A salesperson is more than often the very first touchpoint that any potential customer has with your company. It’s therefore vital they be adept at selling directly to customers, while being strong representatives of the company, and possessing a deep knowledge of the products and services that will best suit a new prospect.
Encouraging your sales team to hone these skills will not only help their development but benefit your organisation in the long-run. To get you started, here is our guide to the ten key sales skills that define a strong salesperson:
1. Strong communication skills: A sales associate’s role is largely built around interacting with people, so being able to communicate with a wide array of people is crucial. Whether it’s helping customers with issues, reporting into and taking directions from their manager, or providing feedback to colleagues, communication is the bedrock of their success. Improving this is reliant on asking colleagues and customers for feedback, actively listening to that information and vice-versa.
2. Thinking customer-centric: Being the first point of contact for a new customer, the sales associate can often make or break a prospect’s opinion of your business. A successful salesperson, therefore, needs to have a customer-centric mindset to help potential customers discover the best solution to their specific issue or challenge.
3. Enthusiasm: A strong understanding of your business’ products and services is crucial to the success of any salesperson. But this alone isn’t enough. To truly add value the salesperson needs to have a genuine enthusiasm for the company’s offering. This excitement for what they sell will rub off on potential customers, which will likely increase their opinion of the organisation and the chances of a sale.
4. Problem-solving mindset: Solving problems quickly and decisively is key to any salesperson, which means being capable of thinking creatively. For example, if new prospects keep coming to the business with similar problems then the creative salesperson will come up with a solution or set of potential answers to likely questions. Sharing this information with the rest of the sales team will be useful, but providing it to engineering and production teams can you address any potential user experience issues.
5. An empathetic attitude: Every prospect your salespeople speaks to likely has a problem or challenge that they are looking for a supplier to solve for them. The salesperson is on the frontline, helping these potential customers to find the solution that will match their requirements. Being able to relate to that issue and quickly understand their particular problem is a crucial skill in making your business the one to provide a solution for them.
6. Ability to adapt: Most salespeople juggle many tasks while working to tight deadlines, which means adapting to new situations is crucial. Being able to adjust to anything that is thrown their way and competently deal with unexpected situations can be difficult is reliant on being open to new ideas and solutions. This can be as simple as knowing how to deal with a prospect that brings up a question the salesperson has never faced before or asks about a product feature they are unsure of. Being able to calmly tell the prospect that they don’t know the answer but will find out and follow-up promptly is better than panicking and guessing what the prospect wants to hear.
7. Time management: Building on the above, being able to handle multiple tasks at the time is an important tool in the salesperson’s arsenal. Time management is reliant on prioritising tasks, balancing how much time to spend with each prospect, and knowing when to pull the plug on a sales conversation.
8. Learning fast: A customer-facing role is more than often highly unpredictable. This requires the salesperson to quickly understand new selling processes, new products and solutions, and needs and challenges of new prospects. Honing this skill can often be encouraged by regular feedback from senior sales leaders and by creating smooth onboarding processes for your sales team.
9. Personal autonomy: A strong sense of get-up-and-go is crucial for salespeople to continually hit their sales targets. They need to be able to work independently on achieving their goals and have the personal responsibility to focus on the important tasks at hand while juggling multiple tasks.
10. The art of persuasion: Persuading a prospect that a product or service is the only, or most suitable, solution to their problem is possibly the most important skill for any salesperson. Achieving this is reliant on many of the points above, such as portraying empathy and understanding and solving customers’ individual challenges.
As the first point of contact with new prospects, businesses need their salesperson to be trustworthy, engaging, likeable and knowledgeable. Focusing on the skills above and providing sales training and personal development to hone these traits will be central to growing your business and improving your customer win rate.