The Soft Skills You Need to
Succeed at Enterprise Sales

See also: Customer Service Skills

Enterprise sales is a challenging and rewarding career that requires a combination of hard and soft skills. Hard skills are the technical and product knowledge that you need to sell your solution to large and complex organizations. Soft skills are the interpersonal and communication skills that you need to build trust, rapport, and influence with your prospects and customers.

Soft skills are often overlooked or undervalued in enterprise sales, but they are essential for success. According to a study by LinkedIn, 92% of hiring managers said that soft skills are more important than hard skills when hiring for sales roles [1]. Moreover, soft skills can make the difference between closing a deal or losing it, especially in competitive and long sales cycles.

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What is enterprise sales?

Enterprise sales is a type of selling that focuses on large-scale, often customizable solutions to large organizations. These sales are typically complex, involving multiple stakeholders, extended sales cycles, and high-value deals.

What is enterprise sales as it relates to other kinds of sales? Well, enterprise sales differs from SMB and mid-market sales in terms of the scale of the challenge, the number of decision makers, and the level of risk. Enterprise sales requires a different strategy, team and tools than other types of sales. This is where soft skills come into play. Some of the most important are:


Listening is the foundation of effective communication and relationship-building in enterprise sales. It means paying attention to what your prospects and customers are saying, as well as what they are not saying. Listening requires more than just hearing what the other person is saying. It means asking open-ended questions, clarifying their needs and pain points, and summarizing their key points. This is commonly referred to as “active listening". It highlights your empathy and respect and shows you have genuine interest and curiosity in their situation.

By becoming a better listener, you’ll understand your prospects and customers better and be able to tailor your solution and value proposition to their specific needs and goals. You’ll uncover hidden opportunities, objections and risks that you can address in your sales process. Listening also builds trust and credibility, as it shows that you care about them and their success and that you are not just pushing your own agenda.


Storytelling is the art of using stories to engage, persuade and inspire your prospects and customers. Stories are powerful tools that can help you to connect with your audience on an emotional level, and to make your solution more memorable and compelling. Stories can also help you to differentiate yourself and your solution from your competitors, and to overcome objections and challenges.

Using case studies, testimonials, anecdotes and stories from your own life will illustrate how your solution can solve your prospects' and customers' problems, and how it can help them achieve their desired outcomes.

Storytelling can also mean using metaphors, analogies and visuals to simplify complex concepts and make them easier to understand. Using a clear and captivating structure, such as the hero's journey, can capture your audience's attention and keep them interested throughout your sales presentation.


Negotiation is the skill of reaching a mutually beneficial agreement with your prospects and customers. It’s not about winning or losing, but rather about finding a win-win solution that satisfies both parties' interests and needs. Negotiation is also not about compromising or conceding, but about creating value.

To negotiate successfully, you need to prepare well for your sales conversations and know your value proposition, your best alternative, your walk-away point and your ideal outcome. Understanding your prospects' and customers' motivations, priorities, constraints and decision criteria is essential.

Negotiation also means using effective strategies and tactics, such as anchoring, framing, trading and closing, that can help you to influence your prospects and customers, and to overcome impasses and objections.


Collaboration is the skill of working effectively with others, both internally and externally, to achieve a common goal. Like in most areas of business, collaboration is crucial for enterprise sales, as you often need to coordinate and align with multiple stakeholders, such as your sales team, your technical team, your marketing team, your legal team, your prospects, your customers and your partners.

Communicating clearly and frequently, and sharing relevant information and feedback are the hallmarks of good collaboration. They help foster a sense of support and respect and give you an opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of others.

Collaboration also means being flexible and adaptable and being open to new ideas and perspectives. Taking accountability and responsibility, and delivering on your commitments and expectations are fundamental to effective collaboration.


Sales is rarely easy and it takes resilience to cope with stress, adversity, and failure to bounce back stronger and wiser. Resilience is especially vital for enterprise sales, as you often face high pressure, uncertainty and rejection, and you need to deal with long and complex sales cycles, demanding and changing customers and fierce and evolving competition.

Resilience means having an optimistic mindset and focusing on the things that you can control and influence rather than the things that you cannot. To build resilience, you’ve got to adopt a learning mindset and see challenges and setbacks as opportunities to improve and grow, rather than as threats and failures.

Resilience also means having a strong and clear purpose and being motivated and passionate about what you do and why you do it. This requires having a healthy and balanced lifestyle and taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.


Enterprise sales is a rewarding career that requires a combination of hard and soft skills but one thing is clear: soft skills are much more valuable when all is said and done.

More than simply knowing your product, you need to build trust, rapport, and influence with your prospects and customers to succeed. Some of the most important soft skills for enterprise sales are things you may already have a penchant for. But even if you don’t, by developing and improving these soft skills, you can increase your chances of success and satisfaction in enterprise sales.

About the Author

Harold Johnson has degree in business and specializes in enterprise sales.