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Eight soft skills salespeople can adopt to improve their performance

When you are trained for a new job you expect technical skills to be at the top of the list, but in sales, the best tools you can have are your personal skills. ​

When you are trained for a new job you expect technical skills to be at the top of the list, but in sales, the best tools you can have are your personal skills. Of course, hard skills such as using computer systems are still essential, but making yourself a valuable asset has gained greater importance to employers recently.

Soft skills are increasingly emphasised in most industries, however, salespeople rely on them to be able to build rapport with customers. Products are easier to buy from someone that the customer likes and trusts - if you come across as disrespectful or pushy, this reflects badly on the product you are trying to sell and business will in turn suffer.

Here are some soft skills that every salesperson can adopt with the right motivation:

A growth mindset – making yourself valuable to a company, in a world where change is rapid, you need to change yourself at times too. If you become stuck in your ways and unable to adapt, you will lose your value every time your skills become obsolete. Don’t be satisfied with just reaching your sales goal and only focusing on numbers; aiming to become better will allow you to exceed those goals. Personal development is one of the most important aspects.

Confidence – this can mean the difference between a good salesperson and a great salesperson. If you don’t sound confident in what you’re saying, customers will not believe that you know what you’re talking about or that you honestly believe what you’re saying. If you don’t have confidence, there are many techniques to try out. For example, writing down what you need to say before you make a phone call can make you feel more prepared and this will come across when you speak to the customer.

Passion – having ambition and drive for selling can come from your passion and enjoyment. Loving what you do is the best way to be better at what you do in any field – your positivity will shine through and you’ll be compelled to be better by practising and your talent will come naturally to you. Passion can be good for teamwork, which is increasingly important in sales. Your passion can influence that of others in your team and create a more social, happy and effective sales team.

Effective communication – If you want someone to give you their time, you need to earn it by communicating well. A salesperson needs to be a good communicator at all times. Knowing how to speak to different people is vital – you would never speak to a customer the same way you would speak to a friend or colleague. Imagine you are talking to someone very important - which your customers are - like your boss, for example. Be polite, honest, clear and concise.  

Active listening – when you’re talking to a potential customer, you shouldn’t be dominating a conversation, no matter how badly you want to reach your sales target. People will appreciate it if you listen to what they need, not just what you want to brag about – although it may be tempting when you’re in a hurry. Showing them that you are listening can be as simple as nodding and making eye contact when face-to-face, or simply saying “yes, I agree” over the phone. Having empathy is in itself a soft skill which will take you far in sales.

Knowledge – this may sound obvious but you need to know what it is you’re selling and who you are selling to. It also helps to really understand why a customer would want to buy something from you. Understanding your customer requires building and maintaining a relationship or just a good bit of research. Touching back on the confidence point, knowing what you are doing will generate more trust in what you are saying. These skills do not just benefit you as a salesperson but as a member of a team. A business can thrive more with a team of people with these soft skills, than just a team with technical skills. Each of these skills are transferable to any profession and can be useful in your social life as well.

Soft skills are not as easy to adopt as hard skills because they are seen as innate personality traits, but they can be learned and they can also be measured by employers.

Another benefit of having soft skills is that they can’t be replaced by technology – these are people skills.

If you're looking for your next sales role or a talented candidate, find your nearest Reed Business Support office.

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