Soft Skills in Sales – Introduction:
Soft Skills are personal attributes that drive an individual’s interactions, increase job performance and brighten their career prospects. It is very essential for every Sales Person to develop Soft Skills in Sales.
Soft Skills in Sales
The following are the 10 Essential Soft Skills in Sales Every Salesperson Needs
- Communication and listening skills
- Knowledge Possession
- Sales presentation skills
- Flexibility and adaptability
- Cooperative skills
- Honest and Ethical behavior
- Time management skills
- Follow up skill
- Technology skills
Benefits of Soft Skills in Sales:
The following are the benefits of each Soft Skills in Sales
- Communication and listening skills – Enhance customer knowledge, trust, persuasion power and hence closing sale.
- Knowledge Possession – Customer, product, competitors, and market knowledge enhance self-confidence as well as facilitate selling process.
- Sales presentation skills – Enhance sales Flexibility and adaptability Effective sales presentation
- Empathy – Facilitate communication
- Cooperative skills – Improve teamwork and sales performance
- Honest and Ethical behavior – Build trust and good brand image
- Time management skills – Enhancing individual job performance
- Follow up skill – Increase customer retention
- Technology skills– Enhance knowledge possession and strengthen customer relationship
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10 Essential Soft Skills in Sales Every Salesperson Needs:
Now, let’s see in detail about each Soft Skills in Sales:
Communication and Listening Skills
- Communication Skills in Sales refer to the ability to show appropriate and effective verbal and nonverbal communication behavior in a certain context.
- Listening in the sales context is defined as “the cognitive process of actively sensing, interpreting, evaluating and responding to verbal and nonverbal messages of present or potential customers”.
- Both managers and representatives considered communication and listening skills as the primary important skills of an effective salesperson. Equipped with an effective interpersonal listening ability, the sales representative acquires perceptions required for an adaptive selling behavior, which is favorable for sales performance.
- In fact, with a suitable communication competency an effective interaction occurs, the salesperson can stimulate consumers’ interest and persuade them to buy products and services.
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- Salesperson’s empathy is considered as a personality trait and it is defined as ” the perception on the part of a buyer that a significant other demonstrates that they both feel and think about that buyer’s situation.
- Sales representative empathy contributes toward the establishment of a trust level that affect the customer relationship, and consequently the sales performance.
- In fact, as customers acquire product experience an empathetic attitude become less important. Empathy has a significant effect on trust when customers are in the early stages of buying process
Honest and Ethical Behavior
- Sales professionals interviewed agreed on the importance of the honesty and ethical attitude as related to interactions between sales representatives and their customers.
- There will be a positive impact of salespeople’s ethical behavior on brand image and on trust establishment.
- In addition, the product brand image and the corporate image perceived by customers are shaped by interactions experienced with the company salespersons.
- Hence, the sales force ethical behavior is considered as an antecedent of the brand image as well as of the corporate reputation
- Based on the interviews analysis, sales managers and salespeople stressed on the importance of sales representative social skills that promote social interaction within the organization.
- Despite that manager conferred a greater importance to cooperative behavior than sales representatives, they completely agreed with them that team work skills are mandatory to create a more congenial work environment, reduce conflicts, and therefore reach a better salesperson performance.
- Accordingly, the salesperson cooperation was perceived as important for a good sales performance. This finding is supported by the sales literature.
Sales Presentation Skills
- The sales presentation skills include skills that ensure an effective personal selling process and contribute to salesperson job performance. The sales presentation represents a series of inter-related steps commonly used to interact with and persuade customers.
- Despite that the earlier researches have observed the use of sales presentation skills is broadly relevant and uniform across industries, products and sales situations in the present study salespeople and sales managers conferred specific attention to some selling process’ steps namely the negotiation, the questioning, the dealing with objections, and the closing.
- Moreover, sales professionals reported that these sales presentation skills are mandatory for sales success and they have conjointly positioned them third as important skills of an effective salesperson.
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Flexibility and Adaptability
- From the sales representative’s opinion, the adaptability and flexibility hold the fourth place of important skills of an effective salesperson, while according sales managers perspective these skills occupy the fifth position.
- During the interviews, the sales professionals specified that the salespersons’ ability to personalize selling techniques and communication style improve their flexibility in sales situations and with various consumers personalities.
- Hence, sales professionals established a clear linkage among adaptive sales behaviors and sales presentation effectiveness.
- The sales representative ability to decrypt perceived information during customer encounter constitute a basis for adaptive selling behavior. An adaptive selling behavior has a positive impact on sales outcome performance and in turn on sales organization effectiveness.
- During the interviews, only the sales managers raised out the follow-up after sale as an important skill of an effective salesperson and they gave it the same importance as the honest and ethical behavior.
- In fact, as discussed above, honesty as well as ethic attitude create trust on salesperson-consumer relationship, so this relation must be maintained by a strong follow-up.
- The follow-up is used essentially to provide reassurance that the purchase was the right one, hence it supports a long-term consumer relationship and the re-purchase intention.
- The phone calls and e-mails were the two techniques mentioned by the sales managers as efficient to keep lines of communication with clients, ensure after sale service and so enhance consumers retention.
- With advances in technology, websites and social media apps represent an interesting alternative to preserve an open dialogue with buyers. Accordingly, it is not surprising that sales managers claimed during their interviews that the salesperson should possess technology skills to perform efficiently they job tasks
- Technology Skills is important for salespersons as they should be Tech-savvy to gain knowledge, follow customers, and prospecting.
- In addition, the sales managers linked the technology skills possession to sales performance and they described how technology fits into salespeople-customers interactions, especially through social media apps.
- Technology’s influence on salespeople was largely discussed in the past studies and findings converge with the interviewee’s opinions. Sales technology literature focuses on sales–customer relationship management.
- Knowledge possession is an important skill of effective salespersons. Respondents defined knowledge possession in terms of product knowledge, customer knowledge, market knowledge, and competitors’ knowledge. Salespeople knowledge develops a self-confidence facilitating the communication process and building trust with customers.
- Therefore, it is clear that sales professionals believe that salesperson knowledge possession should not be only restricted to technical information, but should also comprise a thorough understanding of micro and macro environment essential for sales effectiveness.
- The knowledge possession either technical or marketing contributes favorably to the salesperson performance. While, the technical knowledge expresses expertise level in product and service, the marketing one need technology skills.
Time Management Skills
- The time management skills, considered as essential to an effective salesperson, there appears to be less entente as to the level of its importance.
- From the interviewed sales professionals’ quotations, it raised that an effective time management is a prerequisite to success in sales because it allows them to work smarter.
- According the sales representatives and sales managers perspectives, the time management skills include competences in the management of the customer wait time and those related to the sales’ activities that lead to high sales performance.
- This result is in coherence with literature where engaging time management behaviors is beneficial to the job performance of sales personnel
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Thus, by developing the above Essential Soft Skills in Sales one can become a Successful Salesperson.
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