Today’s customers are more mindful of how they spend their money, especially in the current economy. With potentially limited resources, consumers put careful thought into the brands they invest in and the products they purchase. Because of this mindset, salespeople must understand how to truly capture and retain consumers’ interest and convince them that their product or service is the right solution for their needs.
To help you do this, we asked a panel of experts from Forbes Business Development Council to share the vital skills every salesperson needs if they hope to improve their conversion rates. Here are 13 traits and abilities they recommend honing if you work in sales.
1. The Ability To Warm Up Cold Leads
Perfect the art of turning cold calls into warm calls. Cold calling is a bad term and cold calls don’t work on the whole. The salesperson who can successfully convert cold leads into warm leads will have higher conversion rates. Try tactics like being human, not diving straight into the pitch, referencing expanded networks and discussing news/events of mutual interest. Make things warm before the pitch. – Julian Searle, Supply Chain Resources Group
2. Video Conferencing Skills
In today’s world, salespeople need to improve their video conferencing skills by mastering both their presentation and presence, as well as engaging the customer. All too often, salespeople and customers shy away from the camera. The ability to effectively engage through video will lead to establishing a more personal rapport with the customer and the more likely continuation of the sales process. – Nathan Ives, DataGlance, Inc.
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Authenticity can sometimes be challenging, but it is a skill critical to making your client feel comfortable. If you genuinely believe what you are selling will help your client, that comes across to them. Taking the time to learn what your lead needs, listening to those needs and then adjusting your standard message to present an authentic message best suited to them will lead to a closed deal. – Sarah Knapp, Spruce Technology
4. A Growth Mindset
I think having a growth mindset is the most important skill. When you have a growth mindset, you are always learning and improving. Having this mindset also enhances other skills including product knowledge, confidence, problem-solving and collaboration. Sales reps with a strong growth mindset can more easily handle objections, improve their lead conversions and close more deals. – Matthew Rolnick, Yaymaker
5. Not Taking Things Personally
Do not take things personally. Sales is like being in a shoe store. Your prospects will come in all different shapes and sizes or with different personalities, beliefs and past experiences. Your job is to treat every prospect like a buyer and to not take any comments or gestures to heart. This is the key to being an effective salesperson. – Karlton Dennis, Karla Dennis and Associates
A powerful skill for every rep is effective storytelling. The ability to weave a story that helps others envision a brighter future is game-changing. Listen to your buyer’s challenges and enable them to see a better outcome and a better version of themselves. – Howard Brown, RingDNA | Inside sales & enterprise sales acceleration software
7. Qualifying Leads
High-performing sales reps have a rigorous qualification model that is multi-dimensional and positioned from the buyer’s point of view. They consistently apply it to the opportunities in the pipeline. These reps also tend to be very protective of their time and spend it on the high-potential, winnable opportunities. Too many reps merely manage a checklist of activities and assume the outcome will be positive. – Julie Thomas, ValueSelling Associates
8. Preparation And Coachability
Prepare for anything and everything. Know your client, their company, their accomplishments and failures and know how you can really help them. Don’t just try to sell them something. Salespeople also need to be coachable. Everyone around you wants you to be successful, so absorb everything they are saying while putting it into practice. – Donald O’Sullivan, Pegasystems
9. The Ability To Uncover Customer Challenges
To convert leads and close deals in a tightened economy, a good seller needs to focus on two elements: customer challenges and solutions. Uncover and address high priority customer challenges with high costs of inaction. Prove your proposed solution can make a quantifiable business impact in solving the priority challenge. – Tom Pisello, Mediafly
10. The Ability To Create And Follow A Sales Process
It is important to follow a set sales process from the discovery process through your proposal review to a final decision-making meeting. If you do, you will have an opportunity to gain an understanding of the pains and challenges the client has and prepare a comprehensive proposal review to make sure you are in alignment. Once that is done, set your decision-making meeting. – Angie Barnes, NAVCO
11. Personal Branding Skills
Differentiate yourself through personal branding. Having the skill to position yourself as a consultant, a source of knowledge and a strategic partner through a strong social media brand, rather than “just” being a rep, is key. This skill ups the levels of the virtual selling game and builds trust while personal interactions have been fully removed from the sales cycle for the time being. – Irina Soriano, Seismic
12. A Human Touch
Warm leads become hotter when there is a humanistic touch to your approach with sales. Every prospective customer has a pain point. If the product, service or solution you offer can resolve that, the missing touch is you and your humaneness. Embrace it and your prospect’s pain points and you’ll convert more often than not. – Brandon Batchelor, ReadyCloud
One vital skill every salesperson needs to work on is tact. Don’t be the person who jumps right into a pitch, ignores questions and blindly follows a script. Sales are conversations and listening is just as important as speaking. Prospects often tell you what they need and provide ample opportunities for upsells and cross-sells if you’re willing to listen and engage with tact. – Alexander Divinsky, RMG Media