Sales representatives are often thought of as natural-born salespeople. They’re the ones who can talk to anyone and sell them anything. But what separates the best sales representatives from the rest is not just their ability to sell, but also their soft skills. What exactly are soft skills for sales reps?
Soft skills are those personal attributes that enable you to interact effectively with other people. They include things like communication, empathy, problem-solving, and time management. And while they may seem like second nature to some people, for others they can be difficult to master.
If you’re looking to expand your sales team, then these soft skills for sales reps should be a priority.
What Are Soft Skills for Sales?
Soft skills refer to interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies that enable a person to relate to others.
These skills are crucial for success in any sales role.
What separates the top sales professionals from everyone else?
It’s not necessarily their skill in using a CRM system or the number of emails that are sent. Those skills do help, but they’re not the deciding factor in closing a deal.
Sales reps who meet their quotas month after month have a few things in common — soft skills.
Soft skills are beneficial for building relationships, engaging in productive conversations, and providing an exceptional customer experience.
Soft skills aren’t usually taught in a formal training setting, so how do you develop them?
Through practice and exposure.
To turn your fixed mindset into a growth-minded one, change your perception of failures. Don’t think of them as something negative, but rather as opportunities to learn.
When you’re not afraid to screw up, you’ll have the bandwidth to bounce back and try again. You can also learn from your mistakes and become a better salesperson as a result. So don’t be afraid to take risks and experiment in your sales process.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should be okay with failure. If you’re making the same mistake three or more times, take a close look at what you’re doing wrong.
If you want to improve your skill set, try using the word “yet.”
Psychologist Carol Dweck says that this word can help boost confidence and motivation.
If you find yourself thinking, “I haven’t been able to meet 120% of my quota in a month,” try reframing your thoughts to “I haven’t been able to meet 120% of my quota in a month … yet.”
This simple change can boost your confidence and help you stay motivated.
Take five minutes every day to reflect on your successes and where you could improve. This will help you stay focused and motivated while also keeping track of your progress.
Highly-coachable sales reps are constantly evaluating their own performance and looking for ways to improve their weaknesses.
One of the most important aspects of being adaptable is having the ability to take feedback from your manager, trainer, or mentor in stride. It’s important to be open-minded and willing to follow their suggestions, even if you don’t agree with them.
If their advice works, great! If not, you can always stop doing it.
No matter the outcome, it will be a good one.
Make sure to keep your manager in the loop – it’ll be much easier for them to gauge your progress and give you useful feedback that way.
If you want to be more empathetic towards others, try picturing yourself in their shoes. This will help you understand and feel what they are going through.
The next time you start working with a prospect, take a couple of seconds to imagine yourself in their shoes.
Other ways to increase your empathetic skills can include talking to people you don’t know, meditation, and actively listening to others.
And to make it clear that you’re there to support your prospects, try saying things like: “I hear what you’re saying” and “That’s a tough situation”.
Listen to or watch a recording of yourself. You will inevitably notice that you misspeak or say things that confuse people during actual conversations.
Make a note of the issue after each interaction so you can avoid it in the future.
It’s important to review your sales conversations to get a better understanding of how your prospects are reacting.
For example, you may find that your method of handling objections is effective at the moment, but the same objections come up again during future calls. This can help you identify weak spots in your communication methods so that you can make adjustments accordingly.
What you thought was a clever counterpoint didn’t quite come across as intended. By taking the time to identify where your communication methods may be falling short, you can make the necessary adjustments.
Most people are uncomfortable admitting when they don’t know anything about a subject. Instead, they pretend they do, or they try to change the topic. The best thing to do is just say, “I don’t know”.
Concerned that a prospect might lose trust in you? Say: “But I’ll get back to you,” or “I promise to look into that.” (And then make sure you do.).
When something goes wrong, it’s important to take responsibility for your mistakes and not shift the blame to other people or external factors. This shows humility and can help build trust with the person you’re speaking with.
Instead of making excuses, own up to your mistake.
Emotional intelligence requires paying close attention to your feelings and emotions.
Why do I suddenly feel this negative feeling? Have I experienced this before, and was there a common cause?
Once you achieve self-awareness, you’ll be able to regulate your mental state and reactions.
You’ll need to be attuned to the emotions of those around you. This can be challenging, as most people don’t reveal all — or even most — of what they’re thinking and feeling.
These tips will help you:
- “How would I describe this person’s mood?”
- “Does their mood match the situation?”
- “Do their words contradict their apparent mood?”
This exercise will help you understand how to respond to a prospect who seems on edge.
If the customer is in a good mood, ask them if there’s something on their mind.
If you’re in the final stages of the selling process, request an introduction you need.
The more you get used to being rejected, the easier it will be for you to move on and reach out to your next prospect.
As a salesperson, it’s important to remember that every call could be your next closed-won deal. This means that you should always present yourself, your company, and your product in the best possible light to every prospect. By doing this, you increase the chances of making a sale and furthering your career.
Soft Skills Are Not Just For Sales Representatives
While it’s easy to see how reps need these soft skills, every member of the organization can benefit from them. Take the example of a customer success rep, who not only needs to be good at their job but also be great at managing their team.
At most companies, customer success managers take over the account after a sale is made. They onboard new customers, monitor usage, spearhead renewals, and manage account expansion.
Customer Success Managers, as the bridge between consumers and service providers, have to develop a relationship of trust with their customers.
If you want your partnerships to grow and prosper, you need to be able to communicate effectively, collaborate frequently, and empathize with your partners.
Sales representatives are not the only ones who benefit from having strong soft skills.
In fact, some of the fastest-growing roles in the United States are based largely on soft skills, such as sales development, customer success, and customer experience. Therefore, it is clear that developing strong soft skills can be beneficial for anyone looking to further their career.
According to a LinkedIn report, two of the top seven focus areas for talent developers are to identify and assess skills gaps and train for soft skills.
This comes on the heels of the 2018 LinkedIn learning report that revealed soft skill training was a top priority for executives.
When time is the biggest challenge to developing soft skills, what is the best way for an organization to facilitate this?
Measuring Soft Skills in Sales
When thinking about soft skill training, many sales managers are stuck wondering how they can track it – what methods are effective and what isn’t.
It can be difficult to accurately measure someone’s level of empathy, curiosity, confidence, self-control, relationship building, or emotional intelligence. However, these skills are important for sales professionals to possess.
In the past, there hasn’t been any standard way to measure a salesperson’s communication or sales skills.
You can rely on some tools to help you improve an employee’s soft skills.
Most of these methods are not reliable, and you still won’t be able to tell if your team is making progress.
Sales teams need an intelligent and scalable platform that can help them develop soft skills efficiently and sustainably. This platform can create quantifiable goals and action plans, and help sales teams address the challenge of improving soft skills.
The industry’s leading sales training platform is incorporating soft skill assessments into its program.
The approach is designed to be objective and science-driven in order to allow for precise progress tracking per individual. It also highlights the need for adjustment to the training plan in order to achieve goals.
What Soft Skills Do You Need for Sales?
Some soft skills that are important for salespeople are the ability to build relationships, communicate effectively, and be persuasive. It’s also important to be able to listen to customers and understand their needs.
Salespeople need to be able to adapt their approach based on the customer they’re dealing with. They also need to be organized and have good time management skills in order to keep track of their sales pipeline.
What Are The Core Skills of a Salesperson?
1. The ability to build rapport and establish trust with potential customers.
2. The ability to identify customer needs and pain points.
3. The ability to effectively communicate the value proposition of the product or service being sold.
If you’re a sales representative, honing your soft skills for sales is essential to success. Communication, empathy, and problem solving are just some of the important soft skills that can help you close more deals and build better relationships with clients. So don’t neglect these important skills – focus on improving them today!