Let’s be honest, sales reps who hit their team’s goals quarter after quarter have some things in common – Soft Skills!
The key to successful sales representatives is the art of soft skills. These are the abilities, that a person has to build relationships, encourage productive conversation and provide an exceptional customer experience. Soft skills are a tricky thing. There is no formal process for developing them and many times, they aren’t taught in any official capacity at all – but it’s possible to learn more of them through exposure and practice!
In this article, you’ll expand your understanding of the seven soft skills successful salespeople use and how to get them a boost in their performance.
What Are Sales Soft Skills?
Soft skills are what allow a salesperson to work more efficiently and achieve their full potential. Skills like interpersonal competencies, intrapersonal capabilities, communication techniques, and other personal qualities all come into play when it comes time for these professionals to do their jobs well.
Soft skills are key to success, but not everyone has the same set of attributes. Here are the seven soft skills every sales rep needs to get ahead and most importantly, ways to develop them:
7 Sales Soft Skills And Their Development
Some people have a natural knack for building rapport. They can walk into any room and instantly make everyone feel like they’ve known each other their entire lives! You might be a natural at building rapport, but it’s something you have been working on for years. This isn’t magic; it’s something you learn through trial, error, and feedback from others in your life.
People with growth mindsets believe they can strengthen their natural talents and develop new abilities over time. People with fixed mindsets, on the other hand, view themselves as a finished product that is set in stone. They see what they have been dealt and are stuck there for good rather than believing that anything could ever change about them or improve upon who they are now no matter how hard they try.
Developing a Growth Mindset
When we emphasize growth, and not winning or losing, it’s a lot easier to feel confident in the face of failure.
When you are not afraid to fail then you will be able to take risks that make your life fuller. Consider using “yet” when describing skills that may require more practice because this word has the power to boost confidence by reminding us there is always room for improvement and things can get better with time.
Psychologist Carol Dweck invented the growth-minded concept – has found that using this word can dramatically boost confidence.
Someone is good at listening to and implementing feedback, their name typically skyrockets to the top of the leaderboard. After all, they’re combining the strengths of a great sales rep with the insights, wisdom, and experience from their manager. It is a winning combo!
Sales reps are always adapting to new trends and expectations, yet with the evolving sophistication of buyers, it can be tough. We all know that what worked in 2001 won’t fly anymore; so great salespeople have to learn how to adapt if they want their strategies up-to-date in 2021.
Mark Roberge, senior lecturer at Harvard Business School said that highly coachable reps are always analyzing their performance and looking for weak areas. They step back each day to reflect on what went well and where they could improve.
Adaptability is all about how you respond to feedback. Be open-minded and follow through on your manager’s comments and suggestions even if they seem strange or troublesome for the moment. If their advice works out well in the end – then it was a good decision! Even better if these suggestions don’t work after putting them into practice – at least that means you’re not wasting time doing something wrong.
Finally, communicate with your boss more often, so that he can gauge what progress has been made easier than before.
By tapping into your customer’s mental models, you can become a star sales rep. Having an understanding of what they are feeling and thinking makes it easier to hone in on their pain points and motivations. You will know when the time is right to push them or hold back too!
Plus, showing that you understand how difficult buyers perceive sellers as being aggressive goes a long way towards overcoming this stereotype by proving yourself trustworthy from day one.
There are many scientifically-backed ways to boost your empathy. The next time you work with a prospect, take two seconds and imagine yourself in their shoes. You’ll feel more empathetic as soon as the thought crosses your mind! Another way is by talking to them or meditating- this will help clear up any misunderstandings that might have occurred during communication between both parties so that you can understand each other better. To make it clear to prospects you’ve got their back, try using phrases like “I hear what’s going on” or “That sounds challenging.
Between talking on the phone, sending emails, giving demos, and speaking in meetings most sales reps spend at least 90% of their day communicating. Having solid communication skills is essential because you must be able to clearly and persuasively get your ideas across without going off on tangents or using buzzwords- phrases like “game-changer” are popular with no meaning behind them. You should also keep your audience in mind at all times if you speak the same way to everyone someone’s wrong: After all, they have vastly different goals, desires, and background information.
Developing Communication Skills
Watch or listen to recordings of yourself. You’ll inevitably notice verbal tics or confusing statements that you completely missed during the actual interaction, and every time you do so, make a quick note so as not to repeat your mistakes in the future. Reviewing these conversations also allows you to analyze your prospects’ reactions; once you find your weak spots, you can adjust accordingly.
Humility is a virtue worth acquiring. Sales reps who can identify the right time and place for humility consistently knock their deals out of the park. When you’re humble enough to reveal a vulnerability or admit that you don’t know something, your prospects will immediately trust and respect you more. As such, they’ll view you as a trusted advisor or even partner in their success.
Have you ever been in a social situation and not known the answer to something? You might be tempted to hide your ignorance or change the subject, instead, try saying “I don’t know.” If they lose faith in you because of this lack of knowledge then add that “but I’ll find out”. It’s better than giving up! Also, make sure to follow up.
Mistakes are, in reality, just learning opportunities. When you make one don’t use language that blames other people or the situation. Instead of saying “we must’ve gotten our wires crossed”, say ‘I forgot to clarify when we’d meet – it’s all my fault.’ Humility is about owning your mistakes and not making excuses for them!
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is an important tool for any successful person. It helps you build relationships and understand the emotions of others, which often improves your communication skills as well as life in general! the major components of EQ are:
- Emotional awareness: You’re well-attuned to your moods and feelings
- Self-confidence: Your self-assured nature is unmatched by a few, yet you are never arrogant
- Self-regulation – You can control reactions to external factors like a pro!
- Adaptability – The flexibility you’ve always had in adapting quickly when changes happen
- Influence (to change others’ points of view): With strong leadership skills, you can influence people easily even if they disagree at first
You need to have a high EQ to accomplish your objectives. People will naturally follow you because of your positivity.
Developing Emotional Intelligence
Building EQ requires you to pay careful attention and self-awareness of your emotions at all times. Ask yourself, “What am I feeling right now? Why do I feel this way?” Once you’ve achieved a sense of awareness in regards to how it affects every aspect of life: relationships with friends or family; career success; happiness levels then the ability for empathy will come organically. You’ll be able to modulate your state mind when interacting from anger into compassion without any effort.
You should also attempt to monitor the emotions of those around you as well by asking questions about what they’re thinking and feeling most importantly if they don’t reveal their true selves which can prove challenging since people are not always willing to share.
The real test of resilience isn’t how you handle a bad situation, it’s what matters most is the way you bounce back afterward. Salespeople face rejection more than any other profession does. Resilience and tenacity are two key skills they use to stay motivated even when times get tough. Resilience doesn’t mean ignoring negative feelings or pretending a difficult sales call never happened. Instead, it’s important to process those feelings in a healthy way that prevents burnout. Afterward, resilient sales reps can move on to the next prospect and give them 100%.
Rejection is a regular part of sales life. The more you can learn to deal with it, the less impactful each rejection will be on your psyche and success in sales!
You should always be ready to deal with rejection. One way is by taking a positive stance on it and seeing how you can use the opportunity for something new, like the next potential customer or even your personal development.
For Success: Pair Soft Skills With Hard Work
Work ethic and soft skills are the perfect pair. If you learn to understand your product, industry, and sales tools then meeting your expectations will be no problem at all! It’s these soft skills like communication, empathy, resilience that help us achieve our own goals regularly.
The soft skills in this article are specific to sales roles, but they’re transferable to most other disciplines. If you decide to move into management or even a new department, these sales soft skills will follow you on your journey and ensure career success no matter where you go!