Because of movies like The Wolf of Wall Street, people now think they have an idea of what being a good salesperson involves: sell hard, get in their face, and be a bit crazy!
But actually, the sales landscape has changed. It is no longer possible to ram an idea or product down someone’s throat, as people are growing more informed before they make a decision to purchase. The sales process is just as much about nurturing the customer and making them feel important.
Every person in every role would benefit from having sales knowledge – not a day goes by where you won’t use skills developed in sales. As a wise man once said, ‘job titles don’t matter. Everyone is in sales. It’s the only way we stay in business.’
With that in mind, what skills will you need to develop when starting your first role?
If you think of communication skills, you will often think of speaking first. But the best salespeople will tell you that listening is even more important than speaking. Those that are all mouth and no ears will have real difficulty getting to grips with the needs or personality of their potential customer, which is a massive factor when trying to negotiate.
Written communication skills are also essential, because these days, just as much of the sales process is completed through email, and even social media.
We mean this in more ways than one. You should be able to adapt to new technology, to new training, but also adapt to each customer. For example, you will need to approach Marjorie, grandmother of 3, in a different way to Bill the construction worker.
With experience, you will be able to get a feel of whether you can crack a joke, or keep the conversation strictly professional. Your increasing ability to think on your feet and mirror the customer will make you both likeable and relatable – a life skill anyone would benefit from.
Employers are looking for someone who can settle in quickly, and adapt to learn the ins and outs of what they’re selling. In the early stages of your role, don’t be afraid to politely ask the customer if you can put them on hold while you look up vital information – the more valuable information you can give them, the better.
By applying yourself and being patient, you will build an effective understanding of the product or service you’re selling, which will also help you understand when to offer a special deal during negotiations.
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Salespeople need to show persistence (and we don’t mean nagging the same customer’s ear off all day every day!). This means being able to bounce back from rejection, and maintaining your same positive energy with the next potential customer.
For every sale you miss because you’re too enthusiastic, you will miss a hundred because you’re not enthusiastic enough. So don’t let negativity drive you down – your resilience will result in confidence which will rub off on the customer.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that organisation is one of the most common traits that employers look out for any role. While that’s mostly true, a salesperson will need to be aware of their ‘sales pipeline’ – in other words, how close sales prospects are to making a purchase or reaching a quota.
This means you will need to be highly organised to plan who needs to be contacted, when, and whether they’ve recently been in touch. Being organised and prioritising certain tasks and customers will help you smash targets, and put you in line for sales bonuses!
Without going overboard, being tenacious and energetic on the phone is important to add value to your customer. No salesperson can ever be successful if they sound like they’re still in bed.
A dynamic energy will not only help you close sales, but if you’re on an apprenticeship, it will help you close in to that full time position.