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7 Critical Skills Every Sales Professional Should Master

When it comes to winning trust and initiating long lasting professional relationships with clients, many sales professionals are facing an uphill battle. The reason is obvious. With the advent of the internet, the buyer’s habits, needs and expectations have changed dramatically. What’s more, competition among vendors continues to heat up, raising the stakes even higher and putting enormous pressure on today’s sales reps. When traditional sales strategies no longer have the same impact, every sales professional should upgrade their approach, embrace new selling skills, and adapt to tougher demands.

Let’s take a look at the seven most essential skills every seller should develop. Sales professionals who put these skills to use are more likely to get ahead and prove their worth to their customers and their organization.

1. Listen carefully and patiently to each client

The importance of active listening cannot be overstated. It’s a skill that is hard to master, but can be acquired and developed with practice. If you make a conscious effort to understand what your prospects are saying and let them open up about their biggest concerns, you are more likely to win trust and start off a new relationship on the right foot.

Don’t try to fake interest. Most people will sense insincerity through your body language and, eventually, cross you off their list. Listen patiently and listen attentively. Be authentic and show genuine interest in each individual. Simply put, active listening is not any less significant than talking (no matter how eloquent or persuasive you are). Besides, if you pay careful attention to your buyers’ words, expressions and emotions, you can use these clues to provide meaningful feedback and offer customized solutions during your subsequent encounters.

2. Mirror your prospects during your sales meetings

One of the best ways to connect with your prospect is to mirror his or her manners, communication style and pace of speech. This psychological approach will help you put your customer at ease and build rapport faster. You are more likely to hit it off if you are on the same page, have something in common and share the same communication style. Once initial connection is established, the potential buyer will be better prepared to let you into their world, open up and reveal some of the most crucial details about their organization, needs and challenges.

3. Learn how to manage your time effectively

As a busy sales professional determined to win more customers, you have to learn how to maximize your time and make every minute count. Don’t waste your time on dead-end deals, and don’t pursue or follow-up with prospects who are not in the market for your services. Instead, learn how to “prequalify” your leads and make judgments about potential buyers based on analytical data (i.e. company size, annual revenue, industry vertical, growth potential, etc.)

In addition, you should develop a solid action plan prior to each meeting, clearly identify your objectives, and find ways to advance the sales process. Take the time to reflect on your sales and follow-up strategy and outline potential responses to challenging situations. Sometimes, the best way to save time is to cut your losses and move on to bigger and better opportunities.

4. Familiarize yourself with every aspect of your products or services

When it comes to sales, knowledge is power. As a hardworking sales professional, you should not only learn as much as possible about each prospect, but also familiarize yourself with the product you are trying to sell. It is critical to know how it works, what it can or cannot do, the main benefits it provides, and how it is going to transform the buyer’s business. Look at your product from different angles, compare it to similar products, anticipate potential concerns and outline specific responses to each question. Only after familiarizing yourself with all the details and nuances of your product and learning about its true value, will you be able to conquer your next meeting and generate great results for your company.

5. Control your body language

Many experts maintain that only 7% of communication is verbal and 93% is non-verbal. With that in mind, you have to control your body language and your manners, as well as the tone, diction and inflection of your voice. During a face-to-face meeting with a buyer, a polished appearance, good handshake and steady eye contact can also make a difference and influence the outcome. Additionally, good posture and a positive energy coming from a sales person are equally important.

6. Learn how to handle objections

As you know, sales resistance is an integral part of the selling process. Therefore, it is essential that you put yourself into your prospect’s shoes and anticipate potential objections. With so many choices at their doorstep, they take longer to review different alternatives and make purchasing decisions. By asking probing questions and encouraging them to speak up, you will be better equipped to deliver tailored solutions, diffuse their concerns and gain their commitment and trust. It is important to keep in mind that emotions oftentimes precede logic during the sales process. In an effort to mitigate objections, you should not only learn how to communicate your points clearly and concisely but also learn how to tell a story and make your product more appealing.

7. Find the right time to close the deal

When it comes to closing, time is of the essence. Being too pushy may turn potential prospects off, while failure to close the deal at the right time may result in missed opportunity. Oftentimes, you have to rely on your instincts or carefully observe your prospect’s buying signals. If you are convinced that you covered all the bases and your client fully understands the value and importance of your offering, it may be a good time to start closing and drive the deal to completion.