Every salesperson has a different selling style. However, there are certain skills that all top salespeople have in common. We've outlined 5 skills that we believe are essential for sales reps in the 21st century - whether it's establishing a relationship with a client, identifying customer needs, or the sale itself.
1. Active listening
Gone are the days when salespeople were predatory beasts who imposed products on clients and didn't let them have their say. Experience has shown that empathy and active listening is a much more pleasant and effective approach for both parties. Ideally, today, most of the sales meeting is not spoken by the salesperson, but by the client.
Active listening = paying maximum attention to the client's problems, shortcomings and ideas without interruption. The client must know that the salesperson perceives, understands and thinks about his/her problems.
By actively listening to the trader:
- gets to know the client's needs faster and finds the best solution for them,
- follow-up questions at the meeting,
- naturally leads the conversation
- and better instils confidence in the client.
Active listening is a skill that must be practiced. If you have the opportunity, practice with teammates or go to practice.
2. Building relationships
If the client never contacts the merchant again after paying the invoice, that's too bad. The merchant should maintain good relations with clients because:
- the client may require additional solutions in the future,
- a good relationship increases the likelihood that the client will recommend the company further,
- the larger the network of contacts, the greater the chance of new contacts.
The trader should contact the clients from time to time at reasonable intervals and ask them how they are doing, what is new with them and how satisfied they are with the solution. This will let the client know that the firm is not just trying to get money from them, but is interested in whether the solution is actually helping them.
We recommend building relationships not only with clients, but also with all professionals in the industry. If they know the name of the vendor, it increases the chances that they will contact them when they or their friends need a suitable solution. Most salespeople today use LinkedIn to build a network of contacts.
3. Knowledge of the product
It sounds like a given, but in practice some managers still think they can send a new salesperson to a sales meeting right away, even if they've never sold a similar product before. But even the most charismatic salesperson in the world won't succeed without knowing the product - if they don't know much about it, they have nothing to sell.
Product incorporation should be managed by the sales manager who performs the dealer incorporation. He or she should prepare a detailed product manual for salespeople, regularly update them on new product developments and organise regular product training sessions - for junior and senior salespeople.
As a salesperson, if you feel that you don't have enough knowledge about a product, talk to your manager about it.
4. Art of conversation
A salesperson doesn't have to be an extrovert, but they do need to be able to have meaningful sales conversations and small talk. In addition to the above active listening, they should also:
- should have spoken concisely and clearly,
- it should be to the point and not repetitive,
- not lecture the other person,
- not to jump in,
- and shouldn't be afraid to admit he doesn't know something.
Although the client should do most of the talking in a sales meeting, the salesperson actively manages the conversation. He has control over its direction, length and meaningfulness.
The art of conversation can only be mastered by a salesperson through training. It's not enough to just talk to people regularly, but you need to actively think and reflect on conversations (not just sales conversations).
5. Strategic evaluation
Every company, whether it is a corporation or a start-up, should have a well-defined business process - that is, a roadmap for salespeople to follow when dealing with business cases. However, the trader must be able to judge for himself which solution is best in a particular business situation.
Among other things, they must decide:
- whether the potential customer is relevant and corresponds to the ideal customer,
- whether the product or service actually helps the customer,
- what solution to offer the customer,
- whether it makes sense to approach the customer with another offer.
The ability to make the right decision in similar situations depends on experience. If you are younger, we encourage you to find a mentor and share your experiences with other marketers at work, at networking events or online. Self-study will also help significantly - the more you read about sales, the more ammunition you'll have for your regular practice.