There’s no question that some personality styles are a better fit for a career in sales than others. An outgoing person, for example, would enjoy the challenge of presenting to customers more than an introverted one who prefers books to people.
However, it’s important to understand the difference between traits and skills. Traits are unique, inborn qualities that differentiate one person from the next. They don’t change much throughout life. Skills, on the other hand, are what people learn on the job. The good news for those embarking on a sales career is that many top managers agree they can teach the sales skills needed for on-the-job success.
Understanding the Buyer is the Foundation for Success
Customers expect a certain experience when they purchase a product or service, and it’s the salesperson’s job to deliver it. This requires studying the prospective buyer to understand why he or she needs the product or service in the first place. When a sales professional understands a customer’s motivations, it makes it easier to exceed his or her motivations.
As an example of the above, the sales representative could offer a long trial period for a customer who appears nervous about committing to a company-wide software change. This represents a concept known as buyer-responsive selling. It also helps to develop trust between the two parties because the sales prospect sees the willingness of the representative to meet his or her needs as they exist today.
Sales Skills Representatives Can Learn on the Job
A new salesperson may have an outgoing demeanor and drive to succeed but few real-world skills for a career in sales. Here are the top skills sales managers feel they can teach to anyone willing to learn them:
- Generating a Pipeline: By observing managers and other representatives, new salespeople can learn how to upsell and cross-sell beyond the current opportunities in the pipeline. They can also review the accounts of existing customers and call on prospects who previously declined due to variable factors. The time could be just right to sell a different product or service.
- Ability to Persuade: People who can’t convince others to buy what they’re selling won’t meet their sales quotas and won’t last very long in their new career. It’s the salesperson’s job to generate excitement about using the service or owning the product so that the prospect can’t imagine not having it. To succeed, their pitch needs to go beyond initial benefits and demonstrate how the product or service will improve the customer’s life on a day-to-day basis.
- Time Management and Business Skills: Effective sales managers encourage their direct reports to spend time before leaving the office each day planning for the next day. This includes allotting time for things such as revenue generation, account management, and seeking new training opportunities. Sales representatives can also acquire extensive information about what they’re selling as well as the customer’s business and industry. Prospects have an easier time trusting salespeople who demonstrate strong knowledge about all these things.
In time, the new sales representative will learn how to accurately forecast future sales and manage their pipeline well. This requires good time and stress management skills, the ability to ask for help, and knowing when a certain deal isn’t worth any more time.