Every rep is different. Some love the relationship building, talking to people and getting to know them. Others like to get down to brass tacks, helping prospects find solutions to their problem.
And every rep will have a unique approach. But here’s the thing.
Regardless of what rep you’ve got, there are always going to be some sales 101 foundational skills for sales they’ll need to master.
Here’s our list of top skills for sales that we think every rep should have in their arsenal.
1. Active listening
Communication plays a key role in the day-to-day life of a sales representative.
Whether with customers, prospects, or colleagues, learning how to communicate effectively is vital to your success. Learning how to be a good listener will let you meet the needs of your customers as best you can.
And listening doesn’t mean just not talking to get your Gong ratios right. Active listening is when you focus on what’s being said so that you understand, respond to, and remember the conversation. This is a core skill for sales because it helps you both build empathy with your prospect, and uncover the problem that you can help them solve. When you're training sales reps, active listening should definitely be core focus.
Effective selling is all about nurturing a relationship with your customers. It isn’t enough to tell them about your product – you need to create a personal connection to develop meaningful customer relationships. Sometimes, it can feel like a clunky activity.
You’re a busy rep, and you don’t have time for 10 minutes of chit chat. But the benefit you gain, both in your champion fighting internally for you and for the additional key info you’ll uncover make the time investment well worth it.
Hot on the heels of relationship building is empathy. The key skill for sales here being empathetic. Now before we go further, let’s just clarify what empathy actually is, especially when it’s contrasted with sympathy.
- Empathy is the ability to put yourself in the shoes of someone else and see the world from their perspective.
- Sympathy is the ability to feel for and understand what someone else is going through. You feel bad about their situation, but you’re not necessarily capable of putting yourself in it.
While these are both skills for sales reps to hone, empathy is the more critical one.
Being able to empathize with your customers will go a long way in developing productive relationships.When you have a strong relationship with your customers you set yourself apart from the competition. Listening, observing, and truly understanding their challenges and perspectives will make it far easier to find solutions.
4. Market Knowledge
It’s not enough to simply know your product.
Every sales 101 training video will tell you that you also need to know how your product fits into the market as a whole so you can outsmart and outsell the competition. This will also allow you to expand your sales pitch when you can explain why your product is the best one on the market, plant “landmines” for when your prospects are talking to your competition, and refine your pitch to avoid areas where your competition is strong.
5. Objection Negotiation
Ah, the dreaded “no”. You’re bound to come across a few rejections to your sales pitch.
Objections can be avoided by doing your research and strategizing how to move companies from prospects to customers. Asking the right questions and listening carefully to the responses will let you anticipate and avoid any objections.
The sales process all comes down to sealing the deal. Effectively communicating the value of your product along with a suggested timeline will give you a better chance of closing a deal so you can meet any targets or quotas you may have.
Skills for sales wrap up
There are plenty of skills for sales reps to work on. And as enablers, our role is to make sure that every skill is up to snuff. That said, there are foundational skills that, if honed, can make a big difference to your bottom line.
What kinds of skills do you have in your arsenal? Can you identify your strengths and weaknesses? As a sales representative, these are crucial questions to ask yourself.
Knowing where you stand and being able to self-evaluate will set you on the right path towards becoming a stronger salesperson. While it’s counterproductive to sell yourself short and undervalue your skills, it’s beneficial to figure out where you have room for growth.