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10 Soft Skills You Need to Master to Become a Great Salesperson in 2023

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Soft Sales Skills: The Key to Success in Modern Selling

In this day and age of modern selling, technology has brought together product and service information at consumers' fingertips.

Possessing basic knowledge about technology can help consumers quickly Google the lowest price of a product, and the ingredients of a product, watch YouTube videos to understand the features and their corresponding benefits and browse through customer reviews.

This raises the question - what role does the sales team actually play?

But, read a little further, and you'll discover that the role of a sales team plays a huge role! It's however, now, softer than before.

But, what are soft sales skills?

According to the Macmillan Dictionary, a soft skill is any skill that enables someone to work well with other people.

For instance, dressing appropriately for the job is considered a skill.

Despite what some people say, the ability to learn a particular set of skills can be taught. It isn't an innate ability that only specific people naturally relate with. On the contrary, there's an entire industry of high-priced consultants, books, webinars, sales gurus, influencers, and an endless stream of articles built around teaching these soft sales skills.

While the list of soft skills may be exhaustive, focusing on the right ones will help you move forward.

In this blog, we'll discuss -

  1. What are soft sales skills and why do you need them?
  2. 3 primary buckets of selling in sales
  3. 10 powerful sales skills every salesperson must master to become a great sales rep in 2022
  4. Soft selling vs hard selling

Let's begin.

What are Soft Sales Skills and Why Do You Need them?

Soft skills in sales are a set of communication skills that must be built on an interpersonal and intrapersonal foundation that can help a salesperson empathize and connect with their potential customer.

These skills, when acquired, can also help sales reps work more efficiently and achieve their maximum potential in their sales role.

The soft selling process, in a manner, is related to soft sales skills. It involves a strategy that prioritizes the quality of relationship building with your prospects over how quickly you can make a sale.

The term "soft skills" refers to non-technical knowledge relevant to the way people work.

"Soft skills include the personal attributes, personality traits, and communication abilities needed for success on the job. Soft skills characterize how a person interacts in their relationships with others."

Why Do You Need Soft Sales Skills?

Sales reps can possess technical skills and know the product/service inside-out, but the inability to build a rapport with the leads could lead to deals not going through.

This is where sales teams who emphasize on soft skills that complement the hard selling skills tend to build long term relationships with the leads, and ensure long-term success.

Soft skills training includes communication skills, intrapersonal interaction, time management, listening skills, empathy, and kindness. As a result, high-performing salespeople develop these sales skills to complement their job-specific and technical abilities learned to progress further.

Often, in a sales organization, these skills are overlooked.

Self-awareness, confidence, team performance, and communication methods are all critical leadership qualities that, unfortunately, get diminished when referred to as "soft."

Incorporating soft skills training courses for sales teams is a wise decision if you want your sales metrics to skyrocket.

With this breakthrough, sales leaders can better grasp an individual sales rep's performance, areas they can improve, and how the entire sales team can learn from one another.

3 Primary Buckets of Selling in Sales

So, what sales skills do you need to be a successful salesperson?

Although there are several types of transferable sales skills, we will focus on three primary skill sets -

  1. Basic sales skills
  2. Soft sales skills
  3. Hard sales skills

Here's a quick overview of what these skills entail -

1. Basic Sales Skills

Basic sales skills include skills every salesperson must be acclimatized with - they're fundamental and relatively simple.

Some examples of basic sales skills include a sales rep's ability to -

  • Remember product knowledge
  • Follow sales processes and sales cycle
  • Communicate well with customers

Although these skills may seem exceptionally simple, some sales reps overlook them. Unfortunately, you cannot succeed without them in the sales world.

2. Soft Sales Skills

Soft skills for sales reps include possessing non-technical, non-quantifiable skills that have an equal, if not greater impact than other sales skills.

Examples of soft skills include -

  • Critical thinking
  • Teamwork
  • Empathy
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Good communication skills

Relationship building with customers can go a long way and boost closing sales numbers.

In an increasingly virtual world, imbibing these skills are even more critical. With face-to-face interactions moving online, it's much easier for prospects to disengage and build rapport.

3. Hard Sales Skills

Hard skills of successful salespeople refer to the entire set of "teachable" skills, such as industry knowledge, knowing their way around sales tools, and more an employee can learn through their organization's technical training and education.

For instance, if you are selling a customer relationship management software (CRM), the set of hard skills a salesperson should include -

  • Perfecting sales demos
  • Sales forecast and its measurement for a particular client
  • Overcoming objections by reframing the value propositions

Although hard skills can be easily taught, they need to be practiced.

10 Powerful Sales Soft Skills you Need to Become a Successful Salesperson in 2023

Now that you are more familiar with the different types of sales skills a salesperson should have, let's address the question,

"What specific set of sales skills should a salesperson must have?"

Here is the ten most important soft skills successful salespeople must learn -

  1. Empathy
  2. Active listening 
  3. Growth mindset
  4. Adaptability 
  5. Resilience 
  6. Time management 
  7. Good communication skills
  8. Emotional intelligence 
  9. Problem solving 
  10. Persuasion 

#1 Empathy

To be a successful sales professional, it is absolutely essential to be able to put yourself in another person's shoes.

Having empathy is one of the key soft skills required to help steer talks in a positive direction.

With empathy, you can identify a potential customer's pain points, motivation, fears, desires, and more to give you a notion of when you should push forward and when you should hold back.

Above all, empathy serves in the development to build meaningful relationships with potential customers.

Even if they may not be able to recall everything you said, they will never forget how you made them feel. In the sales world, the last thing you need is for a customer to feel being taken advantage of, or as if you aren't looking out for their best interests.

Always let your customers know that you are on their side because ultimately, customer success is your success.

#2 Active Listening

The easiest way to make a sale is to understand and learn everything your potential customer needs.

How can you know what they want and need without possessing listening skills?

Simple, you listen to them.

Sometimes, in a rush to close deals, you attempt to oversell your product or service because you're pressed for time. So, it's easy to slip into the habit of badgering your customers from buying your product and taking off their ears till they nod.

However, that will have a negative impact on not just your organization, but also on you, as a salesperson.

Instead, concentrate on paying your full attention to your prospects. They often tell you their pain points, struggles, and windows of opportunities openly, if you just listen to them.

Ask relevant and important questions to unravel deeper issues and direct the conversation in a way that benefits you with all the vital information you need, but avoid taking over.

#3 Growth Mindset

Great salespeople are seldom satisfied.

They want to improve themselves to grow better mentally, professionally, and spiritually.

People with a growth mindset believe that hard work will help them achieve their full potential, whereas people with a fixed mindset believe their skills are innate and cannot be improved.

As we mentioned at the beginning of this blog, skills are not innate, as some people believe it to be.

Those with a growth mindset are often more successful and for good reasons.

Fortunately, you too can develop a growth mindset if you do not already have one -

  • Change your relationship with failure
  • Embrace failures to view them as great learning experiences
  • Use the word yet more often rather than no

Developing these skills will help you build a growth mindset that will serve you well in sales.

#4 Adaptability

Having a sales team capable of adapting to new changes at work is extremely valuable to any organization.

But, in sales, it's critical.

With the sales world constantly evolving, sales reps are constantly trying to keep up.

If you thrive on routine and predictability, you're highly unlikely to become successful. One of the most interesting aspects of the sales world is the ability to meet all sorts of new people under unique circumstances.

It takes adaptability to roll with the changes and punches.

Additionally, buyers are way more intelligent than they were in 2001 - what worked then will almost certainly not work in 2022.

Develop adaptability by having an open mind and implementing regular feedback and recommendations to be in better shape.

#5 Develop Resilience

"No, thanks, maybe not this time. We don't have the budget."

These words are painfully familiar for most sales reps. When rejection takes a toll on you, it alone can be sufficient to change courses for even the best sales reps and consider a career change.

The only way to keep pushing sales professionals going forward is to build their resilience.

Teaching resilience is to assist your sales teams to learn a way to bounce back from rejection. Resilient people always stay positive, do not take a "no" personally, and view failures as opportunities for growth.

To help your sales team develop resilience, pair them up with a supportive mentor who coaches them to arise into a growth mindset, manage emotions, build relationships, and other important sales soft skills to excel as a sales professional.

#6 Time Management

According to a 2018 Forbes study that surveyed 721 respondents, sales reps spend about 35.2% of their total time actually selling, and the remaining 65% doing everything else.

With this being their unswerving position, it's practically impossible to hit their sales quotas without working for 60+ hours in a week. This not only increases the chances of burnout but also quickly demotivates them.

Time is the most valuable asset. The feeling of wasted time can be incredibly disappointing, especially when money is involved and does not display any progress in the process.

To master this soft skill, as a sales organization, you must invest in the right sales tools.

Lack of time management skills is likely not a deliberate behavior of your sales team; rather, it's due to a lack of access to the right resources and a passive habit.

Leverage an intelligent sales tool such as Salesken and a CRM software to automate the most redundant tasks to free up time, so sales reps can actually focus on making a sale, rather than spending their time doing administrative tasks.

To become a top-level sales professional, it is vital to becoming a time management expert. Luckily, it's all possible to do with a myriad of sales tools available at your disposal!

#7 Good Communication Skills

The best sales professionals are exceptional communicators.

As a customer, are you likely to purchase a product from someone who struggles to communicate or someone who can effectively pitch their product?

Answer: It's the latter.

Regardless of virtual or in-person calls, both verbal and non-verbal communication are key soft skills for sales professionals to master.

When it comes to verbal communication, it is not always about what you say, it's how you say it. Clear communication is all about finding out ways that engage your client to the fullest.

Some best practices to follow are -

  • Speaking clearly and slowly with the correct pronunciations.
  • Pausing periodically to ask questions. Put active listening to good use here.
  • Use phrases and words your potential customer is familiar with.

Asking the right questions is also a valuable way of finding answers to your questions and makes the interaction easy.

When it comes to non-verbal communication, how you conduct yourself during sales calls goes a long way to closing sales deals.

Here are some best practices to follow -

  • Great posture
  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Silent acknowledgment
  • Self confidence
  • Regulate emotions

In conclusion, good non-verbal cues and verbal communication skills indicate that you are genuinely interested and engaged in the conversation, and not just their sale.

#8 Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence allows you to understand and appreciate how others are feeling and learn how to manage your own emotions.

People with high emotional intelligence can naturally relate to others and consider your advice if you are emotionally knowledgeable.

Emotional intelligence is categorized into four groups -

  1. Using emotions: The ability to leverage emotions with a myriad of cognitive tasks such as thinking and problem solving knows how to take maximum advantage of changing moods to best suit them.
  2. Perceiving emotions: The ability to uncover and decipher emotions from faces, tone of voice, photographs, and conversations, including your own emotions is the most fundamental part of emotional intelligence since it authorizes all emotional information processing.
  3. Understanding emotions: The ability to decipher emotion language and comprehend complex emotional relationships and be able to describe how emotions evolve.
  4. Managing emotions: The ability to control our own and others' emotions. Ergo, an individual with high emotional intelligence can control their emotions to reach their goals and attain their objectives.

Emotional intelligence is a highly valuable soft skill to possess in both your professional and personal life. With this, you can easily determine how to proceed during a sales call, even the unpleasant ones.

#9 Problem Solving

One of the greatest challenges in the sales world is that of the mindset.

Where old, seasoned sellers convinced their users to buy a product, today's sales professionals should see it as a way of problem solving.

This insinuates working toward a result that is less about making the sale and more about eradicating, or minimizing the barriers between your customer and you, and providing the best solutions.

Problem solving is a long-term commitment that helps the customer perceive you as someone genuine and realizes that you place their needs above yours. That primacy will always show to customers, thus resulting in building rapport and meaningful relationships that set you up for long-term wins.

#10 Persuasion

When it comes to possessing the most critical sales soft skills for sales professionals, persuasion is rather an important one.

Persuasion, as misconstrued by people, is not the "art of pushing." It is in fact, the art of influencing customers to do what's best in their own interest, which would also benefit your organization.

For instance, a portfolio manager helping a customer to find the best investment plans for their needs not only earns them a commission but, also sets them for customer success.

Learners can quickly acquire this sales soft skill with easy sales training by leveraging various mediums available such as an online course, company certification, and more.

Soft Selling Vs Hard Selling: What is it?

The simplest difference between soft sell is that a hard sell is a direct, short-term sell whereas a soft sell is an indirect, long-term sell.

Although most sales leaders recommend soft selling, the truth is, that there is room for both approaches to thrive, depending on your situation.

What is Hard Selling?

Hard selling is a sales tactic that leverages a straightforward sales process to create quick sales.

Sales and marketing teams use it to convince potential customers to make a purchase immediately. Hard selling often includes the following strategies -

  • Urgent needs: Focusing on the customer's immediate needs and requirements creates a sense of urgency. This often makes it easier to convince the prospects that buying your products will resolve their challenges.
  • Quantity over quality: Hard selling emphasizes sales quantity than quality, or in short, long-term relationships. After they close a deal, a hard selling sales rep often immediately searches for their next customer.
  • Quick thinking: Hard selling doesn't always follow a stringent sales process. This, as a result, allows sales professionals to improvise their strategies with each customer.
  • Impulse buying: Giving potential customers little to no time to think about an offer can cause them to act out of impulse and purchase your product. It also prevents them from researching your competitors.

What is Soft Selling?

Soft selling is a type of sales tactic that uses conversational and intrapersonal strategies to build rapport and long-lasting customer relationships. It enables sales and marketing teams to learn the user journey, background, and stages of the buyer journey.

Soft selling often includes the following strategies -

  • Active listening: Sales professionals focus on relationship building with customers by asking them appropriate questions and responding in a way that customers feel they are heard.
  • Thorough research: Sales organizations that focus on soft selling want their sales and marketing teams to analyze and learn about every customer's pain points and needs. As a result, they often conduct exhaustive research about specific characteristics of their target audiences.
  • Positive interactions: Building long-term relationships with customers helps you focus on their needs, desires, and challenges. This also helps in forming an innate bond with them, ultimately helping you to accomplish more.
  • Repeat sales: Soft selling prioritizes potential sales over immediate purchases. This lets you carefully craft a sales pitch that the customer can relate to, and give them time to think about it to make a better decision.

Implement Effective Sales Soft Skills to Strengthen your Sales Team's Performance

While some sales teams come locked and loaded with loads of raw talent to become successful professionals, others need a little bit of hand-holding and assistance with their approach.

Sales soft skills are often the primary distinction between an average sales rep and top performers. Fortunately, as long as you inculcate a growth mindset and always looking to improve yourself and others around you, you can develop soft skills and turn yourself into a deal-closing machine.

To put it simply, sales soft skills are the key factor to becoming a sales rockstar.

Salesken helps sales professionals and sales managers to enhance their "sales readiness" with real-time coaching and learning. To be a part of this bandwagon and jump into the Salesken magic, book a demo with one of our experts today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the skills of a good salesperson?
  • Empathy
  • Active listening
  • Effective communication
  • Confidence
  • Flexibility
  • Growth mindset
  • Product knowledge
  • Emotional intelligence
What are the 6 most important skills of a great sales rep?
  • Product knowledge
  • Strategic prospecting
  • Active listening
  • Business acumen
  • Negotiating skills
  • Great communication
What is an example of soft skills?

Soft skills also called people skills, are a mix of social selling and interpersonal skills, professional attitudes, and character traits that all jobs require. Teamwork, patience, communication, empathy, time management, and more are all just basic examples of soft skills.

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