16 Soft Skills Every Sales Professional Needs

Jan 30, 2023
soft sales skills


As sales professionals - whether you are a BDR/SDR, account executive, sales engineer or any other role in the go-to-market team, we are expected to find new leads, discover new opportunities, demonstrate value, close deals, grow and nurture accounts - all in the interest of acquiring and retaining customers.  But without important soft skills, all of these tasks - particularly closing deals - can be challenging.  

What Are Soft Sales Skills?

Simply put, soft skills, also referred to as "professional skills", are non-technical skills, and they're crucial for a sales professionals to succeed. They consist of adaptation, empathy, active listening, and communication.

Soft skills are crucial for sales because they facilitate interpersonal communication. Clarity in communication is crucial for success in the workplace. For someone to comprehend what you're selling and why they should buy it from you rather than someone else, you must be able to clearly explain the characteristics and benefits of your product or service.

Many potential clients will discuss before they determine what they want to buy from us, therefore active listening is equally important in sales (or not). This means that if we don't pay close attention, we can miss out on important details about their requirements or worries that could enable us to provide better service to them in the future.

This is particularly true for B2B companies where the majority of deals begin with a consultation between prospects who are already familiar with one another but still need persuasion from one party before moving forward in their sales funnel together.

Owners of e-commerce websites would greatly benefit if all employees were trained on soft skills, such as active listening practice since phone calls account for almost half of all global online shopping transactions.

16 Soft Sales Skills for Every Salesperson

1. Communication

A skilled communicator makes for an excellent salesperson. He or she can listen, inquire, and carry in a discussion with others. This is because they are skilled at posing queries that encourage potential customers to discuss themselves and their needs. You can modify your sales pitch for them once you know what they require. They'll feel like you value them as a person, not just as a potential customer or client.

2. Persuasion

This is one of the hardest talents for salespeople to master since it calls for both self-assurance and adaptability so that you can adjust your strategy as necessary based on the type of customer you're dealing with (for instance, young professionals versus senior folks). Instead of asking someone if they like something, use open-ended questions like, "How do you feel about this?" to persuade them to buy from you.

3. Active Listening

One of the most crucial soft skill abilities is the capacity for attentive listening. You can use listening as a great technique to increase the effectiveness of your sales pitches and negotiating strategies.

By actively listening to your consumers, you can demonstrate to them how much you value their business and how well you comprehend their demands. Additionally, it assists you in better understanding their issues so that you may address them with more appropriate answers.

Allowing your clients to speak freely is just as important as actively listening to them. They'll be more inclined to speak out and be honest with you if you remain silent.

4. Empathy

Successful sales professionals are customer-focused. Despite their pride in their goods, they are more focused on assisting consumers in finding solutions to their problems. These salespeople have a strong sense of empathy, which helps them comprehend their clients' perspectives and identify their problems.

Replay talks and try to understand your prospect's motivations. As well, try using predictive conversation. Before you ask a question, make an effort to foresee their response based on your understanding of your prospect.

Perspective-taking is what is known as it, and it is essential to the growth of the human being. Your sales profession will benefit from your capacity to consider other people's perspectives. Putting things in their perspective enables you to see how they're feeling, how the current situation is affecting them, and what exactly they're looking for in a solution to their problem.

A customer-centric strategy is now essential for a successful sales process. Recognizing the needs of your customers and offering tailored solutions result in sales. A high EQ and the ability to adopt a different perspective both assist you in creating enduring, meaningful connections with both prospects and clients.

5. Emotional Intelligence

emotional intelligence

You become a master at developing relationships if you have high emotional intelligence (EQ). EQ consists of six parts:

  • Emotional intelligence: You are aware of your emotions and moods.

  • Self-confidence: You are confident and aggressive, but not haughty.

  • Self-regulation: Your responses to outside events are within your control.

  • Adaptability: You can adapt to change easily and swiftly.

  • Influence: You can influence others to adopt your viewpoint and follow your advice.

  • Leadership: A group of individuals can be successfully brought together and given direction.

Having high emotional intelligence makes reaching your goals much simpler because others will naturally want to follow you.

6. Integrity

Integrity entails being able to accept responsibility for mistakes, admit when you're wrong, and be open to the possibility that you occasionally just don't know. The difficult thing is being able to confess when you're wrong and accept responsibility; not lying is easy.

Notify a client that "the ball got dropped" instead. Inform them that you neglected to perform X. I apologize. I'll fix this right now. Relationship-building is the foundation of sales. Integrity demonstrates a depth of character that inspires respect and trust.

7. Adaptability

A salesperson's name often soars to the top of the leaderboard and stays there when they are effective at hearing and implementing feedback. After all, they are combining their manager's knowledge, expertise, and insights with a superb rep's strengths. A winning combination, that.

Additionally, sales rep expectations are always changing. What worked in 2001 will most definitely not work in 2021 because consumers are much more sophisticated than they once were. Great salespeople must be adaptable and coachable to keep procedures and tactics current.

8. Problem-Solving

Although it can appear nebulous, problem resolution is essential to B2B sales. Your objective is to come up with the greatest solution for the problem your leads have, which is typically a fairly well-defined one.

Since there is no "one size fits all," it is imperative to examine every facet of the problem. You should be prepared and in a position to assist leads in showing them resolutions you found if you exercise some creativity and follow procedures for researching solutions.

How to Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills?

Great problem solvers can see the wider picture, envisage the result they're working toward and pinpoint the steps necessary to get there. Reverse engineering the scenario can help you explain the best approach to get there and will help you be more focused on the task at hand.

9. Collaboration

collaboration - soft sales skills

One of the key competencies for sales professionals is the capacity to coordinate one's objectives, processes, and timetable with those of others. The game plan that sales teams follow allocates members to various roles and specifies various outcomes.

For the majority of these roles and results to be successful together. That means a lack of collaboration and hierarchical leadership will probably result in undesirable consequences and missed goals.

10. Relationship Building

The days of selling alone are passed. Teams of salespeople are now the norm. The ability to collaborate with a large team, technical experts, and management are required.

Develop the abilities needed to participate and lead. A team player is someone who can provide and accept constructive criticism without prejudice or ego and work with others to pursue a common objective.

To optimize their daily influence, today's inbound sales professionals must be able to collaborate with a wide range of other departments, including marketing, product development, and customer service. In other words, collaboration is essential for today's salespeople.

For their sales reps to start building relationships with their prospects, the sales manager should set an example.

Building relationships requires developing rapport and trust from the very first contact.

Building a solid relationship with clients can result in happier consumers, which can ultimately bring in new business with the support of Google reviews and testimonials if you're a sales manager involved in existing client meetings and plans.

11. Storytelling

Selling requires not only demonstrating the features of your product but also persuading customers that these features will address their issues or otherwise be of significant value to them.

Anyone wishing to work in sales should be aware that a basic lack of communication skills is a huge red flag.

12. Sales Presentations / Demos

There was PowerPoint in the beginning. You now have presenting tools like Prezi and Keynote. Regardless of the technique you employ, the ability to present well and speak in front of an audience can help you establish your brand's credibility. Conducting a dynamic and persuasive demo is another essential ability for B2B sellers.

13. Social Selling

Since social media now plays a significant role in our online lives, many businesses now hire social media managers to manage their brand's online presence.

Knowing the best practices and strategies for interacting with prospects on networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and others will help B2B sellers improve their lead generation and conversion efforts.

14. Coachable

Teaching others about a subject is the best way to truly grasp it. This is crucial for a sales team looking to develop soft skills in particular.

Almost all successful sales professionals have a long history of inspired mentors who cared about spreading success. As a manager, it is your responsibility to guide and instruct new reps on how to do their duties effectively as well as how to acquire new abilities independently.

15. Growth Mindset

soft skill - growth mindset

Say you have great rapport-building skills. Do you think that establishing rapport is a skill that comes naturally to you, or do you think that it took effort, repetition, and outside feedback to develop?

You have a growth attitude if you selected option two. People who have a growth mindset think they can gradually improve their inherent skills and learn new ones. On the other hand, those with fixed mindsets think of their abilities as fixed. They are stuck with the cards that have been dealt to them.

16. Optimism

Positive people are more pleasant to be around and to work with. Learn to accept compliments and take criticism in stride. Maintain a cheerful attitude both with clients and with your teammates. Keep a pleasant outlook, and others will enjoy working with you.

Another essential soft talent related to positivity is optimism. It's the conviction that particular actions will produce desired, favorable results. Your workplace will be far more joyful if you develop a sense of certainty in the knowledge that achievement is always attainable.

Additionally, some studies and research papers show how optimism can enhance job performance and even personal wellness.

Hard Sales Skills vs Soft Sales Skills

The hard sales skills are the ones you can study and practice; these include creating pitches, following up on leads, keeping your word, and so forth. Soft talents, which have to do with personality and interpersonal communication, are those that you can't learn.

What matters more? According to the task. Hard skills will be essential in a sales position where there are few customers but many opportunities for new business because they will help you close deals quickly.

Soft skills, on the other hand, will be prioritized if the position requires you to assist current customers as well as anyone who approaches you to ask a question or offer a suggestion because they'll help you establish a rapport with everyone in the room—which is crucial if your clientele includes VIPs or celebrities!

Why Sales Professionals Need Soft Skills

It is impossible to exaggerate the value of soft skills in sales. Proper application of these abilities will make it much simpler for sales reps to close agreements, establish rapport with clients, and earn their trust.

Salespeople who have strong interpersonal skills tend to get along better with other people on a deeper level— which makes it easier for them to build relationships that lead to more opportunities for growth and advancement within the company. This also means they're likely to have higher closing rates than those who don't have these same abilities.

Soft skills are crucial for all employees, even those who aren't salespeople because they enable you to develop connections with coworkers, clients, and other stakeholders in your company.

How to Develop Soft Sales Skills

  • Be inquiring.

  • Pose open-ended questions.

  • Listen closely.

  • Be understanding.

  • Make positive statements.

  • Possess a positive outlook.

Soft Skills Examples

soft sales skills examples

Your interactions with clients in person and online are considered sales soft skills abilities. They're not just about generating a sale; they're about how you interact with individuals to assist them in solving their difficulties.

Here are three examples of soft skills:

  1. Pay attention to the buyer. Even if they are not yet aware of it, a skilled listener can infer what the other person needs. Asking questions and following up on responses, whether they are given orally or in writing, are also parts of listening (through email).

  2. Be understanding. Empathy is the ability to understand another person's perspective and feelings, even when those feelings don't always align with your own. When it comes time to sell something significant, like an investment plan or a change request form for your car insurance policy (gasp!), this helps you develop trust with your customers and understand their perspectives.

  3. Be an effective communicator. Nobody wants to be talked over, so communication entails listening intently as well as speaking out when necessary. The best soft sellers circumvent this issue by posing open-ended questions that invite detailed responses rather than affirmative or negative responses (for instance: "I'm curious as to why this product isn't working for me right now? What could we possibly change?").

Sometimes it's better to just speak honestly than to wait around forever for everyone to feel secure enough to open up again.

Bottom Line

Hard sales abilities and soft skills are both critical to a sales professional's overall performance. Making sales relies heavily on having great communication skills and the ability to make people feel comfortable. Sales reps who can understand and care about the demands of their clients will always be more successful than those who cannot, which is why it’s crucial to develop soft skills. We can work to improve our industry knowledge and selling process by integrating sales soft skills into our everyday work. It’s a benefit for everyone, and it’ll be well worth the time implemented in training.