honing your public speaking skills.
25. Social Media & Social Selling
With the rise of social media platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, all sales professionals should have a decent understanding of each of them. You can use social media to your advantage by creating engaging content that people want to share. Learning to use social media to build relationships with prospective customers won’t take long. You can always learn some of the tricks of the trade from the experts online, and you’ll be on your way to success.
26. Closing Skills
Bringing the prospect to a sale’s closing stage requires a lot of skill. Closing is a point in the buyer’s journey where the prospect finds that the product or service you are selling perfectly fits their needs. It is a basic skill that every sales rep has to master. Therefore, you must put in extra effort to improve your closing capabilities. In short, you have to drive the prospect to the point that they cannot disagree with what you offer them. In most companies, sales reps with more experience are preferred for the closing stage, but you have to work on your skills no matter what.
27. Client Nurturing AKA Customer Success
Once you make a sale, it does not mean the end of the journey. You can always reach out to your existing customers for upsells, and cross sells. Therefore, you must nurture your clients and have a good rapport with them. Try making them feel special by offering them amazing customer service. How you behave with your customers after making a sale can hugely impact your relationship with them. You must have the skill to build a strong bond with them so that you never get disappointed when you approach them for business.
Start Improving Your Sales Skills!
Though the above skills are essential, you need to stop there. Once you’ve seen some progress, take it as a sign that you’re making the right choice and continue to work hard. Always aim to improve your sales skills list, stay updated and continue to learn new things. It is the mark of successful sales reps. In the end, you’ll be doing your prospects and yourself a favor by helping them realize their dreams and getting them to purchase the products they really want.
So, start working on your sales skills today and see how it changes your performance.
The best ways to improve your sales skills include being a part of sales meetings and conferences more often, reaching out to as many prospects as possible, and following what experts in the field have to say.
In order to succeed in sales, you must communicate effectively and have complete product knowledge. It will help you leave a positive impression on the prospect, ultimately leading to a closed sale.
As a sales associate, you must master all the hard and soft sales skills before turning into a serial closer! Right from communication skills, and social selling to the knowledge of technology and time management, there’s a lot to learn.