20 Important Sales Skills and How You Can Develop Them

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 8 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Sales jobs require a specific skill set that facilitates identifying sales opportunities, building a rapport with customers and successfully closing sales. Since many sales professionals earn a commission on their sales, there are often immediate monetary benefits to improving your sales skills. Understanding which skill sets to focus on can help you strengthen your CV and improve your professional outcomes. In this article, we discuss the most important skills in sales, including hard skills, soft skills and core skills of a salesperson.

What are sales skills?

Sales skills are the key abilities that equip sales professionals to successfully communicate with customers and close sales. Salespeople with strong skills in this area are best equipped to meet or even exceed their quotas. While some skills, such as communication, come naturally to certain individuals, others, like product knowledge, usually require development. You can improve upon these skills with a mindful approach to honing these abilities.

Related: 10 Best Skills To Include on a CV

What are soft skills in sales?

Soft skills in sales are a set of intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies that can help a salesperson communicate with and relate to others. These soft skills can help salespeople work more efficiently. They can also help individuals achieve their full potential in a sales role.

What are hard skills in sales?

Hard skills in sales are technical and formal abilities. You can usually learn these skills from workplaces and academic institutions. You can also develop them by taking training courses, seminars and workshops and talking to mentors.

What are the three core skills of a salesperson?

Here are the three core skills of salespeople:

  • Passion: Successful salespeople are passionate about what they do and demonstrate a drive to continually advance their service or product.

  • Emotional intelligence: Having strong emotional intelligence allows you to sense, understand and apply the power of your own emotions effectively during interactions with clients to improve sales.

  • Problem-solving: As a sales professional, it's important to have strong problem-solving skills in order to determine what the bottom line price could be for a service or product to be profitable. These skills allow you to think about how you can best frame your service or product in the broader market to attain maximum sales.

Top 20 important skills in sales

Understanding the essential sales job skills that can help you connect with clients and close deals is key in this competitive industry. Developing the following skills can help you make a good impression on clients and improve your outcomes in any type of conversation:

1. Active listening

Active listening refers to your ability to hear and comprehend what your customer tells you. If you're an active listener, you assess both what the customer said and implied. You give the speaker time to share their ideas and respond to the specific points that they have mentioned instead of giving them a generic answer that may or may not apply to what they said.

2. Empathy

Empathy refers to your ability to relate to another person emotionally. When you show empathy, you think of what it would feel like to be in the customers' situation. Sales professionals who are emphatic can place themselves in the customer's position and think of personalised solutions from that point of reference to solve their unique issues.

3. Communication

An effective sales professional can clearly communicate with others, both in writing and verbally. They are good at choosing the most effective words during a conversation. They can also write and speak in a way that's both informative and easily to understand.

4. Objection management

Good sales professionals are good at managing objections from clients. It's important that you know how to soften an objection, identify the root cause of the issue and discard surrounding issues that are subsequent to the main problem.

5. Negotiation

Negotiations usually take place before you close a sale. Negotiation skills allow you to offer deals from which both you and your clients can benefit. If you have strong negotiation skills, you're good at assessing the customer's position and determining how you can get the most value from the sale.

6. Sales motivation

As a sales professional, it's important to have diligence and self-motivation. While a career in sales can present both ups and downs, a salesperson maintains a steady forward motion. They work as hard after a huge sale as they do after losing clients.

7. Product knowledge

It's also important to be knowledgeable about the services or products that you're selling. It's important to know the benefits and drawbacks of each product or service. This way, you can make informed recommendations based on a customer's needs.

8. Prospecting

Prospecting skills allow you to identify opportunities for new leads. These skills usually involve networking with people. It also involves evaluating their needs effectively to determine which among them can greatly benefit from the services or products that you offer.

9. Time management

An effective sales professional constantly evaluate their time constraints. They strive to close sales as fast as possible without rushing the clients. Strong time management allows you to make the best use of your available time.

Related: How To Make Time for Self-Care While Working from Home

10. Analytical skill

To learn every detail about the service or product your employer sells, it's important to have strong analytical skills. Having in-depth knowledge can help boost your sales, as you can easily explain how your service or product works. Analytical skills can also help you find out exactly what a client is looking for, so you can provide the best service or product to improve their life.

11. Optimism

Working in sales may require overcoming some client objections and sometimes rejections, but it's important to remain optimistic. Clients love salespeople who are positive, so they are more likely to return to the company and become regular clients.

12. Leadership

As a sales professional, you often work independently with clients, providing one-on-one sales advice. Thus, it's important to take the lead and show clients you're confident about the service or product you're selling. Strong leadership skills may come naturally to some salespeople, but you can improve or develop them, even if leadership skills don't come naturally to you.

13. Integrity

Companies rely on their sales team to leave a positive impression on clients. To do this, it's important to have integrity. Being transparent and honest with clients can show them you care about their needs. It helps maintain a positive image for the company and can encourage clients to keep doing business with you.

14. Public speaking

As a sales professional, you're in constant communication with people and usually conduct presentations or demonstrations. If you have confidence, customers are more likely to buy from you. Thus, having strong public speaking skills can help boost your confidence and sales.

15. Organisation

Working in sales often involves managing multiple accounts, so it's important to have strong organisational skills. Excellent organisation skills allow you to use your resources effectively and efficiently. Your ability to find and share information quickly with customers can make the difference between losing a client and making a sale.

16. Customer relationship management

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a concept in sales. It refers to your ability to guide clients along with all phases of the sales process, successfully close a sale and then gain repeat purchases. This skill demonstrates your understanding of the sales cycle and the ability to follow through with a sale.

17. Project management

Project management skills are the traits and competencies you need in order to effectively coordinate a project from start to finish. Individuals who are skilled at project management are good at communicating with others and coordinating tasks, which are two important duties for a sales professional. This is especially important if you want to advance to a leadership role within the company's sales department.

Related: 15 Project Management Skills Every Manager Should Have

18. Storytelling

Storytelling is a distinct skill, as it requires you to be concise, clear, authentic and engaging. Giving an authentic story during the sales process can help you stand out in your clients' minds. It can also appeal to the client's emotions and encourage them to take action.

19. Social selling

It's important to understand what's acceptable for engaging potential clients on social media. Make sure you don't copy and paste your sales pitch into every direct message several times a day. Personalised outreach combined with a steady presence is critical.

20. Research skills

It's important to familiarise yourself with different buyers and to develop a deep understanding of the competitive landscape. Through effective research, you can better determine potential sales triggers. You can also find individuals who are more likely to purchase what you're selling.

How to improve skills needed for sales

Here are some steps you can take to improve your sales skill:

  1. Mirror your prospect's tone and language. The way you say something is as important as the message you're delivering. Copy the tone and phrasing of your client to improve your communication.

  2. Take notes as you're listening. You can improve your active listening skills by taking notes as the client speaks, so you can remember to address all their key questions and concerns.

  3. Research prospects. Use any available data to evaluate and understand prospects before your initial call. Gather information from previous communications, online interest forms or the client's website so you're familiar with their potential needs.

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