All top sales people have well developed selling skills supporting their success. The good news is that these selling skills are not innate for most people, and can be learned and developed with less effort than you might think. Even top sales people never stop trying to develop their own selling skills, and of all the skills a sales person has, these five are the most important.
1. Active Listening
Listening to prospects is the most basic selling skill a sales person has, and it is also one of the most important. A sales person needs to be able to listen actively and identify opportunities based on the information a prospect relates – or chooses not to share. Additionally, it is only by actively listening to prospects that top sales people are able to ask the right questions to move a prospect closer to a sale.
2. Relating to Prospects
A top sales person could have the best understanding of a product or service of all of the people on a given sales team, but if he or she can’t relate to a prospect, the prospect won’t be engaged in the sales cycle. A buyer needs to know that their business will benefit from a deal, and a top sales person has the selling skills to create rapport with that buyer by engaging both rationally and emotionally.
3. Managing the Sales Pipeline
There are several versions of the sales pipeline, but all have at least one stage in common: Prospecting. Prospecting is one of the most critical areas for sales people to manage. Yet a surprising number of sales people either never prospect, attempting instead to coast on hot leads and existing clients, or prospect too much, never reaching the next stages in the sales cycle. A top sales person with strong selling skills avoids these extremes, maintaining a healthy stream of prospects into the sales pipeline while still closing deals at the other end.
4. Identifying Decision Makers
Too many sales people without developed selling skills spend time trying to close a deal with a prospect who in actuality is not empowered to make a buying decision. A top sales person with strong selling skills will be able to identify whether or not he or she is dealing with the appropriate individuals, and will not be afraid to ask a prospect to put him or her in contact with the person or group responsible for a buying decision. Moreover, a top sales person will be able to do so in such a way that the prospect does not feel shut out and leave the sales cycle.
5. Overcoming Objections
A sales person might have all of the above four selling skills, but without the ability to overcome objections, it is impossible to become a top sales person. Objections run the gamut from soft objections like “We might not be able to afford it this quarter” to hard objections such as “We don’t see a use for this product.” A sales person needs to not only have the knowledge of what he or she is selling and the prospect’s business, but the selling skills to convince a prospect with objections that his or her offering is the best solution.
With deep experience in recruiting sales professionals for all industries, sales recruiting agencies can also help you form a better sales hiring process, assisting you with all aspects of recruiting, hiring, and retaining top sales people with these critical selling skills. Given that most top sales people never actively seek a new position, sales recruiters are the best recruiting options for organizations seeking top candidates. If your organization is having trouble recruiting candidates with these essential selling skills, contact a sales recruiting agency and ask how your sales hiring could be improved.
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Matthew has over 20 years of sales and sales management experience. In addition to being the founder of SalesHub, he is the founder of SalesForce Search, which was #4 on Profit Magazine's Hot 50 list as one of the fastest growing companies in Canada. When he’s not helping companies improve their revenue he trains and competes in half ironman distance triathlons to “relax”.
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