“Sell me this pen…” has become the battle cry of marketing teams in small businesses everywhere. The very existence of the mantra feeds the continuous need to break sales down to its most essential parts and put it back together again.Â
Therefore, selling the pen is not actually about “selling” the pen, but more so about discovering why a prospect would need a pen in the first place, confirming the need, and then providing the solution. Sellers want to hear expertise, not salesmanship; they want you to listen – they dont care about what you have to offer unless it benefits them; they want to listen to the benefits and less about the features (although form and function add value as well).â
The 3 Most Important Skills In Sales
What are sales skills?
Sales skills are the abilities that enable you to perform successful sales interactions. These skills cover a variety of areas, such as communication. When you can effectively communicate, you can attract potential customers, build lasting relationships and perform necessary negotiations to close the deal. Other skills may be more technical, such as your knowledge about the offerings you sell. As you develop your abilities, you can continue to grow your sales and advance your career.
18 ways to improve sales skills
You can use the following tips and techniques as guidance on how to improve your sales skills:
Set goals for yourself
Determine which areas you would like to improve, then set specific and achievable goals. These goals may be behavioral, such as improving particular skills, or results-based, such as making a certain number of sales per month. For example, if you want to improve your sales calls, you may aim to make more calls per day to gain practice. Once you set goals, monitor your progress and measure the results. Successes can motivate you to keep developing your skillset. If you do not see improvements, it can demonstrate the need to adjust your goals or how you go about achieving them.
Take advantage of training opportunities
To improve your skills, commit to taking training opportunities in whatever form they arise. You may find chances to take courses or training sessions through your employer. These generally help boost basic sales skills and enable you to gain feedback. You also need to take time during the day for independent training — whether it involves reading a book on sales skills, watching a seminar or working with a private coach. Participating in regular development opportunities keeps your skills sharp, which ensures you feel prepared for sales interactions.
Practice public speaking
Conduct research regularly
Consistent research helps you keep up with industry trends and changes. You can subscribe to or follow industry publications and attend industry seminars and conferences. When you have relevant knowledge and share it with colleagues and customers, they see you as an expert that they can trust and come to for advice or recommendations. It can also enable you to predict customer questions, allowing you to prepare answers that satisfy their concerns. Another aspect of your research should be trends related to sales skills — you want to ensure you are using the most effective tools and techniques.
Develop listening skills
When you build rapport, you develop strong customer connections that ensure everyone feels understood and supported. Treat them as you would treat a friend, which makes them feel like a valued relationship. Before meetings, research customers to understand who they are and their needs. You can then ask them questions related to your research, which demonstrates your genuine interest. It also showcases your commitment to providing a personalized experience. As you continue the relationship, show interest in their personal and professional lives. For example, ask how their family is doing or reach out about recent achievements.
Think from your customers perspective
Empathy is key to sales as an effective sale considers the needs of the customer. Therefore, you must bring a sense of understanding to each step of the process, from prospecting to closing. Research the customers company and industry to better understand their perspective. As you prepare for conversations and develop your pitch, evaluate it as if you were the customer. Ask yourself what would make you want to buy the product. One way to convince your customers is to identify their challenges, then explain how the product solves them.
Boost your presentations
Rather than take a one-size-fits-all approach, take the effort to create customized presentations aligned with each clients needs. You must demonstrate how your product will benefit their lives or business — whenever possible, use data as evidence. Other techniques include using engaging visual aids, such as videos or charts, and organizing your presentation into a narrative that establishes a connection with your audience and provides context. If you need help, you may be able to work with your organizations marketing department to collaborate on exciting and persuasive promotional materials to bring along.
Develop prospecting strategies
Practice closing techniques
Closing the deal is a crucial part of your sales process, so you must study and practice its various techniques. Gaining a comprehensive understanding of all the closing methods can enable you to make decisions on which is right for each interaction you have. As you practice these methods, you gain confidence in your ability to use them. Examples of closing techniques include:
Prepare for handling objections
Throughout your sales interactions, you likely will face objections at some point, so you must prepare to handle them effectively. Before your interactions, prepare a list of possible issues the customer may raise and draft responses for each one. Having answers ready not only shows your preparation for the conversation but also demonstrates your knowledge. You can also include qualifying questions to help you gain more context into your customers specific concerns.
Be mindful of your attitude
Attitude can significantly impact your sales interactions — so make sure to have a positive and confident demeanor. Show enthusiasm for your product and service and how it can help the customer, as your excitement can be contagious and persuasive. Customers gain trust when you seem confident rather than unsure about what you are saying. Sales interactions can also be unpredictable, so practice maintaining calm in case tensions arise. You want to present a professional image to maintain a positive relationship with customers.
Understand your product
When you believe in what you sell, it creates a more credible sales experience. To do this, you must understand all aspects of your product so you can sell it from any angle and identify what makes it attractive to each customer. Also, you must recognize when the product does not meet expectations. For example, it may not provide all the features sought by a customer. Admit why those are unavailable or what your company is doing to resolve that issue. Customers would prefer to learn about potential problems early, so they can potentially find ways to work around them.
Boost your time management abilities
Learn techniques for prioritizing your responsibilities, which keeps you productive and ensures you do not miss anything. For example, you can draft a daily to-do list, prioritize the items by importance, then focus on finishing the most important tasks first. You can also use resources to manage your time and create work processes. These processes can improve efficiency, allowing you to take less time doing routine tasks and instead focus on more significant responsibilities or development opportunities. For example, you may have the ability to automate or build templates for some tasks, such as sales emails that you send regularly.
Try out new methods
You likely have a routine sales process you feel comfortable using. However, stepping out of your comfort zone and making adjustments can boost your skills. You do not have to change the steps, just how you perform them. It can also make work more exciting as you look for new ways to perform regular responsibilities. For example, the first step in your process may be prospecting — learn about the different methods for making prospecting calls. Start implementing those methods into your process and assess the results. When you find something that works, make it a regular habit.
Work with a mentor
Find an experienced mentor whose example you can follow. Beyond watching and copying what they do, talk to them to gain insights into their success. Set up meetings to discuss techniques they use, the advice they have or practice sales situations. While working closely with this person, ask for feedback on your strengths and weaknesses. They can also help you set goals and hold you accountable for them. Building a mentorship relationship also expands your network and may provide advancement opportunities or other professional benefits.
Practice what you learn
Once you understand the methods for sales skills development, implement them into your personal and professional lives. Practice can be a concentrated effort, such as practicing in front of a mirror or with a colleague. But you also can use these skills in private interactions. For example, use active listening to conversations with friends. There, you can practice in a less stressful setting and assess how the technique impacts conversations. Regular practice ensures you feel comfortable using these techniques and thus gain confidence in your abilities.
Seek feedback from others
As you work on improving sales skills, seek opportunities for feedback from trusted colleagues or friends. They can offer an objective view of your strengths and weaknesses. For example, when a colleague or supervisor joins you on a sales interaction, ask them to evaluate your performance. You can also hold mock sales interactions with colleagues to practice your skills or techniques. Some companies even offer opportunities to record sales interactions and then review them for feedback.
How can I improve my salesman skills?
- No. 1: Understand what the buyer wants. …
- No. 2: Sell in a buyer-responsive manner. …
- No. 3: Use psychology to engage the buyer. …
- No. 4: Establish trust with the buyer. …
- No. 5: Communicate succinctly. …
- No. 6: Act on what the customer is saying. …
- No. 7: Demonstrate subject matter expertise. …
- No. 8: Help (as opposed to close) prospects.
What is the most important skill in sales?
- Confidence – maintaining a positive attitude.
- Resilience – communicating with conviction.
- Active listening – understanding the customers’ needs.
- Rapport building – selling your personality.
- Entrepreneurial spirit – continual self-improvement.
What are the 3 most important things in sales?
- S – Sincerity – Listen without an agenda, it’s not about your needs.
- E – Ethics – Don’t try to talk someone into something, listen to what they want.
- A – Asking – Serve others by asking questions that will assist them in making a wise buying decision.
How can a beginner improve sales?
- Think About Who You Should Be Selling to.
- Don’t Think About Your Goals – Think About Your Customer’s Goals.
- Sell Value, Not Specs.
- Don’t Take Rejection Personally.
- Honesty Is the Best Policy.
- Research Is Key.
- Personalize Everything.
- Practice Your Small Talk – and Write a Script.