In the sales industry, prospecting means developing and maintaining good relationships with returning and potential customers. It is about customer service, being personable, and about persistently curating a relationship that promotes brand loyalty. More traditionally, it is about generating leads and following up on them.
But mostly, prospecting is about curating positive relationships between the brand and the customer. The salesperson wants to come off as on the customer's team, a fixer, and a problem solver. To fill this role requires the following salesperson skills.
Language skills are critical. The ability to quickly understand the customer despite accents, unusual demeanor, peculiar questions, and so on is critical.
The sales professional must know everything about the product or service being sold, the way it is used, and the legalities surrounding its sale, use, and transport.
The salesperson must be sharp, knowledgeable, and yet come off in an approachable way, use simple language, and speak quickly and clearly.
Written and verbal communication skills are important to create meaningful relationships with customers. Building relationships with clients is no easy feat, an effective salesperson will be able to connect with potential buyers and existing customers to establish long-term relationships.
Active listening, another important sales skill we discuss more below, is a mutually beneficial skill that will help you create an effective communication cycle better in any sales job.
Willingness to learn
Strong sales communication will not manifest if the salesperson is unable or unwilling to learn. You must learn about the product, new products. You must learn the regulations affecting the product and its use.
Successful salespeople are able and willing to learn the needs and perspectives of different types of customers. New information should be greeted with openness, not a sigh.
A strong sales professional will have a robust understanding of how commerce, business, and trade work. They will have a deep understanding of the meaning of value and know the difference between inherent and perceived value.
Most importantly, they must be able to perceive the customer's true motivation. Does he want to draw glances in a shiny new car? Does he want to outperform his neighbor on the outdoor BBQ grill? Is he looking to raise the value of his home, and if so, for what reason?
People want money, not because they like money, but because they crave freedom, attention, or power. Seeing through business motivation to human motivation is the heart of good business sense.
Active listener and negotiator
A good salesperson will listen actively and negotiate effectively. This may come naturally to some, but training and practice in active listening will help anyone improve.
Being a good listener will go a long way in any social situation, and active listening is a valuable skill.
The ability to memorize talking points, follow a predetermined flow, and present evidence and points at the right time and in the right order will give you a huge advantage. Know your subject, and know what gets their attention, and you will be well on your way. This is just as important to do in person as it is for increasing online sales.
While the sales pitch might be difficult to do online, this skill as well as proficiency in public speaking can help you, for example, explain market trends and sales goals to a potential customer and build their confidence in your extensive product knowledge and company.
Can handle rejection
Lions fail to catch their prey at least 90% of the time, and the sales professional will face a lot of rejection. You must be able to take it, not take it personally, and persist without hurt feelings.
This is an important skill to have because it is unlikely a salesperson will be able to go their entire sales career without ever being shut down. You need to be able to roll with the punches and move on to other sales presentations and prospective customers.
To drive sales year-round, salespeople need behind-the-scenes skills, and sales teams developing strategies need them too. It's possible to be a valuable sales professional and never talk to a customer. To do so takes the following skills and traits.