Sales roles need filling across pretty much every sector and industry there is. Bearing this in mind, it seems inevitable that there’s a lot of movement between sectors amongst sales professionals looking for their next role. This means you’re less likely to find someone who has sales experience solely in your industry. So what sales skills are universal across all sectors? And which ones do you need most in your staff?
Sales staff need to be able to talk to all kinds of different people, day in, day out. Regardless of sector and background, it’s important to find someone that genuinely enjoys and doesn’t resent the task of engaging people. Sales staff with transferable communication skills should be comfortable talking to MDs one minute and an elderly customer the next. Solid communication skills are crucial for client relationships, making them a vital trait in all sales people.
Great sales people are also great negotiators – after all, some business is better than no business, and it’s important to know when to quit. Clients and customers appreciate a bit of give and take, and a flexible approach can make them more likely to work with you again. A crucial part of negotiation is understanding the needs of the client so that appropriate products and services can be put forward to them.
If staff are coming to you with limited knowledge about the industry, a lot of them will have been in that situation before. It’s important to look for ones who have an eagerness and desire to learn about the product, as well as the industry as a whole. This includes being eager to discover the latest opportunities and understanding the threats to the industry too. Good sales people are intuitive and good listeners, so they should possess these skills in order to enhance the way they learn about the product, as well as aiding their sales technique.
An inexperienced candidate or one that has less relevant experience can win over the competition with the right amount of motivation. Working in sales takes a lot of resilience and determination, which motivated people can conjure up more effectively. Motivated individuals will also have the right enthusiasm and dedication it takes to get to know their role and the sector they work in.
So when it comes to sales, which is more important – industry experience or a natural ability to sell? Let us know in the comments.