Nearly everyone has a story about when a salesperson made their buying decision a breeze. The salesperson understood the business, asked well thought-out questions and listened (instead of just talking), connected the product or service to stated (or unstated but very real) needs and grasped the conversation’s subtleties. Most importantly, the salesperson worked with the customer to solve a problem and create value.
The same skills deployed by your sales team are also invaluable to individuals not in sales roles. Skills associated with sales can enhance interactions between your employees and customers, among team members and with management.
The Sales Skills Your Employees Need
People skills drive sales success. They also top the list of most sought-after skills for today’s workforce. Pearson’s Skills Outlook: Power Skills identified communication, problem solving, personal learning and mastery, and cultural and social intelligence among the competencies U.S. employers value most now — and will in the future.
Employees, too, see interpersonal skills as crucial to current and future career success. Equipping every employee with these adaptable, in-demand skills empowers teams and builds an agile culture ready to meet the demands of a changing economy.
Effective communication enables salespeople to create value by fully understanding customer goals and needs through active listening, building trust and relationships and advancing the sale through impactful storytelling and written content like emails and proposals.
Beyond sales, strong communication fosters team collaboration by ensuring goal alignment, open knowledge sharing and fluid workflows. Communication abilities empower employees to articulate their value to leadership, provide thoughtful feedback on processes and products, and showcase achievements and aspirations in discussions and reviews with managers. For managers, honing communication allows more meaningful engagement conversations to tune into employee needs and convey greater purpose.
Developing sharp communication across all roles creates organizational transparency, builds trust, ensures information flows smoothly and promotes a productive, engaged culture.
Salespeople call on their problem-solving abilities to understand the client’s business as well as they understand their own. They understand the client’s business strategy and uncover ways their product or services can help the business achieve its goals. Quick thinking and creative solutions enable salespeople to turn objections into opportunities to showcase value.
Employees outside sales need strong problem-solving skills to address challenges big and small, from brainstorming workflow improvements to jump-starting internal collaboration. Sharp problem solving helps all employees proactively identify and remove obstacles to strengthen customer experiences, pursue operational goals and champion cross-functional priorities.
Cultural and Social Intelligence
From understanding diverse perspectives and needs to exhibiting awareness of themselves and others in interpersonal relationships, employees with strong social and cultural intelligence enable smoother sales — and more synergistic workplaces. While sales professionals often apply these competencies to strengthen the customer experience, all team members should be focused on how their role positively impacts the customer and how these traits help them across multiple aspects of life in general.
Identifying colleagues’ motivations and priorities allows all employees to adapt communication styles, consider new approaches and find common ground. Cultural intelligence breaks down silos, unlocks innovation opportunities through diversity of thought and equips organizations to work together toward strategic goals.
Personal Learning and Mastery
In today’s rapidly changing workplace, personal learning and mastery skills enable employees to remain adaptable, valuable and relevant. Salespeople leverage an aptitude for personal learning and mastery to continuously hone their craft as customer needs evolve. They maintain a comprehensive understanding of offerings, competitors and prospects.
Every employee can benefit from a mindset of constant improvement, whether gaining deeper knowledge in their current role or preparing for a lateral move. Nurturing personal growth and mastery gives employees the agency to find and pursue their unique purpose within an organization. An engaged, future-ready workforce equips organizations to keep up with evolving talent management demands.
How to Train for Stronger Sales Skills
Organizations play a critical role in learning, providing employees with the training and resources necessary for success. Plus, according to Pearson’s research, nearly all (92%) employees expect ample training opportunities from their employers. To meet this need, organizations must take an intentional approach to skills development.
First, understand your people. Conduct skills gap analyses and assessments for visibility into your entire workforce’s strengths and weaknesses. These insights allow personalized learning plans tailored to each employee’s role and aspirations.
Targeted, Personalized Learning Opportunities
Generic training rarely meets individual needs. When equipped with data on existing capabilities and future needs, you can match employees with customized content and connect sales skills development to role-specific scenarios. When L&D opportunities map back to real-world job responsibilities, employees see this learning’s impact on their daily lives.
Verified, Sharable Skills Credentials
Finally, empower employees to showcase new competencies. Skills credentials verified through assessments offer legitimacy. Employees can share these digital credentials on social media platforms and internal profiles as proof of their additional capabilities. This visibility enables organizations to recognize and encourage excellence — and identify candidates for cross-functional projects (and career promotion) leveraging their new expertise.
No matter the title on their email signature or the department they support, employees benefit from honing the skills that lead to long-term relationships, based on value, with loyal customers. When cultivated organization-wide, these fundamental sales abilities motivate all employees to achieve more and see themselves as partners in reaching organizational goals.