Sweet-Talker: 5 Skills Necessary to Succeed in Sales

Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to be a salesperson? Read on to discover how you stack up against these five essential salesperson skills.

Organization Skills

address book

Image via Flickr by palo

There are three key organization skills salespeople need: goal-setting, knowing how to prioritize, and knowing how and when to delegate.

When you set goals for yourself, you're plotting out a roadmap for success. For goal-setting to be effective, it needs to have a definable time limit and, most importantly, needs to be realistic. It does you no good to set a goal to sell 5,000 vacuum cleaners in two weeks, but setting one to sell 50 in the next month is doable.

The second organization skill goes hand in hand with the first, and that is prioritization. When you look at your goal, you quickly realize that some tasks are more important than others. You may need to complete some tasks first, such as generating new leads and contacting your best customers, before you can increase your sales.

The final organization skill is delegation, and knowing when to do it. Most people have a problem with delegating because it's hard to relinquish control of their work. However, the truth is that you can reach your goals quicker if you let other people manage some of the load. One way to delegate is to give other team-members responsibility for tasks that you dislike, or that you aren't that good at. To be a super sales person you need several of these strong personality traits

Writing Skills

Since much of a sales person's communication with clients occurs over emails, and since some lead generation tactics happen over the Internet, such as article marketing, writing skills are essential. For salespeople, the two most important elements in writing well are learning to write concisely and with proper grammar.

One way to learn concise writing is to follow AP style. Although it is most frequently used in news writing, it has value for all types of writing. Since it's based around the principles of consistency, clarity, accuracy, and brevity, even if you follow it loosely, your writing will become more dynamic and concise.

Grammar is another important tool in writing well. Sending out an email or submitting an article full of grammar gaffes and typos won't impress prospective buyers. In fact, it can cost you sales. One study of real estate listings showed that those with the most grammatical errors and typos took the longest to sell, and when they did, they went for only 5.6 percent above the asking price. While following AP style will help you with this as well, it's worth spending some time taking a refresher course in grammar, especially if you've been out of school for a while. 

Listening Skills

Learning to listen better will not only help you become a better salesperson, it will help you in your other relationships, too. Research on how well people listen reveals that most of us are rather dismal at it. Apparently, people remember just 25 to 50 percent of what they hear. That's across all relationships, from business to personal.

One effective technique for improving your listening skills is to practice active listening. When you are actively listening to someone else, you're focused on him or her. You aren't checking your phone for email messages, or texting with another client. All of your attention is devoted to hearing what the other person has to say.

Try this the next time you're talking to a colleague or a customer: Focus your attention on him or her. Maintain eye contact and just listen to what he or she is telling you. When he or she is done, repeat a summarized form of what he or she said back, and ask the person if it's accurate. In this way, the other person knows that you heard him or her and that you understand.

Presentation Skills

Knowing how to put on an effective presentation is still a critical part of a salesperson's arsenal. Although teleconferences may be replacing in-person sales meetings, a salesperson must know how to present his or her product in an appealing way.

Preparation and practice are the key factors in delivering a stellar presentation. The first thing you need to do is to get information about your audience. Are you presenting the latest business software package to a group of 50-something CEOs or is your audience a team of Millennial system administrators? Knowing who you're addressing will let you tailor your message so that it resonates with them.

Once you know who you're pitching, then you can practice your delivery. Record a video of yourself doing the presentation and watch it. Seeing yourself speak will help you notice any weak areas. Do you pause a lot? How many times do you hesitate or say "ah" or "um"? If you don't want to record yourself, have a friend listen to your talk and then ask them to critique it. You'll find endless benefits to improving your presentation skills.  

Handling Objections

Salespeople run into objections every day. It's going to happen to you and it's going to happen a lot. Don't worry about preventing them: you can't do it. Instead, focus on improving how you deal with them.

Start by cataloguing a list of common objections and offer a counter to each one. It's not necessary that you memorize this list; simply keep it in mind for your next sales meeting.

Finally, when someone objects to your proposal, use your active listening skills to show him or her that you heard them and that you empathize. Repeat the person's objection back and ask him or her if you have it right. Finally, ask if it's okay to give some options that might work out better for the person.

Sales is really about finding out what your customers need to solve their problems and giving it to them. It seems so simple, yet it isn't for many people. The skills listed here are the key to making it happen.

Contributed to jobs.net by Kim Evans



blog comments powered by Disqus