6 Sales Skills Anyone Can Learn to Be a Great Salesperson
Would you call yourself a born salesperson? It might feel like the ability to sell is something you’re either born with or you’re not, but according to some researchers, everyone is technically “in sales.”
Sure, we’re not Ready to get started? We’ve put together six practical skills anyone can learn. Practice them, improve them, and master them all trying to find new customers to buy a product. But if you’ve ever tried to convince a kid to go to bed or a shop to give you a discount, you’ve been selling all along.
Of course, the sales skills that are needed when you actually work in sales require more targeted effort. But while we all have our own natural aptitudes, anyone can learn to become better at influencing others – which is, in essence, what selling is really all about.
Your sales skills will skyrocket as a result.
1. Find your comfort level
If “To Sell Is Human” author Daniel Pink is correct, everyone is a salesperson. Even so, nobody wants to come across as the stereotypical used car salesperson. Instead, you want to sell in ways that make you feel comfortable with what you’re doing (and that let you sleep easy at night).
That’s why it’s important to find your sales personality and understand what makes you proud to do your job – and what makes you feel ‘sleazy’.
How to do it
If you have to pick just one area to focus on from this article, concentrate on becoming comfortable in your sales role. You could learn every other skill on this list and then some, but if you’re an insecure, nervous salesperson, you might never have the chance to try them out.
To start, you need a product, company, or service you believe in. It’s difficult to sell something if you don’t. After all, if it’s clear you don’t really believe what you’re saying to a potential customer, why should they buy in?
So figure out what it is that excites you about your product or service, and then focus on genuinely helping people who need what it offers. If you frame your sales process in this way – helping people with problems your product can solve–- the whole thing is likely to feel much easier.
Then, practice, practice, and practice some more. With on-the-job experience and a product you believe in – and the self-confidence and authenticity that come from both – you’ll soon find that selling is something you like and are good at.
2. Learn to habit stack
To be an effective salesperson, you have to manage your time, which you can do by implementing systems into your day. Systems work especially well for sales, as the typical sales process occurs in multiple stages and responds well to compartmentalization.
Think in terms of prospect, prepare, approach, present, etc.
How to do it
Over time, systems will begin to emerge from your work. Some steps in the system will occur so frequently that they’ll become habits naturally. You probably already have some examples of this at home – for instance, maybe you always put your clean dishes away while waiting for your coffee to brew in the morning.
You have habits like this in your work too, but you can supercharge them by adopting habit stacking – basically, linking everyday habits together so that they’re always performed sequentially. You could, for instance, make it a habit to always open your CRM or email marketing system when you turn on your computer in the morning. Once that habit is established, add more layers until you have a productive daily sales routine.
This should be done gradually. But if you do it right, you’ll have multiple essential sales tasks taken care of by the time your coffee’s cool enough to drink.
3. Get strategic about prospecting
Strategic prospecting is a cross between prospecting and lead qualification. For this article, we’re defining prospecting as the process of adding possible targets to your sales funnel, and lead qualification as assessing these possible customers for suitability. The great news is that if you’re more strategic about the way you do your prospecting, you’ll have less work to manage at the lead qualification stage.
According to sales strategist and author Marc Wayshak, at least 50% of your prospects are not a good fit for what you’re selling. In the interest of becoming more efficient, learning to be laser-focused on only the 50% who are will save you both time and effort.
How to do it
Your prospecting will get more strategic through education and experience – unfortunately, there’s no real shortcut here. The more time you spend refining your process, incorporating wisdom from the greats, and reflecting on your own successes and failures, the better you’ll become at strategic prospecting.
That said, you can speed up the process using technology. There are tools on the market that will help tactically, by finding email addresses or scheduling follow-ups, for example. Adopt these into your process as you continue to refine your strategic prospecting abilities.
4. Become an industry expert
The benefits of becoming recognized as an industry expert are huge, especially in sales. Not only is your industry expertise likely to be linked to the product you’re selling (and familiarity with your product/service is an excellent way to become more comfortable in a sales role), it’ll also get you in front of new audiences and new potential clients.
How to do it
There are many routes that people have taken to become industry experts (aka, “thought leaders”). For many, it simply followed as a result of their life’s work in a certain profession, often coupled with a naturally outgoing personality. Others have actively worked to create a sense of “industry expertise” as part of their marketing efforts.
Either way, start by making sure you “talk the talk” (in other words, that you truly possess some expertise that’s of use to others). Then, look for ways to share that information with the people who need it, such as speaking engagements, blog posts, interviews, and podcasts (either as a host or guest).
5. Supercharge your communication
A quick look at articles about improving sales will show you that copywriting, oral communication, and social media are all thought to be crucial to your success as a salesperson. They are, but there are two other overarching skills that bring these ways of communicating together and provide coherence throughout the sales process: storytelling and EQ.
Together, these two qualities offer a way to guarantee that your message is meeting its target, and that you can manage any outcome of this communication “on the fly.” After all, learning sales dialogues is one thing. Coming out on top when a potential client throws you a curveball is quite another.
How to do it
- Compelling storytelling
By improving your storytelling skills, you make it more likely that your emails will be opened, your articles will be read, and your overall communication will be seen as authentic and trustworthy. Storytelling can be implemented across social media, content marketing, emails, and verbal communication. With practice, it’ll become second nature.
- EQ, or “fake it ‘til you make it”
Communication isn’t a one-way street. When it’s the client’s turn to respond, emotional intelligence (or EQ, for emotional quotient) is what’s going to better prepare you to handle that response, whatever it may be.
In an ideal world, your client will chime in with a “Sure, sign me up!” But it’s much more likely that you’re going to need to know how to respond to objections (or when it’s the right time to stay quiet). If your emotional intelligence isn’t great, seek out responses that’ll help you learn to respond to the different scenarios you’re likely to encounter as a salesperson.
6. Stay on the radar
This is a big one. Even after implementing all the skills discussed above, you still need to learn the art of subtly staying on people’s radar – no matter what part of the funnel they’re in, what’s happened in your recent interactions, and how busy you find yourself.
How to do it
Finding the right balance between “available” and “overbearing” can be difficult. Add this to the fact that different prospects will have different reactions to your approach no matter how you do it, and it becomes obvious that mastering this skill takes practice.
First, pick a strategy. You have to start somewhere, and you can always modify or abandon your chosen strategy as you gain some experience and see how it works in the real world. Pay attention to how you contact prospects, when you set your follow-up intervals, and how you process them once they’ve reached specific stages of your funnel (or reacted in a certain way to your contact attempts).
Once your strategy is working relatively well, use technology to automate as much of the process as possible. Tools like CRMs can help you manage much of the process from start to finish, while other systems that focus on specific subsets of the process – like email campaigns – can help you to stay front-and-center on your prospects’ radar.
Great salespeople are made, not just born
Some of us are born salespeople. The rest of us need to put in some effort to bring our natural ability up to the level at which we can compete. Start by adding the tips from this list into your daily routine until they become habitual. For example, make practicing better communication an everyday habit by stacking it with habits you already have, as part of your daily schedule.
Rather than only thinking about improving concrete or tactical skills (for example, knowing how to use a certain software tool), focus on mastering your mindset. In time, learning this and other strategic skills will turn you into a sales-generating rockstar.
Which of these tips do you think will be easiest to turn into a daily habit? Share your thoughts in the comments below: