Want to know what will truly set you apart from your competition? According to Aja Frost, writing for HubSpot, it’s your soft skills. “These are the abilities a salesperson has to build relationships, encourage productive conversation, and provide an exceptional customer experience.” But which ones are the most important for your sales career?
Soft Skills You Should Master
Building Rapport through a Growth Mindset
Some sales reps believe that if they aren’t naturally gifted with charisma they won’t be able to build rapport with prospects. That’s not true. In fact, Frost says that the reps who have to work to build rapport are better off. Belief in achievement through hard work is indicative of a growth mindset. “People with growth mindsets believe they can strengthen their natural talents and develop new abilities over time,” says Frost. Through hard work, remembering feedback and practice, you can be a master at the building rapport soft skill. Not only that, you’ll be able to tailor your efforts to each prospect personally. That will give you an edge over competitors who try the same strategy on all prospects.
Empathy is one of the most commonly known soft skills out there. If you can imagine yourself in the same situation as a prospect, especially emotionally, you have natural empathy. This skill can let you know when to push a sale forward and when to hold back and build up a prospect’s confidence.
If you’re not naturally empathetic, don’t worry. According to Frost, there are a few ways you can work on developing empathy. The easiest way is to imagine that you’re in the same position as your prospect. What would you do if you were faced with their problem? Would you want to be approached the way you’re approaching them? What would you need to hear to be convinced that your product or service could solve your key business problem? You don’t have to only do this exercise on prospects either. Now that the world is opening back up, you can go out and meet new people and try this strategy out on them. Strike up a conversation with someone and see if, after performing the exercise, you can establish a connection with them. Keep trying this strategy on different strangers until it becomes second nature. If you're still finding the process challenging, ask your manager to provide sales coaching to help you improve your soft skills.
Communication doesn’t stop at talking with someone else. When you can easily and effectively make your point, you're excelling in the communication soft skill. “You must be able to clearly and persuasively get your ideas across – without going off on tangents or using buzzwords and meaningless phrases,” says Frost.
If you feel communication is a soft skill you need to work on, try recording yourself giving your sales pitch. Getting a colleague in on it can also give you perspective into how you communicate during sales conversations. Do you notice any verbal tics or confusing jargon that you say often? Work on correcting both problems for your next sales meeting. Once you know the best ways to improve your communication skills, you’ll be able to avoid pitfalls in the future.