How to Improve Your Sales Skills: Tips and Examples

Be the master of selling pens.

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

How to Improve Your Sales Skills

Being a successful sales rep is not an easy feat. From finding leads to making persuasive pitches to closing deals, there are various skills needed to meet numbers and outperform the competition.

If you are looking to become a better salesperson, then look no further. Below, we have compiled a detailed guide on the most important sales skills and the best tips to take your sales career to the next level.

What are sales skills?

Sales skills are a collection of hard and soft skills that can help you succeed as a sales rep. With them, you will be able to build rapport with clients, come up with persuasive sales pitches and close the deal on the products or services that you are selling.

Examples of sales skills

Sales skills consist of both interpersonal and technical abilities that are used throughout the sales process. Each of them is a valuable addition to your professional toolbox. They include:

  • Communication: Expressing yourself through verbal and written form plays a key role in presenting a convincing sales pitch to prospects.
  • Negotiation: To reach a deal, you must be able to negotiate terms that will suit both the buyer and seller.
  • Customer service: Assisting new and old customers effectively can ensure a recurring and happy clientele.
  • Business acumen: Making strategic decisions requires knowledge of the business and industry you are in.
  • Tech savviness: Knowing how to utilize new technologies can further your efforts and improve your sales.
  • Social selling: Using social media to connect potential buyers with your product or service can be a useful technique.
  • Prospecting: Knowing how to track down prospective customers is a crucial step in the sales cycle.
  • Closing: Mastering your closing techniques could make or break your entire sales pitch.
  • Product knowledge: Being familiar with the products or services that you are selling is vital.
  • Persuasiveness: To close a deal, you must know how to sway your clients by presenting a convincing case.
  • Active listening: Listening to a prospect’s concerns and feedback will allow you to gauge their needs more effectively and tailor your approach as a sales rep.
  • Relationship-building: It’s important to cultivate good relations with sellers to ensure repeat business and future collaborations.
  • Storytelling skills: To sell a product, you must be able to come up with a convincing narrative about it.
  • Public speaking: Being a confident communicator will play a key part when you are delivering your pitch to a prospect.
  • Adaptability: As a sales rep, you must expect the unexpected and be ready to switch up your approach if the original plan for your prospect does not pan out.

10 tips to improve your sales skills

There are several ways to become a successful salesperson. The following tips will help you take your sales career to the next level.

1. Upskill through training

A sales rep must always keep their skills sharpened, and the best way to do this is by actively taking advantage of available training opportunities and resources such as conferences, courses, workshops, and so on.

If your employer provides such upskilling opportunities to further make sure to seize them, but you should also devote time to developing your professional abilities independently too, as this will allow you to stand out and improve upon your existing skill set.

2. Practice roleplay

During a sales pitch, you need to be prepared for anything, from answering questions about the product or service to persuading an unsure prospect.

This is why roleplay can be a crucial step before a sales pitch, as it allows you to prepare for every scenario, practice your responses and ensure that your interaction with your prospect feels genuine.

3. Keep up with industry trends

Regardless which the industry you are in, you must stay informed about the latest trends, advancements and changes taking place within it. By doing so, you will be able to understand prospects and their needs but also optimize your approach to make it more effective and relevant to the industry.

To achieve this, you stay informed through industry publications, seminars and any other outlet that will keep you in sync with the relevant industry.

4. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes

Knowing your audience and their wants is key in sales. Not only do you need to identify what their needs are but also the potential issues they may find in your product or service.

By being able to empathize with your prospective clients, you can anticipate their responses in advance and prepare a strong sales pitch that touches upon their motivations and feelings.

5. Know your product

Knowing your customer is only one part of the equation; knowing what you are selling is the other. Knowing everything there is to know about your product or service, including both its strengths and weaknesses, allows you to build a stronger, more informed and convincing case about it.

Being transparent about the fallbacks of the product, while also leveraging all its advantages will make you a more transparent and trustworthy sales rep. Additionally, by knowing your product through and through, you will be able to tailor your sales pitch to your prospects' exact measures, allowing you to identify and present its most attractive and relevant aspects.

6. Customize your sales pitch

Your pitch is the bread and butter of any sales process, which is why it needs to be as good as it can be. A good pitch must strike the balance between being informative, interesting and persuasive enough to engage your prospects.

What is more, your pitch must tell a story, one that leads right back to the product you are trying to sell. However, the most important detail is for it to be customized specifically for the prospective client. Use your knowledge of the product alongside that of your prospect to create a pitch that will truly speak to them and align with their needs.

7. Work on your body language

How you present yourself before a prospective client can be a crucial element in the sales process. Indeed, the first impression you make can determine whether your prospect will choose to trust you and listen to your pitch, or not.

If you appear uncertain, shy or nervous, it will be hard to convince others of the usefulness or effectiveness of the product or service you are trying to sell. Meanwhile, an open and confident stance can have an opposing effect. That said, there is a fine line between appearing confident and arrogant.

Therefore, your body language is a key factor in your sales performance. A good way to achieve this balance is to practice your sales pitch on others and tailor your approach based on the feedback you receive.

8. Accept feedback

Following up on our previous point, it’s important that you seek feedback from others, as this will allow you to identify both strong and weak points in your sales approach. A good way to go about this is to ask your colleagues for their insights as well as your supervisors for a formal review of your work performance.

Importantly, you can also seek feedback from your prospects through online surveys, following your interaction with them. It is through their critique that you can improve your sales skills, as this will allow you to understand which areas may require further refinement.

9. Seek mentorship

Finding a mentor can advance your sales performance greatly, as you can learn industry ins and outs, expand your network, and enhance your existing skill set. A seasoned sales professional will give you important insights into your line of work but also offer you guidance, helping you take the next steps in your career.

Be it an informal mentorship with someone from your company or an official mentorship program, there is a lot to learn from a seasoned sales rep who knows their craft.

10. Perfect your closing techniques

Being familiar with different closing techniques can enhance the sales process and prepare you for every scenario. There are several methods that you could adopt, including:

  • The now or never close: Creating an urgency to encourage prospects into making a decision.
  • The question close: Asking questions to eliminate any objections or doubts regarding purchasing.
  • The assumptive close: Negotiating with a client as if the deal has already been made.
  • The takeaway close: Pushing a prospect into a deal by taking away some features in return for a lowered price.
  • The sharp angle close: Agreeing to a customer’s request or bargain in exchange for an immediate purchase.

Final thoughts

As you can see, there are numerous steps you can take to advance your sales career. By committing to lifelong learning, you will be able to refine your sales process, sharpen your skills, enrich your knowledge and diversify your sales techniques. Ultimately, this will set you down the path to becoming a successful salesperson.

Got a question or a tip of your own? Let us know in the comments section below.

Originally published on August 20, 2018.