What is the first thing you notice when someone enters a sales meeting?
According to surveys conducted by Reader’s Digest, first impressions have little to do with what’s on someone’s resume. You’re more likely to hone in on an individual’s soft skills, including emotional intelligence.
Less concrete skills, abilities, and affinities matter. Do your employees have the sales soft skills necessary to bring your company to the next level?
The first step is understanding the difference between hard and soft skills. We’ve created this guide to explain the distinctions. We’ll share and describe the soft skills necessary to excel in sales.
It’s never too late to focus on growth and pursue skill and career development. Continue reading to learn about the sales skills that will transform your business.
Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills
Hard skills are strictly job-related abilities. We sometimes call them “technical skills” or “career skills.” Without them, employees could not perform the most basic function of their roles.
For example, a salesperson must know concrete knowledge about products, policies, and the sales process. These skills are not always transferrable. You can build hard skills through education and experience.
Imagine a salesperson who only possesses hard skills, however. You’d end up with a robot.
Automation can accomplish some jobs. Still, most customers will do anything to connect to a “real person” after dealing with AI assistants.
Soft skills are personality and humanity-driven. Unlike robots, humans can communicate, solve novel problems, delegate, and make emotional connections. These soft skills are often transferrable, and many are innate or learned over a lifetime.
The Most Important Soft Skills for Sales Roles
You’re more likely to buy something from someone you like. What is the difference between a likable salesperson and an unlikable one? Often, it comes down to personality-driven soft skills.
Hiring employees with these soft skills is easier than training individuals who lack them. Below we’ll discuss a few of the most sought-after sales soft skills.
Creative Problem Solving
We like to think of lead generation as human-focused problem-solving. The problem is that you have a product you need to sell. The solution comes down to creativity in your interactions with potential leads.
Strong problem solvers are capable of critical thought. They use the information they have to make second-to-second choices. They are masters of efficiency and capable of thinking through many angles.
The ability to see things from another’s perspective is empathy. Empathetic individuals can understand what someone is feeling and appeal to their emotions.
Often, the key to moving a product is understanding how it solves a problem for the customer or client. A great salesperson is intuitive when it comes to making these connections. They have a knack for addressing pain points that make your product more appealing.
Furthermore, people don’t like pushy salespeople. When a lead feels targeted, they’re more likely to get defensive and retreat.
A sensitive, empathetic salesperson will notice the signs and hold back. This helps reduce aggressive and off-putting tactics.
The key to an effective sale is fostering a relationship. All relationships improve through clear, open communication.
In our increasingly digital world, successful salespeople must be able to communicate effectively. They must reach people face-to-face, in writing, over the phone, and in front of groups.
How do your employees come across in writing? Are they equally effective in person?
Lead generation is all about persuasion—the subtler, the better. A strong communicator can persuade without coercion. They choose words carefully, prioritizing clarity over buzzwords. They can also adjust their approach based on their audience and medium.
Few professionals face more day-to-day rejection than salespeople. Individuals who cannot handle failure are unlikely to thrive in sales. It takes resilience to continue to pursue your goals despite challenges.
Today, the topic of burnout is coming up more and more. Individuals who cannot easily move past failure are more susceptible. The most successful employees are able to move forward after a loss.
Resilient employees are comfortable with rejection. They are capable of taking perspective and making changes. They maintain hope and foster a growth mindset that keeps them moving forward.
Soft Skills and Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence also plays a role in building soft skills for business. Six distinct factors make up an emotionally intelligent employee’s skill set:
- Leadership and supervision
- Influence and persuasion
- Flexibility and adaptability
- Self-regulatory skills
- Confidence and self-assurance
- Social and emotional awareness
Emotional intelligence is part of many SEL (social-emotional learning) curriculums. Many states and school districts mandate this learning for all students. Young people entering the workforce today have been building this intelligence since childhood.
Many college-aged employees mentor older employees who did not grow up with SEL. They make excellent natural salespeople. College-aged students thrive in lead generation and communication roles.
We consider college-aged, emotionally intelligent employees to be elite domestic talent. Young people make the perfect contribution to a turnkey sales team. Leveraging their soft skills allows for thoughtful delegation without compromise.
Level Up Your Sales Soft Skills
A competitive candidate is more than a list of accomplishments. You’re unlikely to excel in sales if you lack emotional intelligence. Hire employees with sales soft skills, and you’ll have a more competent sales force.
The rising popularity of SEL curriculum means most students have the skills they need to thrive in sales. The Selling Factory will help connect you with college students from America’s top universities.
Speak with us about a free consultation. Discover how outsourcing soft skills keeps companies productive.