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Upgrade Your Sales Skills

Some products and services do, as they say, sell themselves. But when innovation delivers a product that buyers are not familiar with, when a new variation on an old theme is on offer, and when new ideas require a unique sales angle, sales professionals have their work cut out for them.

As the proprietor of a small to medium-sized business, you have the advantage of being passionate about what you sell. After all, it means the difference between success and failure.

But being great at sales takes a special kind of person. Not all of us have keen business savvy, and even fewer have the kind of mentality and energy level that a great sales representative needs.

As a business owner, you probably have more business savvy than most. But if you lack the extroverted personality type and don't have the persistent mindset of a true sales professional, then you have got your work cut out for you. The good news is that you can still learn to be better at sales.

If you are an introverted philosophical type, greatness in sales is probably not in the cards for you. But you can still get better, and you can leverage top-notch sales tools and hire natural sales talent. Here, we are going to cover the ways you can improve your sales skills and how to spot sales talent.

What makes a good salesperson?

Being a great salesperson takes an outgoing personality, good business sense, and the ability to deal with, understand and communicate with people effectively. It also takes a thick skin. If you take rejection to heart, the sales business will wear you down quickly. Just as a good boxer can take a hit, a good sales professional can take rejection. More than anything else, a natural salesperson will be long in the following skills for sales:

Skills of a successful salesperson

Enthusiasm

In sales, energy and positivity are everything. You've got to be optimistic and enthusiastic about what you are selling. Even if you are a quiet, thoughtful, and introverted type, if you believe in and love the product or service you are selling, that might be enough to carry you through. In the long term, intellectual enthusiasm alone won't be enough. But it could hold you over long enough to give you time to build a sales team with the talent to keep it up for the long term.

Resilience

Sports analogies often come up when we talk about sales. This is because, while it may not be a contact sport, it does take a very visceral type of energy that is necessarily limited. Even if your job is developing sales landing pages, you need to be able to take criticism. It's a kind of energy we all have, but some much more than others.

You need to be able to take rejection on the chin, and you need to be able to say the same lines over and over with the professionalism of a stage actor. For an introvert, this kind of repetition is very difficult to sustain. But with the right mental outlook, anyone could do it, at least for a while. Perhaps most important, you need to be professional and do the job when you don't feel well or when issues outside the job sap your attention and mental energy.

Adaptive

As a salesperson, details about the product or service you are selling may change. Prices may change, and regulations controlling the industry might change. Further, every customer will be different. They will have different levels of tolerance for sales pitches and will have different deal makers and deal breakers. You have to be able to adapt to these changes and change your spiel when facts about what you sell change.

But most importantly, you need to be able to recognize, deal with, and adapt to different personality types. Doing effective behavioral targeting requires you to be supremely adaptive in the way you approach people, both online and in person.

Strong work ethic & ambition

We've talked about mental and visceral energy. To do person-to-person sales on a showroom floor, you need to get your sleep, use caffeine strategically, and be dedicated to your work. A strong desire to make money and serve the company is important. Having a competitive streak is a big plus in this line of work. Naturally, it will help to be a morning person, to have a strong work ethic, and be motivated to act and think like a man or woman of the company.

If much of what we have talked about so far is absent from your personality or brain type, then hiring sales professionals who have these traits will be necessary and should occupy a high place on your list of priorities.

13 of the most important sales skills

Up to this point, what we have been talking about has to do with facing the potential buyer face to face. This is the form that the traditional job of the salesperson takes, the master of the showroom floor.

With the possible exception of door-to-door sales, this is the most demanding form sales work takes. When we think of a salesperson, this is what comes to mind. Above, we talked about talents a salesperson should have. The following are skills, including some soft sales skills, a salesperson who works directly with the customer should possess.

Client-facing sales skills

The top client-facing sales skills

Prospecting

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.

Strong communication

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.

Business savvy

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.

Presentation skills

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.

Behind-the-scenes skills

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.

The general skills for a salesperson:

Technology proficient

Know the tech you use, information technology most of all. You have got to be efficient and effective at drafting sales emails and other forms of digital customer outreach.

Goal-oriented

Being on point on the sales floor takes preparation, discipline, time management, and forward thinking.

Collaborative

Good salespeople know they are part of a team. You've got to be able and willing to collaborate and take the lead when needed.

Selling referrals

Good referrals are hard to come by. When you get handed quality referrals, you owe it to the person who developed them to make the most of them.

Ability to navigate conflict

Good salespeople have thick skins. You have to be able to handle disagreement without becoming angry and find creative solutions to issues. Conflict is natural and inevitable, but hostility has no place in a professional setting.

Unleash your sales potential

The good news is that sales professionals have more help than ever. Technology and sales support professionals like our team here at Mailchimp have the tools and expertise to make your job easier.

Our tools will help you develop quality leads, target your optimal audience, and boost your bottom line. Get in touch to learn more about how you can create relevant content and increase your customer success.

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