You are already a salesman, you are starting in the business or you want to update your sales skills, you are in the right place. I explain to you in 12 steps what are the most sought after qualities and how to obtain them.
The “sales” profession explained
The job of a salesperson includes several types of activities:
- The salesperson, whose objective is to sell a product or service to a customer, usually in a store. He does not prospect, the customer comes to him.
- The sales technician, who must be able to advise a customer on the choice of a product and sell more technical tools. He accompanies customers through the purchasing process. The average basket is high.
- The negotiator, who must be able to establish a contract between the company for which he works and the future client, he negotiates partnerships, large contracts, he often has an international portfolio.
- The digital marketing expert is a mixture of commercial techniques and copywriting. This sales person will send cold emails, perform product demonstrations in video, exchange with his prospects on LinkedIn and manage everything via a CRM.
Each of these jobs is completely different in terms of tasks and needs. Let’s get to it. 👀
🏪 I don’t think I need to explain to you what an in-store salesperson does. He/she advises and tries to increase the average basket per customer by inviting them to add pretty things to their basket. You can do the job on ultra-specific products, like the tile department at Walmart, or just any kind of supplies in a “$1 everything” store In short, everything to make a world.
💸 The average salary of a salesman is $27,080 gross per year in the US. I know what you’re thinking, it’s not great. I agree.
👜 A traveling salesperson is a salesperson who specializes in commercial prospecting in a specific geographical area. Basically, let’s say you sell air conditioning systems for large companies and factories. You are given a geographical area and you will canvass in this area to try to sell. Generally, you do some phoning and some customer meetings or you go into “negotiator” mode.
💰 You have a fixed salary + a variable salary depending on what you sell (you earn a percentage of commission). + Company car + Professional telephone. Often you also have a thirteenth month and the salaries are quite high.
💸 The average salary of a travelling salesman is $48 493 gross per year. But finally, for me, the figure is biased. You already have a lot of benefits in kind, and then it all depends so much on what you sell and how you sell it.
On-site salesman or sales technician
👔 This function is essentially focused on the development of new markets. The field salesperson is generally attached to the company’s sales department with the mission of prospecting for customers and developing the company without having to travel.
😿 Here you can say goodbye to the company car, but you still get the few other nice perks.
💸 The average salary for a technical sales representative is around $45,850 per year in the US, so take off a little $10,000 from that figure if you’re just starting out.
The job of a marketer
🎯 The job of a marketer is an activity that consists of studying the needs of customers in order to decide on the products and services that can meet those needs. Finally, new sales people are also marketers, they must master the tools, calculate the benefits and understand the ROI and performance dashboards.
🕺 Often, there is also a variable, perhaps in the form of bonuses if you meet the objectives, but the fixed salary is high in advance.
💸 The median salary for marketing jobs in the US is $49300 gross per year, take a little $10,000 off this figure if you are just starting out.
The job of sales manager
👔 The sales manager leads a team of sales people, either travelling or on site. The goal is to help them sell by providing them with tools, methods and resources. It’s a “mentor” job, you set the objectives, give the rules of the game, throw the wolves into the arena and see which one is doing the best job of bringing prey to the pack, then you help the others to achieve the same results. Sales people are often at war with each other, it’s a competitive job, the goal is also to create a pleasant work atmosphere where everyone finds their place.
💸 The median salary for sales manager jobs in France is $69,339 gross per year in the US.
What is a sales skill?
A commercial skill is a quality that allows a salesperson to sell better, whether it is soft skills or hard skills. The sales profession is above all a profession of “attitude” and key adaptation skills. We will see today 13 skills, divided into 3 parts, how to be, what to know and how to sell.
[PART 1] Commercial know-how = 5 qualities
The commercial know-how is a mix of tchatche, confidence, adaptability and methods. A kind of subtle recipe with high added value that is sometimes acquired with ease and others with a lot of work. We are not all equal when it comes to our self-confidence and the sympathy we give to others.
What qualities should a salesperson have?
Let’s look together at 5 key behavioral skills of a salesperson, why they are important and how to improve them. ❤
#1 Sales skills: Sympathy
This is not the easiest skillto acquire, and it’s even quite complicated to know if you attract sympathy or not. Your loved ones will lie to you and tell you that you do, and it’s hard to know who can be honest about it. Besides, there are so many people who are thought to be jerks and who think they are well liked by their colleagues. Of course you know who I’m talking about, we all have them around us. 😂 Well, you should know that it could be you It’s pretty hard for me to tell you if people like you. On the other hand, you know very well if people say you are wild or if you make friends everywhere you go. So, how do you improve your likability?
- Avoid talking about yourself too much, especially your successes. “I was voted best salesperson of the month,” who cares?
- Smile, but not with all your teeth, forced smiles show.
- Be sincere. It’s stupid, but a salesman who believes in what he sells will always sell better.
- Don’t neglect the small gestures, from offering a pen to a 10% discount, everyone likes gifts.
- Show empathy. When someone comes to you, usually they have a need or a problem to solve, the more you understand the customer the more they like you. We are narcissistic beings, never forget that.
- Don’t pretend to be nice, it shows.
#2 Business Skills: Confidence
🧠 Explanation :
To inspire trust, Artistote was already talking about credibility, emotion and logic back in the day. You wear the salesman’s uniform, but that’s not enough, to inspire trust you need to know what you’re talking about (credibility), be able to respond to the customer’s emotional barriers (emotion) and find the best solution for them (logic)
✅ Area for improvement :
Work on your 3 pillars: credibility, emotion, logic Example
- Break down the price to explain it
- Highlight features to justify the price
- Minimize the price, by relating it to the monthly cost or explaining that it saves money in the long run
Check the need. If it’s too expensive forthe customerYou want to make a better margin
- The customer tells you that he is afraid that the product will not work, you tell him that you have only 2% of negative returns and that there is a guarantee = you gain credibility
#3 Sales skills: Observation and listening skills
🧠 Explanation :
To meet a need, you have to know what it is. Often, we think we understand all of the customer’s issues before they even formulate their sentence. We think we have an uncommon ability to analyze. In short, this is not true There is no study to date that proves that the first impression is the right one, mainly because we are much too influenced by internal factors. Otherwise, even when we look at others, we look at ourselves (we had said that humans were narcissistic, right). These cognitive biases are: our moods, primitive defense mechanisms, social prejudices.. In short, I like to say that we don’t know, as long as we really know.
✅ Area for improvement :
There’s an incredible weapon for this, so simple and so often forgotten: Sales rephrasing.Would you like to recap together?The reformulation is done in three steps,
- First of all, you identify the essential questions that will allow you to better understand the customer’s needs in relation to what you are selling: budget, taste, reliability, duration in time, favorite color..
- You ask all these questions, in addition to what they have just told you
- You reformulate with all the answers
He validates or corrects your understanding of his needs, and bam, the misunderstandings disappear. The prospect feels listened to and valued, you give him time and his little ego is all happy. 💚
#4 Sales skills: Problem solving
🧠 Explanation :
That’s great, we’re talking about listening and rephrasing, but what comes after that? We need to find the perfect tool for his request. (logos = logic) For that, you have to like puzzles. You have to understand what compromises he is willing to make if you don’t have the item or service that meets all his criteria
✅ Area for improvement:
There is a method called the SPNCMS method that allows you to rank the customer’s fears, needs and priorities . It’s a super famous sales tool. We’ll talk about it below and I’ll explain everything, I promise.
#5 Sales Skills: Adaptability
🧠 Explanation :
Your prospects are going to tell you no. They’re going to tell you no and never say yes, and sometimes they’ll say they’re not interested but end up agreeing to learn more, if you know how to handle it (no, with women it’s not the same – no is no)
These are called sales objections There are objections when you approach. 👉
The immediate rejection or dodging
“I’m not interested” or “I’m not the one to deal with that”.
“I’m already using your competitor‘s product and I don’t want to change”
“I don’t have time” “call me back in 3 months”
The second type of objections are those related to the sales process, when the future customer is already committed and has objections to the product.
“It’s too expensive”, “I found a cheaper product elsewhere.”
The features / options
“It doesn’t have what I’m looking for.”
“I prefer a brand I know better” “I am not convinced.”
How to answer commercial objections?
✅ Area for improvement :
For every type of objection, there is a method to respond. I’m not telling you that it always works, I’m just saying that it’s your best card to play to make a good prospect” It’s too expensive” = compared to whom, compared to what? Try to understand where his sources are coming from. Does he know that you are priced at the market? Does he know why your products are higher quality?
💡Many options, it may not meet a strong need.
🅰 To how you phrase the price. We’ll talk about this later, but announcing the price is important and it’s not done like announcing a train arriving at the station”I don’t have time” = If time was not an issue, would you use our services/products? Or, what are your business priorities right now?”I’m already with your competitors…” = Is there something missing in their services/offerings? What are the points you are not satisfied with? Do you know our prices?
✅ Area of improvement :
Ask open-ended questions to understand what the real root problem is. The problem is never time, but mostly fear of change, or lack of need. Question, dig, find.
💡 Generally speaking, (except for the price objection), your best weapon is to ask questions.
🅰 If you don’t have the answers, stay honest and let the prospect move on. Being a good salesperson is also about accepting that you won’t make a sale
#6 Sales skills: stress management
🧠 Explanation :
Being a salesperson is usually stressful because you have a sales performance to achieve and you operate on a reward basis. “When I do well, I get paid well” and that’s not always true, sometimes you put in a lot of effort and the product is just hard to sell. There can be many reasons: because it becomes obsolete, because the competition is tough… Yes, life isn’t always fair, and it’s even more so in the business world. 😂
Knowing how to manage your stress is the key, as much for you as for your sales, because an anxious salesman shows up and, well, it’s not very selling precisely
✅ Area for improvement :
Some sites will tell you that you have to be “stress resistant”, I hate that expression. Nobody is stress resistant, we are not building materials, we are humans The best thing I have found to reduce my stress is to accept my emotions. Yes, it’s very cliché, I admit. (Oh and I have a stress ball too) All the books, podcasts and websites will tell you the same thing: meditate before going to sleep and when you get up, take the time to listen to your emotions and give yourself moments without your business phone.
- Go to Headspace, make an investment in your well-being.
- You are not going to die or get fired if you are not the best every month. Then, being the best all the time is way too much pressure. Accept that you’re going to fall short sometimes, accept that client who walked away because you missed out, accept that you’re not perfect and move on to the next one at all costs and you offer the customer a product that is out of their budget = you lose credibility.
To have failed does not mean to be a failure.
[PART 2] What are the skills of a good salesperson? = 4 sales skills
Well then, here we go a little more into the technical part of sales performance. We’re getting away from soft skills and talking about methods that are easy to acquire.
#7 Sales skills : Mastery of the product offer and the market.
You have to have some business knowledge to do business. So far so good. But what does that mean? You have to understand your market, its ins and outs, to get a comprehensive view of what you’re selling. If you don’t know what’s going on in your market
There’s an age-old trick called Porter’s 5 forces (we don’t care what it’s called), basically, just do a little Google search on these topics:
- The degree of rivalry with competitors: how many are there? Which are the main ones? How good are they?
- the threat of new entrants: in real life, we don’t care about the degree of threat. However, if it’s high, going for a walk from time to time will help to be ahead of possible bad surprises.
- The threat of substitute products: What other tools/services can be used instead of yours? These competitors should also be considered.
- The bargaining power of suppliers: It all depends on your market, in the retail sector for example, where a few cents are severely negotiated between the producer and the buyer, and really make the difference.
- Bargaining power of customers: Basically, how much can they get you to lower prices, how much pressure do they have on you? Generally, a product that sells little but is expensive = high bargaining power, a product that sells well but is cheap = little bargaining power.
#8 Sales commercial marketing and KPI’s analysis
The commercial activity can be defined as all the activities of the company aiming at maintaining, developing or creating commercial relationships with its customers. Marketing skills are more digital. They will be linked to everything that is “performance measurement”
Basically, to be a successful salesperson, it is not enough to make sales, even if that is already great, you have to analyze
- The number of successful sales over a given time period,
- The number of failed sales over this same period and identify the brakes to purchase,
- Calculate the average basket of your customers: you sell yes, but what do they buy and in what quantity
- The customer satisfaction rate. A happy customer comes back, therefore, did he appreciate his sales journey?
- The turnover that you have managed to obtain,
For that, mastering digital tools has become essential: Dashboard, content writing, digital social Selling, signing an electronic contract… The business is becoming digital
#9 Sales skills : Be comfortable with numbers
Now that we have talked about the types of KPI’s, we need to know how to calculate them and especially how to analyze them
✅ Area for improvement :
What are the most common calculations for analyzing sales prospecting?
- The number of appointments landed: separate phone appointments and live appointments.
- The number of new qualified leads generated over a given period
🛫 Transformation process:
- Quote Request Rate: (The number of quotes sent / number of people contacted x100).
- Demo Rate: (The number of product demos completed / number of people contacted).
- Successful Demo Rate: (The number of product demos conducted / The number of quotes sent x100).
- The conversion rate.
(Number of transactions x number of visitors) x 100. (Number of leads x number of visitors) x 100.
- The revenue generated over the given period.
- (Sales = sales price x quantities sold)
#10 Sales Skills: Spelling
Spelling mistakes don’t sell well. In some cases, more than others. If you’re selling carpentry for factories, no one cares if you forgot an “s” on the quote. But if you’re selling a copywriting tool and there are mistakes in your email, your contact may be shocked.
To be honest, I don’t think this is the most important sales performance and only the old-timers are annoyed with it. At the very least, on a resume or when you’re in front of a recruiter, it’s really going to make a difference, but not knowing your grammar inside and out isn’t going to stop you from building trust or selling. On the other hand, you can easily avoid embarrassing emails thanks to some correction tools, personally I use :
- MerciApp. (the pro version is 10 € per month).
- Antidote. (€119 lifetime purchase + purchase of updates separately or €59 per year.)
They integrate directly into your email and other text tools and correct you in real time. Personally, I have both because I am a quiche in French but one is enough.
[PART 3] What are the techniques to know how to sell ? 3 basic methods to master
The 7 steps of selling
✅Knowing and pampering the 7 steps of selling helps you make a clean sweep on customer relationship management.
- Making contact = smile, greet, look in the eyes (but not too long, otherwise it scares them). 😆
- Customer discovery phase = ask as many questions as possible, practice active listening, reformulate.
- Sales pitch to convince = this is the time to pull out the adaptation and persuasiveness card.
- Handling objections = Your contact will test your ability to answer his questions. (Refer to the tips on commercial objections above).
- Sales negotiation = This is the time when the customer seeks to negotiate: price, discount, additional option. It is up to you to find the compromise that suits you.
- Closing = To accelerate the closing, there are several techniques
- Play the clock = “the offer will expire” “we only have 3 left in stock”.
- Projecting the customer in the near future = “if we validate today you will receive it in 2 working days at home, ready to use”.
7. Leaving and the beginning of the customer relationship = To leave your prospect well, we say that you must use the RTER method =
- Reassure = “you made the right choice.”
- Thanks = “thank you for your time” (we don’t thank someone for buying our product, it’s not haggling).
- Escort = “we’re with him all the way.”
- Review = “leave him his card” “remind him he can contact you again if he needs to.”
🧠 In reality this principle also works on a website at the time of purchase, the customer will be accompanied in the sales process, receive a validation email with the follow-up of his order, this process reassures him, from the beginning until the purchase.
The SPNCMS(E) method
✅ It gathers six levers to exploit which are at the origin of the purchase motivation of the customer you have in front of you, on the phone or with whom you exchange by email. The 6 levers are :
- Security = need to be reassured about the reliability of the offer/product.
- Pride = need to feel different and privileged. This is used a lot by big luxury brands.
- Novelty = has a real attraction for everything that is new.
- Comfort = need to be comfortable, often need to be very accompanied and not have too many buying steps to go through. (Comfort rhymes with laziness).
- Money = when the customer has a small budget, we will redirect him, often needs to have the impression of “making a good deal”.
- Sympathy = Very sensitive to the personalized customer experience and attention, it happens more often than you think.
- Environment = The ecological impact of the tool is important to the customer.
🧠If you know your product well, you must know features and arguments that meet all these needs. During your pitch, you only press those that are important to your customer. If they don’t care about the planet, they don’t care if your product is 20% recycled material, however, if they need safety, the 10 year warranty will be a good selling point.
The SIMBC Method
✅ This is a specific method that helps you to argue in a targeted way about a product, whether it’s via telephone exchanges, face-to-face or emails. It is particularly used when you sell a technical tool: a prospecting automation tool for example.
- S = Situation ; Putting precise words on the customer’s situation (context, stakes..).
- I = Idea ; We are not talking about creativity here but about a commercial advantage that meets the customer’s needs.
- M = Mechanism; Demonstrate the effectiveness of the solution with the QQOQCP questions (Who, What, Where, When, How, Why).
- B = Benefits; Once the tool is explained, talk about its advantages: time savings, competitive advantages, results.
- C = Conclusion; A classic salesperson’s conclusion technique, mentioned above.
🅰 Be careful not to monopolize the floor. Explaining the tool in detail is good, doing it in time is better. This method is mostly used for already warm prospects who want to know more.
[BONUS] How to get new customers?
Sales skills are qualities, skills and abilities that are necessary to succeed in the sales field . Now, you also need to know and master some lead generation strategies.
Via LinkedIn prospecting
LinkedIn prospecting allows you to both contact thousands of potential customers per week and get all the contact information of these prospects (company, position, email address, phone number).
The goal is to introduce these coordinates in your CRM and to automate your first prospecting actions in order to discuss only with qualified prospects. If it seems Chinese to you for the moment, watch the small example video :
Thanks to Cold Email
Cold Email is “simply” contacting a person with whom you have never had a previous exchange. In reality it is not so simple, since you have to get their email address In order to obtain his contact information, we have two options
- Have them fill out a contact form, either via your website, an advertisement, a newsletter, or via a trade show or physical event.
- Scrape his data i.e. find his data online, thanks to a tool like Walaaxy.
By using activatable buttons on your site
This is an SEO technique that works very well, you can add buttons that lead to a contact form, an appointment for a demo or a brochure request that will give you the email of your prospect.
Commercial profile : You are looking for a job?
You are a salesman and you want a recruiter to notice you, or to answer a job offer in the best possible way?
🧠Start by updating your LinkedIn profile. Add your technical skills and work experience to your bio, highlighting everything we just discussed in the article. Then, insert your resume into your profile and follow the instructions in the article to find a job on the network. Then, use the sales methods we have seen to sell yourself during the job interview.
✅ Someone I really like is Patrick Dang. Hhe helps people get a better sense of the recruiter in front of them and succeed in their job interviews. You can follow her him on LinkedIn to read her tips too.
Summary: What are the skills required by the business?
🧠The skills and soft skills that are really in demand are going to be:
- Adaptability. How do you bounce back if you fail?
- Your perseverance and motivation. A motivated salesperson is the first thing recruiters will look for.
- The sympathy and trust you inspire.
- Your skills in software management and CRM (Customer relationship management), as well as your ability to report and analyze KPI’s.
- Your past experiences and successes. Recruiters want numbers. How well have you sold?
- Your understanding of the market you are applying to. Have you done any research? What is its market share? Do you understand the objectives and goals of your future employer?
✅ Prepare for your interview, learn as much as you can about the products you are going to sell. You are going to be tested on them.
How can you be a good salesperson?
The best way to be a good salesperson is to be honest, comfortable and patient. Your sales won’t take off right away, you’ll have to practice, fail, relearn. Be a team player and relax. The goal is above all to do a job that you like.
Sample CV for a salesperson
Examples of skills in a CV
In your commercial CV you can add :
- Listening skills.
- Team player.
- Customer relationship management.
- Commercial management.
- Spoken languages.
- Prospecting tools that you master.
Then add all your professional experiences :
- X sales in such and such a company.
- Portfolio of X clients.
- Development of X market.
- Increase in turnover of X€.
- Development of the average basket of X%.
- Implementation of the sales strategy in X company.
- Automation of prospecting for X prospects.
🧠 Have little experience on digital prospecting? Use the free version of Waalaxy to prospect online and boost your sales skills.