Sales skills mastery starts by getting to its core. What is sales really about? Is it just a scoreboard of your career achievements and goals? Is it about performance metrics and sales quotas? Or, do we need to shift our focus and look at it from the customer’s perspective?
The gist of our top six sales skills is that the true masters of sales have an eye out for their customers, not their numbers or performance metrics. And, while these tangible measures of achievement come secondary, they always follow.
Mark Heinz, president of Heinz Marketing, says it best: “Customer point of view. Always. Filter everything you’re doing, saying and pitching through that and you’ll improve just about every metric you care about today.”
Top Sales Skills 1: Listening Skill
“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.”
– Roy T. Bennett, from his book The Light in the Heart.
It is important to remember that the sales process is not about you. It’s not about your quotas and commissions. If you make it about that, then you bring an agenda to the table – an agenda that is not in the best interest of your prospects.
So, instead, listen to them sincerely. Get to know their pain points, concerns and needs. Then, if what you’re offering aligns with their needs, present a solution.
Top Sales Skills 2: Ethical Sales Skill
The ideal customer is someone who made an educated decision in choosing you over your competitors. They know your product; and will likely stand by their decision and remain loyal.
Ethical sales means presenting your product truthfully. You are there not really to convince the prospect – you’re there to share. Present and explain what you offer with integrity. This means not glossing over flaws and issues, and not exaggerating your product’s merits.
Remember what Dale Carnegie said in his book How To Win Friends and Influence People: “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”
So, provide all the information your prospect needs to make an informed decision. Strive towards beginning a truthful win-win business relationship.
Top Sales Skills 3: Question Asking Skill
Again, remember that sales isn’t about what you want. It is about what your prospects need. And, the best way to know about these needs is by asking. Be inquisitive. Know what they require and expect from what you offer. Look at your product from their point of view. Be sincere in your presentation, and responsive to their concerns.
Top Sales Skills 4: Product Knowledge
A salesperson who lacks product knowledge is an ineffective one. They are unable to present the product thoroughly. They won’t be able to answer your prospect’s queries satisfactorily.
When you’re putting together a sales team, make sure they go through extensive product training first. They should master these basics:
- how your product works
- your product’s business value
- how it integrates with your prospect’s current technologies
In the same way, they should be able to do a thorough demo. This is particularly important for B2B companies, where system integration and application are crucial to business operations. Product demos are effective ways of showing off what your product can do. It goes above words and shows your product’s features in action.
Top Sales Skills 5: Objection Handling
No matter how best-fit your product is to your prospect needs, you may still run into objections. This is natural. You just have to be prepared for it. The key is to communicate empathy.
According to self-development speaker and author Brian Tracy: “Treat objects as requests for further information.”
Let your prospects know that you sincerely understand their needs and objections. Ask them to explain further. Clarify yourself – how you explained your product – and then reiterate how it can address their requirements.
Top Sales Skills 6: Post-Sale Relationship Management
We’ve repeated this quote from sales training coach Patricia Fripp, time and again: “To build a long-term, successful enterprise, when you don’t close a sale, open a relationship.”
Keep this in mind even when you’ve sealed deals and closed sales. This isn’t the end. You are starting a business relationship with your clients. You might not be their main point person once they become clients. But, you need to be present. Check in on them regularly. Get to know if there’s anything else you can help them with.
Not only is this a great way of soliciting referrals and learning of up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. It also nurtures your business relationship.
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