7 years ago
February 21, 2017

9 Skills Sales People Need to Succeed in Today’s Competitive Market

Top-performing sales people in today’s competitive market have all of the right skills to enable success. Learn which skills are most needed.

Rhys Metler


Sales is a tough field. Although there are over 20 million sales professionals in North America, the majority of them are mediocre and some are just downright terrible at their jobs—they couldn’t close a sale if their lives depended on it.

Though many people enter the sales field in the hopes of a lucrative career, many aren’t prepared with the right skills to succeed.

Luckily, many sales skills can be learned. And if you work hard enough to improve yourself as a sales professional, you can become one of the top-performing sales people that companies fight over.

Here are the skills you need to succeed in today’s competitive sales market.

1. Qualifying Skills

To close a lot of deals, you have to learn how to qualify prospects efficiently and quickly. Not every prospect you talk to will buy from you, and it’s just a waste of time to keep trying to sell to someone who will never buy. Great sales people have a set of criteria describing who they should and shouldn’t sell to.

2. Listening Skills

If you spend the majority of your sales calls talking, you’re probably not closing a lot of deals. Sales pros have perfected their listening skills. They listen sincerely and without an agency. They know that the buying process is about the customer’s wants and needs—not their own. Set aside your quotas, commission, and promotions, and think about the customers first. Listen to what they have to say, read body language, discover hidden clues in their tone, and you’ll learn a lot of information that will help you close deals more successfully.

3. Rapport-Building Skills

Sales is all about relationships. The best sales people understand that customers will buy from the reps that they like and trust. And they work hard to ensure that they can build rapport with new clients and maintain healthy relationships that will turn into loyalty.

4. Problem-Solving Skills

Mediocre sales reps will give up when faced with a problem, but highly successful sales professionals will think of innovative and creative ways to reach senior decision makers, to negotiate, and to close deals that both parties are happy with. They don’t give up—they find solutions.

5. Organizational Skills

To be a competitive sales person, you need to have your head in the game. You can’t just go through your career willy-nilly and expect to see success. You need to set goals, learn to prioritize, and know how to delegate. You have to be organized in order to plot out your roadmap to success.

6. Presentation Skills

Knowing how to create and pull off a great presentation is essential. Successful sales people will not recycle the same presentation for every client. They will tailor and personalize their presentations based on the customer’s unique needs, wants, and problems. And they’ll prepare and practice in order to deliver a stellar presentation.

7. Objection-Handling Skills

You can’t avoid objections. They’re part of the job. But you can be prepared to handle them flawlessly in order to appease concerns and close deals. The most successful sales people catalogue lists of common objections and come up with counters for each one ahead of time so they don’t freeze during their meetings.

8. Communication Skills

Because sales is a people business, sales professionals need to have strong communication skills. They need to be great on the phone in order to get their foot in the door. They need to communicate properly via email to get their tone and meaning across. And they need to communicate strongly in meetings to close deals.

9. Research Skills

Finally, to succeed, sales people need to be great researchers. This is the only way they’ll become knowledgeable enough to build trust and credibility. They need to be able to research their buyers and their needs as well as their competitors and their industries.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.