18 Sales Core Competencies To Develop for Success

It used to be that sales was a hands-on process that all but mandated our sales professionals meet buyers in the field of combat. Hiding behind a phone or an email might be useful at the top of the funnel, but landing the buyer and getting the deal was very much a face-to-face affair.

In fact, in HubSpot’s 2020 State of Sales report, they say a willingness to learn and great communication skills are as important as foundational sales knowledge in gaining traction in today’s marketplace. With 77 percent of sales professionals indicating that their meetings are all virtual, it’s easy to see why.

Core Competencies of Exceptional Salespeople

Why are sales core competencies important?

Sales core competencies are important because these can help professionals increase their sales. Usually regarded as soft skills, competencies can help as you perform your day-to-day sales tasks. Employers often look for candidates with these traits to help them determine if someone would help their organization succeed. Individuals with these types of competencies can build stronger relationships and be more successful throughout the sales process.

What are sales core competencies?

Sales core competencies are skills that help an individual influence someones buying decisions. These may be traits someone inherently possesses, or ones that they acquire through training. Sales core competencies focus on three main areas:

18 sales core competencies

The following are some sales core competencies for you to consider developing:

1. Communication

Excellent communication skills help sales professionals share information with prospective customers. This includes communicating through email, phone calls and in-person interactions. Sales professionals find engaging ways to convey facts about their products and services.

2. Adaptability

Being adaptable helps sales representatives handle different situations. Those with this trait can find ways to provide consumers with what they want. Flexibility is also helpful for finding ways to persuade customers to buy their products.

3. Willingness to learn

Having a willingness to learn helps sales representatives find new and creative ways to best serve their customers. When interacting with potential consumers, they may ask insightful questions to figure out what challenges the client is facing and how they can help. Sales professionals also analyze their sales process to find ways they can be more efficient and maintain a competitive advantage over others in the marketplace.

4. Customer service

Another core competency for sales professionals to possess is customer service or the ability to support consumers throughout the buying process. Since these individuals have an important role in helping develop a relationship with consumers, its important for them to prioritize the consumers needs. This can lead to more sales conversions and help their organization retain buyers.

5. Upselling

Upselling helps sales representatives find additional products or services to offer their consumers. This involves looking for items that complement products they already offer. Successful sales representatives can suggest add-ons to a customers existing order to help encourage them to purchase more.

6. Negotiation

Negotiation is a helpful trait for sales representatives to have since it allows them to reach a compromise with potential consumers. Sales professionals use this competency to help them get the consumer what they want while still ensuring their company benefits from the transaction. Being able to negotiate a contract can help convert those who have initial hesitancies.

7. Product knowledge

Understanding the product they are selling for their organization can help sales representatives succeed in their job. This can help them when sharing fundamental knowledge about their products with customers, since it allows them to focus on key features. It also helps them explain how their product compares to their competitors products.

8. Strategic problem-solving

Having problem-solving skills helps sales representatives find the best solutions to support their customers. When they keep the consumers needs in their focus, they are able to convert more leads by fulfilling their needs. Problem-solving also helps sales professionals find new ways to sell their items.

9. Results-driven

Sales professionals with a results-driven motivation are able to see what needs to be done to reach their goals. This involves identifying how they can convince a customer to consider buying their items. Their focus is on reaching their overall objectives regardless of circumstances that may arise.

10. Leadership

A competency in leadership helps sales professionals take control of a conversation with prospective consumers. They understand when to let the customer talk and when to share their information. This skill also allows them to decide when to follow up with a customer.

11. Perseverance

Perseverance helps those working in sales to continue pursuing prospective consumers. It may take several meetings with a client before a sales representative closes a deal. Being able to continue reaching out to the consumer can help them eventually create a sale.

12. Ability to build relationships

Sales professionals have the ability to build rapport with potential consumers. They understand how to create an emotional engagement with others to persuade them to consider their products and ideas. This involves helping make consumers feel comfortable and developing a level of trust.

13. Time management

Time management allows sales representatives to stay on track when completing their daily tasks. Having this competency can help keep individuals on task throughout the sales process. Time management also involves planning ahead for future sales, special occasions and other events that may impact their sales.

14. Selling value

Selling value involves the capability to explain the features of a product and how it can solve a consumers problems. This skill helps sales representatives show consumers the benefits of buying their products. They emphasis the investment this product or service can make on the consumers life.

15. Data analysis

Being able to read and interpret data is beneficial for sales representatives, since it helps them measure and improve their performance. Often this includes looking at metrics, such as the total sales by time period or revenue per sale. Understanding how to analyze data can help these professionals make decisions based on past successes.

16. Prospecting

Prospecting is the process of locating new business for an organization. This competency helps sales representatives complete more sales, since it expands their customer base. Sales professionals prospect by researching potential consumers, reaching out to gatekeepers and connecting through a discovery call or email.

17. Active listening

Active listening involves hearing what an individual is saying and identifying key pieces of information so you can understand how to best resolve their problems with your product. Sales representatives that use active listening are better able to provide consumers with what they want. This includes reading body language and nonverbal cues to understand how the consumer feels about certain ideas and products.

18. Change management

Since the marketplace continuously changes, its helpful for sales professionals to be comfortable with change management. They identify and implement changes to help their organization remain competitive. Change management also involves setting a tone for how to handle any organizational changes.


What are sales core competencies?

What Are Sales Competencies? Sales competencies are the skills successful reps use to influence buying decisions. These can include time management, people skills, pipeline management, uncovering pain points, conversational excellence, and more.

What are the core competencies of a sales manager?

These are the 20 core technical skills of sales managers.
  • Ability to coach salespeople. …
  • Ability to motivate salespeople. …
  • Ability to hold salespeople accountable. …
  • Ability to recruit new salespeople. …
  • Pipeline management skills. …
  • Ability to build relationships. …
  • Closing skills. …
  • Sales process skills.

What are the 3 main core competencies?

The 3 Core Competencies
  • Communication.
  • Thinking.
  • Personal and Social.

What are three core skills of a salesperson?

You Probably Need More Friends—Here’s How To Make Them
  • Relating To People. Your prospects need to trust you before they become a customer. …
  • Identifying A Need. Your business exists because it meets customers’ needs. …
  • Instilling Trust.

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