The Skills Needed To Excel in Sales (Even if You’re Not a Salesperson)

The Skills Needed To Excel in Sales (Even if You're Not a Salesperson)

I’m not a salesperson, but I can sell when I need to. You don’t need to be a salesperson by trade to be good at sales.

Sure, just like anything else, if you do sales on a daily basis you’ll likely become a better salesperson. But that’s not a silver bullet. Selling requires a certain set of skills, some of which are inherently engrained into a person, and others which must be learned.

As I began thinking about these skills, I started poking around the rest of the web to see what others thought. As I did that, I ran across an amazing Quora thread on the topic that did a much better job of distilling it down than I ever could. So, I’ve taken that list and distilled it down to both what I believe is needed to be a excel in sales, as well as the best responses on the thread.

If you’re looking to excel in your sales career or simply looking to pick up the skills to get by, here’s what you need to know how to do:

Sales Skills

  • Resiliency – Sales is filled with rejection, and the better sales person is able to bounce back more quickly, and keep positive.  A good sales person has to learn to deal with “no” at all stages of the sale.  You call someone, they hang up.  You ask them to buy, they say no.  They say they are going to buy, they don’t pay!  
  • Resourcefulness – The more deals you have active, the higher your chances for success.  Try to have a diversified client base, and do not rely on a unicorn deal to save you.  The more you know all of the aspects in #2, the better.  Sales is a people business, and people can surprise you.  Sales you think will come through, won’t.  Make sure you have enough deals in the wings to back-fill, and you’ll be surprised at some of the deals you snag.
  • Listening – Effectively taking in who your customers are and what they need and what they want.  You can win a sale on a need, you can win a sale on a want, but ideal sales situations come from understanding both the need and the wants, because they are often different things, and knowing both can substantially grow a sale.
  • Values – A good sales person wants to generate value. She’s not just in it for a quick buck. Or for her ego. She knows that her strength is her fearless attitude toward getting things done and closing deals for her company. She wants to use that power for good and for something she beliefs in.
  • Strong Follow up – This is a big one: A good sales person knows that life is all about the follow up. If showing up is 50% of success – the other half is about being the one person that actually follows up until she gets the job done.
  • Multitasking – If you aren’t able to juggle multiple things, you probably don’t want to be in sales.  Between forecasting, prospecting, pitching, closing and follow up, it’s definitely a busy life.  And, if you are putting all of your eggs in one opportunity basket, you are going to be ripe for disappointment.  A successful sales person is able to juggling multiple opportunity and hedge their bets across them in order to make their numbers.
  • Product Knowledge – Know your product/service inside and out. Know its past, present and future. Know which clients use which versions of your product/service. Know what improvements are in the pipeline. Know how it compares to your competitors, objectively.
  • Ability to uncover needs – A need is not a want. We want a mobile phone, but the mobile phone that we ultimately choose will be linked directly to our need/s. For many iPhone users, their need is to ‘belong’ or make interconnection between other devices ‘easy’. Needs are subjective, feelings. We walk into 7 Eleven to buy a bottle of water. The want is ‘water’ (objective). The need could be ‘thirst’, ‘to cool down’, ‘to aid in taking medicine’, or even ‘to clean a shirt stain’. Great salespeople have a list of possible client needs and then use deduction during the sales meeting.

Of course, you don’t need all of these skills to be able to sell, but the more you have the better off you’ll be. Take these and combine them with the tactics mentioned in our beginner’s guide to sales, and you’ll be in a great spot.

Have something that you think is important to be excel in sales, drop it in the comments!

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