How To Improve Your Sales Skills: A Step-By-Step Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 July 2022

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.

While working in sales, you require specific skills to create successful interactions. These skills aid in developing long-standing customer relationships and persuading customers to buy a product or subscribe to a service. If you know how to improve your sales skills, you can use these techniques to boost your sales numbers and advance your career. In this article, we examine sales skills and their importance and provide a list of steps you can take to improve them.

What Are Sales Skills?

Sales skills are competencies that enable you to conduct successful sales interactions. These skills cover a wide range of areas, such as communication and customer relationship management. You can attract potential customers, build long-term relationships and conduct necessary negotiations to close a deal using a specific set of skills. Knowledge of the products you sell and the services a company provides may be a more technical competency in the domain of sales. You can increase your sales numbers and advance your career as you improve these skills.

How To Improve Your Sales Skills

You can improve your sales skills by following these steps:

1. Establish goals for yourself

Determine which areas you wish to improve upon and set specific and attainable goals. These goals can be behavioural, such as improving specific traits, or results-oriented, such as meeting a monthly sales target. For example, if you wish to improve your performance during sales calls, you might set a goal of making more calls per day to gain experience. After you have set goals, keep track of your progress and evaluate results. Success can inspire you to continue honing your skills. If you do not see any progress, it may be time to change your goals or your methodologies for achieving them.

2. Use training opportunities to your advantage

Commit to taking training opportunities in whatever form they present themselves to improve your skills. An employer may offer you opportunities to attend courses or training sessions. These courses and sessions typically aim to improve basic sales skills and feedback. You can also schedule a time during the day for independent training, such as for reading a sales skills book, attending a seminar or working with a private coach. Regularly participating in skill development opportunities keeps your competencies active, ensuring that you are ready for sales interactions.

3. Practice public speaking

During the sales cycle, you may perform various verbal communication tasks, such as giving presentations or providing product demonstrations. Taking the time to improve your public speaking skills can help you gain confidence in your ability to speak in front of customers and clients. You can join a group to practise public speaking or practise in front of a mirror on your own time. Review your body language, delivery style and the connection with an audience as you prepare for interactions. You can learn techniques to improve each of these elements and then use them every time you give a public speech or presentation.

Related: Types Of Public Speaking Skills And How To Improve Them

4. Conduct regular research

Regular research allows you to keep up with industry trends and changes. You can attend industry seminars and conferences and subscribe to or follow industry publications. When you share relevant knowledge with colleagues and customers, they may regard you as an expert they can rely on for advice and recommendations. It can also help you in anticipating customer questions and preparing responses that address their concerns.

5. Work on improving your listening skills

Listening to the client to understand their needs is essential for a successful sales interaction. Customers feel heard and valued when you use this technique and this can strengthen your professional relationships. You can gain insights for closing deals if you listen carefully. Active listening shows your involvement and your willingness to put a client or customer first. To ensure that you fully understand a customer's needs, ask clarifying questions. Other techniques include verbal affirmations and paraphrasing points to show comprehension.

6. Prepare to deal with objections

You may encounter objections during sales interactions, so be prepared to handle them effectively. Prepare a list of potential customer issues and draft responses for each one before interactions. Having answers ready demonstrates both your preparation for the conversation and your knowledge of the product or service.

7. Think from a customer's perspective

Empathy is essential in sales because a successful sale involves considering a customer's needs. To gain a better understanding of a customer, do some research on the preferences of their user or demographic group. Think about yourself as a customer as you prepare for conversations and develop your pitch. Consider what might motivate you to purchase a product. Identifying customers' problems and explaining how the product solves them can persuade individuals to invest in the product.

Sales Skills In The Workplace

Successful salespeople have charismatic personalities and can communicate effectively with a large group of people. Use these tips to demonstrate your skills at work:

  • Accept new challenges. Be open to new challenges and view them as opportunities for learning and growth. To show a strong work ethic and your value as an employee, always strive to do better than before.

  • Concentrate on teamwork. Encourage others and congratulate them on their accomplishments. This builds trust and emphasises the importance of teamwork.

  • Accept accountability. Volunteer for extra tasks at work, especially if you wish to advance your career. Accept credit for your achievements, but also acknowledge your failures and use them to improve.

  • Network. Build a strong network of support at work by collaborating with others and genuinely caring about them. The chances of success increase when different departments and individuals work together towards a common goal.

Examples Of Sales Skills

A basic understanding of sales skills can help you connect with customers and assist them in making a quality purchase that meets their needs. To better understand the skills required for sales, consider reviewing this list:

Active listening

Active listening is a crucial sales skill for success in any competitive sales-based industry. Strong listeners are often good communicators. Maintain eye contact with clients while keeping an open body posture, smiling and nodding when appropriate and asking questions to ensure understanding.

Related: Active Listening Skills: Definition And Examples

Positivity

An optimistic sales approach creates a positive work environment and helps in forming solid, respectful relationships with clients and colleagues. Show gratitude for a person's time by smiling invitingly, being approachable and having genuine interactions with others. This is a professional consideration that builds respect and helps customers trust your expertise and knowledge.

Critical thinking

When working with clients to resolve issues and manage conflict, critical thinking is a useful sales skill. Skilled salespeople can pinpoint a client's major objections to closing a sale, devise creative solutions to overcome the roadblocks and lead clients to a reasonable solution. Observation, analysis, reflection, evaluation, explanation, problem-solving and decision making are just a few of the skills involved in critical thinking.

Adaptability

Adaptability is a soft skill that employers find desirable when hiring candidates. Adjusting to change is a sales skill that demonstrates a growth mindset, which is valuable in today's job market. Customers' wants and needs usually change with time, so being able to adjust your sales approach or making suggestions to improve sales is critical to success.

Related: Adaptability: An Essential Skill For Changing Workplaces

Empathy

Empathy builds trust by validating others' feelings and ideas. When sales representatives focus on a customer's thought process and experience rather than the goal to close a sale, they gain a better understanding of the motivations that drive customers to buy products. They can then concentrate more clearly for resolving business issues.

Highlighting Sales Skills

Here are some ways to highlight sales skills:

Sales skills for cover letters

The cover letter that you send, along with a resume and job application, forms your first impression regarding the type of sales professional you are. Use a cover letter to highlight key features that correspond to the job description's roles and responsibilities for the position you are applying for. By using numerical data and providing statistical evidence of the progress your efforts made, provide crucial details regarding your achievements.

Sales skills for resumes

Your resume is a comprehensive record of your abilities, qualities and work experience. You can demonstrate your strong writing abilities with this document's well-organised information. Include bullet points and clear headlines to condense information about your employment history and sales skills.

Sales skills for a job interview

Use effective verbal communication skills during the job interview to display your sales skills by responding to questions directly, clearly and with relevant details. Interact with the hiring manager to show your passion for the industry by sharing your unique career story. Your commitment to continuous improvement can also motivate an employer to consider you for a sales position.

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