The role of the sales professional is unique, and so are the sales skills needed for success. Although salespeople usually are employees working on behalf of their employers, their approach is typically entrepreneurial. This perspective helps them develop career skills other professionals may lack. However, non-sales professionals interested in enhancing and advancing their own careers can cultivate these skills. There are three things in particular that salespeople do well.
Salespeople’s resilience following rejection allows them to keep plugging away until they've achieved a desired result. This sales skill is comprised of perspective, confidence and persistence. Whereas many professionals interpret "no" as "not ever," salespeople interpret it as "not now." This perspective encourages them to try again, when conditions might be better. In the meantime, they neither dwell on the negative response nor take it personally. The ability to take these short-term failures in stride hinges on the salesperson's confidence in both his product and his ability to overcome the current obstacles to closing the sale. Persistence is a natural offshoot of confidence, and it's the sales skill that ultimately brings the salesperson to the customer exactly when the customer needs the product or service.
Communication is as much about listening as it is about talking, and successful sales people excel at both. Because salespeople tend to be extroverted by nature, the talking part comes easily to most. Listening, on the other hand, is a sales skill that must be cultivated. Although the salesperson has a goal in mind, her approach must put the customer's needs first. Determining precisely what those needs are and devising a plan to satisfy them requires that the salesperson engage the customer in focused discussion to define the customer’s challenges. Only after the salesperson has listened to the customer’s concerns can she effectively communicate how she might employ her product or service to resolve them.
Relationship building may be the most important sales skill. Whereas all professionals rely on relationships to some degree, relationships are at the forefront of everything salespeople do. The quickest, and perhaps only, way to approach a new customer is to reach out directly to the decision maker. This can be challenging, particularly in a business-to-business environment.
A salesperson relies on his carefully cultivated network of contacts for access to these key individuals. Once the sale closes, getting repeat business depends on the salesperson's ability to maintain the relationship over time. The better the salesperson knows and understands the customer and the customer’s business, the more likely the customer is to trust him in expanded capacities. Positive, trust-based relationships may eventually result in referrals that professionals need to enhance their reputations and grow their businesses.
Although all professionals need specific career skills to succeed in their roles, sales skills are useful in nearly any business setting. Non-sales professionals willing to match a salesperson's strengths can give their careers and their businesses a tremendous boost.
Photo courtesy of AscensionDigital at FreeDigitalPhotos.net