What are the key sales skills of today’s modern seller?
First of all, modern sellers operate from a place of integrity. They are skilled at pinpointing target markets and prospecting for new business.
But the era of the aggressive close is over. Today’s buyer is aware of yesterday’s manipulative selling tactics and prefers to interact with sales professionals that projects credibility -and that is an important sales skill-. These people are adept at determining if their products are a win-win fit for both parties.
The moment a sale is made, relationship-building skills become extremely important. Sales professionals enjoy the sight of a satisfied customer and will do everything in their power to keep them satisfied.
Keep reading and discover how to improve your selling skills in an ultra-competitive market.
The Most Important Skills for Sales Reps
Sales skills are classified as either hard or soft. While hard selling skills, such as product knowledge and performing sales presentations, are vital, soft sales skills like storytelling, knowing when to stop talking, and relationship building sets the expert sales rep apart.
Sales: Hard Skills
These skills are formalized and learned in a structured manner. Perhaps a software salesperson has studied computer science at a university, or an electrical parts salesperson honed his technical ability under an apprenticeship. Hard selling skills are generally role-critical and specialized.
- Product knowledge
- Sales presentations
- Active listening
- Closing skills
- Conflict resolution
- Social selling
Sales: Soft Skills
Soft skills are less technical than hard skills. They refer to people-centric talents learned from the real-world interactions and are garnered over a lifetime of experience in selling and marketing.
In fact, Google discovered that the majority of their success is a result of soft skills. A study of their top-performing teams revealed employees who demonstrated curiosity and empathy on the job. These qualities ranked far higher than engineering and science, the reason being that soft skills such as curiosity and critical thinking lead to innovation, and ultimately, superior customer service.
Soft skills as they relate to selling include:
- Storytelling as method of selling
- Building relationships over time
- Knowing when to stop talking
- Collaboration with customers
- Research and spotting opportunities
- Managing time
What is the Best Way to Learn Soft Skills?
Traditional sales training happens at conferences or in-house training facilities. Usually, delegates receive a workbook that incorporates an Action Plan to set the selling knowledge in motion.
But does it work? Training success depends on the participants’ drive and will to succeed. And it’s a challenging job to monitor someone’s progress once they’ve finished the training, so often their momentum sags.
Virtual sales training is much better. There are numerous online training tools, and these usually include interactive videos that educate sales professionals according to their personality types. In addition, these training platforms use social media and engage learners continuously, making them more mindful about applying their newfound skills to workplace situations as they go along. A comprehensive backend system means that sales managers are easily able to monitor and measure who has progressed.
Of course, salespeople still need to buy into the idea for it to work. Start by informing them that a LinkedIn survey revealed that 59% of hiring managers believe that soft skills are in demand. This means that soft skills are like a secret weapon in employee growth and worth having on their sales resume.
Skills of the Modern Sales Manager
Think of sales management, and the word leadership springs to mind. Someone who can make sound decisions, motivate, and of course, communicate a sales strategy clearly.
Management is the art of doing your job through others, and it incorporates interpersonal skills with an ability to push your team out of their comfort zone as you drive them to work harder.
Effective communication and training is critical, and once your expectations and sales goals are explained, you’ll need to create a culture that clarifies that you care about your sales team.
Leading and coaching a sales team in this remote selling era is challenging for most sales managers, to say the least. You can read our remote selling tools article, and here are some actionable tips on how to coach a remote sales team that any sales manager can start implementing right away.
The Sales Skills Every Seller Needs Click To Tweet
Can Sales Skills be Learned?
As we’ve already mentioned, you can learn selling skills the old fashioned way, like at training seminars or during formal in-house training sessions.
Or you can go it alone with one of the many sales and marketing books available.
But it’s when these methods are combined with the power of technology and social media that a great salesperson is made. Modern sales software can provide that daily nudge that might be needed, especially when the idea of picking up the phone to make that cold call has killed all motivation.
Develop a Sales Skills Training Program
A good sales training program needs to be ongoing for it to work. And it requires a dedicated sales manager or trainer to drive it.
As a guide, look to focus on critical areas, such as:
- Building pipeline
- Social selling
- Video for sales
- Qualifying the right buyer
- Questions that uncover customer needs and pain points
- Practicing the sales pitch
- How to subtly overcome objections
- Closing strategies
- Following up
- How to ask for business referrals
Often, a short, punchy motivation session will add value. Tap into a sales person success story. How did they do it? What can be learned from them?
Other times, you might want to focus on a new product that’s come out. The main thing is to keep training structured and continuous.
Watch the video below to learn the difference between ineffective sales training and training that changes behavior and brings results.
Sales managers need to read this article by @M_3Jr about modern selling skills! The article shares a guide on how #sales leaders can train their team to be successful modern sellers. #salesenablement Click To Tweet
Assess Your Team’s Sales Skills
A sales manager can massively improve the sales performance of the team by using an assessment sheet when training. This might occur monthly or quarterly and gives the sales rep relevant feedback to help them improve their sales success. It helps to be specific and to measure your sales representative against the team average.
Your assessment sheet might look like this and include a mark out of five for each segment:
- Product knowledge
- Competitor’s business
- Company strategy and sales process
- Sales skills
- Communication skills
- Ability to translate features to benefits
- Ability to identify potential customer needs
- Presentation skills
- Objection handling during the sales process
- Customer service
- Following up
- Handling conflict during selling
- Looking for new business marketing opportunities
Create a matrix and update it continuously to boost your sales career. Your team will love you for your honesty, while your bosses will appreciate the boom in sales.
Start Developing Your Digital Selling Skills Today
Now more than ever, the growth of digital selling skills is one of the best returns on the investment of time it takes to grow as a seller.
I invite you to listen to the podcast episode below to learn the 4 digital selling skills of the modern seller and how to achieve them.
If you want to develop your own skills or those of your team in order to improve their sales techniques, and give them everything they need to be successful -a process known as Sales Enablement-, you don’t have to do it alone. We are here to help. Check out our on-demand training program, Modern Sales Mastery for Individuals, by clicking the image below.