Discover the 15 Must-Have Sales Skills for Advancing Your Sales Career

sales-skills
15 Must-Have Sales Skills for Advancing Your Sales Career

A strong sales team is a key contributor to a company’s success; however, regardless of company strategy or reputation, a team with strong sales skills is what helps in achieving sales targets. Whether it's communication to negotiation, sales skills require time to develop, and can be refined with enough hard work. We’ll go through the diverse types of sales skills, as well as ways you can develop your own sales skills in this article.

Important Sales Skills Every Salesperson Should Possess

sales-skills

A salesperson should possess the fundamental sales skills required for success; however, in order to level up your sales, consider reviewing your skillset and identify your weaknesses. We’ve curated a list of skills which every sales professional should possess, and how you can adopt them into your work.

Business Acumen

The ability to work in a professional corporate environment is crucial to a sales role. Being able to understand business decisions, and make judgements will allow you to adapt to making sales in different contexts with ease. For example, knowing business terminology and typical processes would allow you to keep up in a corporate context. 

Product Knowledge

A strong understanding of your company’s product will allow you to connect with your customer’s pain points more clearly. By knowing the product inside and out, you can make confident suggestions and convince your customers with ease. To build this sales skill, spend time reviewing your target customers and the products you sell, to gain a better understanding. 

Communication 

All sales professionals make a sale through communicating. Strong verbal, written, and social communication is all required for sales professionals. To build this sales skill, make time to reflect on your current communication weaknesses, or seek advice from a coworker or manager to see where you can improve.

Active Listening 

Active listening involves being a thoughtful listener or participant in a conversation. It is not only just a polite way to behave in conversation, but doubles up as a sales skill as it can provide you with valuable insight into your customers that you might not have heard if you were passively listening.

Prospecting and Lead Generation

This is a skill which can help you build out more sales connections and gather more long term clients. By scoping out who you can provide to, you can generate a better understanding of your customer and build towards sustainable sales. This is a hard skill, which you can learn by learning and implementing marketing concepts. 

Risk Management

This sales skill involves identifying potential risk and creating strategies to mitigate it. A crucial part of sales, understanding risk management allows you to make confident choices in your sales scoping and pitches. To build up risk management sales skills, you can consider taking a course in risk management, or asking a manager for their tips and advice.

Problem Solving

This is a fundamental hard skill which should be worked on, even if you are not a sales professional. Being able to solve customer problems is the ultimate sales skill, as you both will benefit from it. Problem solving is a complex skill which requires some time and effort, but can be achieved through logic puzzles, games, or through books on problem solving through a business perspective.

Customer Service

Being able to interact with customers in a polite yet effective way is crucial to sales. Soft skills like customer service are valuable sales skills, as you will need to build a relationship with customers and leave a good impression on them. Reflect on your interpersonal skills such as empathy and openness

Relationship Building

Another soft sales skill, building strong relationships with customers is key to maintaining a long term sales pipeline. This requires interpersonal and organizational skills, so you can develop meaningful connections to drive consistent sales. This can be done by building skills in time management, active listening and consistent communication.

Collaboration

Collaborating in sales is key to achieving goals set for the sales team. Being a team player, and helping others with their sales pitches or strategies will benefit everyone in the long term. Being an open communicator and sharing ideas freely also allows you to communicate with clients in a more relaxed way. To develop this skill, work cooperatively with others, share ideas, and work towards common goals if you have been given them. 

Tech Savviness

Staying on top of the trends in technology will allow you to have a repertoire of in-demand sales skills. Especially if you work in a tech-heavy industry, being in the know about competitor products, new features and trends will allow you to provide up-to-date advice to your clients. To build this sales skill, stay on top of the news and trends for sales technology and software, as well as any tech that you think your competitors or clients use. 

Sales Demoing

Being able to show your customers what you are offering them is a fundamental sales skill. Sales demos require communication, product knowledge and interpersonal skills such as empathy and active listening. To develop your sales demoing skills, consider doing workshops with coworkers and supervisors for advice on how to improve.

Social Selling

This relates to the branding of your business or product, to show your customers what value you provide. Knowing your company’s marketing position will allow you to relate to the customers expectations, and make sales based on the value they expect. To improve this sales skill, review your company’s branding, value proposition and marketing strategy and pick key points to weave into your sales pitch.

Adaptability

Being adaptable is a necessary sales skill, so you can find a solution which works for your customers whilst still making a successful sale. When you are provided with sales targets or quotas, it can be difficult to adapt in ways that don’t align with the goal. Ultimately, a sale is a success, and providing a customer with an offer they will buy is a win. To become an adaptable salesperson, understand your products well, learn to listen to customer needs, and work on creativity and flexibility in thinking.

Emotional Intelligence

This involves understanding how other people think and feel, in a way that you can relate and empathize with them. Customers will come from all backgrounds, and being able to understand them as a person will greatly help you in your sales. Improving skills in empathy, understanding and active listening will help you improve this sales skill.

How to Improve Sales Skills?

Continuous learning is key to success in any field, including sales. Improving sales skills takes time and effort, but will pay off in the form of increased sales. To improve your sales skills, you can first reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. After knowing what you want to address, you can consider: 

Sales Training Programs 

Look up if there are any workshops or training programs for sales professionals near you. If there is none, look at places like Coursera to see if there are any online courses for the sales skills you would like to improve.

On-the-job Training

Ask your HR or team leader if there is any training offered by your company for the sales team. If there is not, ask for a performance review to see which sales skills you could improve. You could also organize a workshop for your team if you are all looking to improve your sales skills, and provide advice to each other. 

Networking Events

Try networking with societies or organizations in your area, to see if you can build connections with other sales professionals. This is not only a good way to work on your interpersonal sales skills, communication and relationship building, but a good way to find people who would be interested in helping in your career development. You can look for these networking events through LinkedIn.

Guidance for Those Seeking Sales Opportunities

Showcasing the sales skills you developed can help you in your job hunt. Knowing how to highlight these sales skills can help you get the edge when applying for jobs and attending interviews. Here are our tips to make sure your sales skills are highlighted in the job application process: 

Quantify Achievements

Put down the exact results which came from your sales strategies. Attach your sales skill with a quantitative result, such as a percentage, revenue amount or KPI goal. Don’t be shy!

Highlight Key Skills

Include the sales skills you are most adept at, and most confident discussing in an interview, and expand on them in your resume. Choose sales skills which are fundamental to sales, but also consider including ones which can set you apart from other applicants. 

📚Further reading: 300+ Resume Action Words to Help You Stand Out from the Rest

Tailor to Job Descriptions

Always tailor your resumes to suit the job you are applying to. Change out some sales skills based on what makes sense to the job application. Pick a handful of fundamental skills, as well as any sales skills you can adapt to a range of applications. Use the terminology in the job application to edit your experiences and skills descriptions so they align.

As for the sales interview, you can also use it as an opportunity to showcase your skills. Not only can you demonstrate your interpersonal skills but there are also some ways you can naturally talk about your sales skills.

Use the STAR Technique

STAR stands for situation, task, action, result – and is a widely used method for interviews. Naturally, weave in your sales skills by practicing the STAR technique to mention your sales skills and the achievements you have made.

Demonstrate Product Knowledge

Research your company before interviews and try to understand their product and customer base. This naturally shows off your product knowledge skills, as well as allows for you to answer situational questions with ease. 

Discuss Sales Processes

Show your fundamental knowledge in sales by talking about the sales process in your interview. This way, you can show the interviewer you are a capable sales professional, who has well developed fundamental sales skills.

Key Takeaways

In summary, sales skills are a mixture of hard and soft skills, ranging from problem-solving to communication. The sales skills you should focus on will depend on your industry, but having well-developed fundamentals will be key to your success. Reflecting on your sales skills and actively improving them will allow you to become a better salesperson. Always remember to highlight these skills in your resume and interviews, tailoring them to the job. Check out CakeResume for more articles about improving your sales career!

CakeResume is a free resume maker and portfolio builder that provides hundreds of resume templates (free download) and various job resume examples to help showcase the best you. Landing your dream job will be a piece of cake!

--- Originally Written by Bronte McNamara ---

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