5 Key Skills You Need to Be a Top Salesperson

How to be Charismatic

Many people mistakenly assume that anyone can become a salesperson when it’s a challenging job that requires soft skills, hard skills, the right attitude and passion.

In fact, the world’s top sales recruiters will tell you how complex and demanding the job actually is. After interviewing tens of thousands of candidates for over ten years, sales experts say that only half of sales hires meet their quota, while less than half do so consistently.

Experts also say that bad sales hires can cost a company as much as six times their base salary. To avoid these problems, the best companies strive to hire only exceptional salespeople. Unfortunately, only 20% of people interviewed for sales positions are truly top performers.

If you genuinely desire to have a great career in sales and develop a reputation as a top salesperson, then you must have the following skills:

1. Knowledge Gathering

Man in suit carrying a laptop.

It's simple — if you don't have an intimate understanding of the product or services you're selling, you’re going to be a subpar salesperson. After getting hired, your first step is to learn everything about the product or service you’re selling, regardless of what it is. As a salesperson, you must competently explain to your potential customers what a product is, its strengths and weaknesses, how it works, and what value it offers them or their business.

Not only must you understand your product, but you must also understand your market to be an impactful salesperson — you must skillfully research your buyers, market trends, competition, and other relevant factors.

You should also be comfortable researching your buyer using CRM data, news articles, social media pages, public records, newspapers, and more in order to develop an accurate framework of their psyche. With the right knowledge, you can exceed your client’s expectations.

2. Patience and Resilience

It’s critical to be patient as a salesperson. Not every pitch or meeting will go your way. Even the best salespeople can have lean patches and occasionally go for an extended period without a win. What you do during this time is critical to your success.

  • You should learn from each failure by figuring out what you could have done better.
  • You must be able to handle pressure, or you won’t last long in sales.
  • You must keep motivated and refocus on your next sales meeting by not taking every failure to heart.

3. Communication

Speech bubbles on a pink background.

As a salesperson, you must communicate meaningfully, regardless of the medium of communication. For example, when you speak to your client in-person, you must have the right body language and strike the right tone. You must also be highly observant.

An excellent way to develop rapport is to match your client’s style and tone. If they’re serious, then don’t try to break the ice. However, if they’re joking around, then you can reciprocate. By mirroring your customer, you can establish a relationship.

Likewise, when you communicate via phone, you must learn to grab your customer’s attention immediately if it’s a cold call. Similarly, you must find a way to reestablish rapport quickly with an old customer. It would be best to let your personality shine through on the phone to establish a human connection because your target can't see you. It's also critical to read a buyer’s mood when communicating with them on the phone — if your buyer is busy, you should be concise.

If you’re communicating with your clients over email or social media, you can be compelling with your professional writing and presentation skills.

Presentation skills are essential for a salesperson. Whether you're presenting online or in-person, you must deliver your message in an engaging and informative manner while discussing the product's features with relevance to a buyer's challenges and demands.

It's also important to know what type of communication is most persuasive for your audience. For example, silver-tongued communication works for certain business people, while succinct communication works better for others.

Of course, communication is a two-way street. Not only must you be skilled at talking, but you must also know how to listen. To be an active listener, you must focus on what your buyer has to say and ask the right follow-up questions. Sometimes, you may need to paraphrase what a buyer says to show you’re truly paying attention.

Not only can communication skills help you retain old customers and convert qualified leads, but they can have a hugely positive impact on the rest of your company. As a salesperson, you are your organization's eyes and ears in the real world — the feedback you share with your executives helps them improve their products.

Likewise, the feedback you share with your company’s marketing team helps them develop better advertising campaigns. Thanks to your feedback, your friends in marketing can also create better customer profiles to support the sales department on the road to success.

4. Time Management

The life of a salesperson can be incredibly hectic. There are only so many hours in the day to research, travel, attend meetings, develop skills, and chase leads. Without the ability to manage your time, you can easily disappoint your customers. Remember, being late for a rendezvous with a client is one of the worst mistakes a salesperson can make.

Time management can also help you find balance in your life. Self-care is critical for any salesperson interested in developing a long and prosperous career in sales alongside the other skills listed here.

5. Negotiation

After effectively communicating with your buyer and developing the perfect proposal, you enter the negotiation phase with your clients. Negotiation is a delicate art in sales and requires innate skills, experience, intuition, and boldness.
Ideally, you must negotiate the maximum amount your customer is willing to pay; however, this is easier said than done. Push your client too far, and you might lose a sale. Offer too many concessions, and you risk damaging your relationship with customers who may have paid more for the same product.

A fine way to develop your negotiation skills is to practice with other, more experienced team members.

With all of these skills under your belt, you’re bound to become the top salesperson on your team.

About the Author

Rob Teitelman write blogs and copy for small startups, family run service providers and national companies across North America. As an entrepreneur, Rob can relate to the struggles, challenges and obstacles businesses and their owners need to overcome, particularly in the digital space. He is a recreational musician, amateur photographer, and avid fan of tech and gadgets.