If you think that sales skills are exclusively the prerequisites of sales people, you could not be more wrong. Why? Because each of us, whatever field we are working in, is selling something sometime. You may need to sell an idea to management for a new project, to get more resources or even to adjust the time line on an existing project. Sales skills are necessary if you are in customer service functions, and let’s face it, every single person in an organization is involved with customer service, even if that is not your primary role.
If you are in a leadership role, you know the challenges of having a team. Having strong sales skills can often eliminate problems before they occur and can ease the communication path when they arise. Marketing departments use selling techniques in their materials to induce customers to buy. Ever try motivating someone to perform better, do something you want them to do or follow through and be accountable? Think about how you did this and what you said. I bet there was a lot of ‘selling’ happening.
In order to be successful, you have to sell your ideas and beliefs to all kinds of audiences and convert them totally. Hence, in order to be successful you should have, learn and nurture some basic sales skills.
What are those skills you should learn?
- Passion about what you are doing. People will never be sold on anything until they feel your passion in whatever you are selling. You should fully believe in what you are doing. This attribute always works wonders for passion, and inspires enthusiasm and trust. Whether you are asking for a promotion, selling a product, or trying to convince the team about a concept, your passion will be one of the strongest convincing factors.
- Confidence and humility. Have you ever seen a ‘know-it-all’ salesperson? Would you like to have a conversation with such a person? Of course not — it is irritating to have someone condescending talking to you. At the same time, you would not consider someone timid either. You need to strike a balance here where you come across as a confident person, yet humble enough to listen to what the other person says. A confident person inspires trust while humility builds relationships — both invaluable traits in professional associations.
- Ability to swim against the current. Very often certain concepts are not immediately accepted and recognized for their intrinsic value. In such cases, you are faced with strong opposition. An excellent sales trait here is the ability to swim against the current until you are able to get your point across. You need to be able to believe in yourself when all others around you — and often these are people who matter — say you are wrong.
- Perseverance. History is witness that many good ideas failed miserably in the beginning. Perseverance is another golden attribute that changes failure into success. You should develop a ‘never give up’ attitude, which is highly infectious in the long run, and which is bound to build a long list of admirers and followers.
- Bonding. Inter-personal relationships, networking, team building are all different types of bonding. This is a trait that should be cultivated carefully for bonding is what will promote you when you are at the peak or at the bottom.
- Listening skill. If there is one communication skill that we all should learn to do better it’s listening. This type of listening is to listen to understand, not to formulate your responses before they are finished or listening to convince the other person. You have to learn to listen to understand.
- Empathy. When someone has a problem or says no, instead of attempting to convince them they are wrong, have empathy. Ask questions to identify the situation as they see it. Empathy goes a long way towards building a bond.
- Think beyond the obvious. Great influencers are always thinking beyond what is right in front of them or what they are hearing from someone. What might they not be sharing? What are other possibilities not yet mentioned?
- Pack away your ego or need to be right. I often tell my clients what matters to me is that I get my needs met, and if I have to grovel or skin my needs to do that, my ego can take it. Who cares if you are right and they are wrong? Having a big ego or demonstrating you are always correct will never influence anyone.
We think of sales skills as abilities that only sales professionals need to learn. That is simply not true. As you look at the list, you will see that these include areas of expertise that not only can be further developed in all of us, but we all use each and every day as we interface with others. No matter what your role or areas of responsibility, learning and applying these competencies will help you get what you want more often.
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