Candidates who are interested in a career in sales, start at the entry-level. First roles are typically inbound sales, generating or processing customer leads into conversions for their employer. A career in sales can also lead to rapid advancement if the professional demonstrates a strong aptitude for creating measurable results.
What are the core skills that employers look for when they are recruiting sales professionals? Our recruiters have identified seven (7) unique attributes that all high-performing sales representatives have in common.
1. Superior Oral and Written Communication Skills
One thing that all top-performing sales professionals have in common? They are adept in conversational skills. They need to enjoy talking to prospective customers, because their job, from initial recruitment to negotiation and closing, and success rate all stem from their ability to communicate effectively.
Written communication skills are also critical for sales representatives. Email marketing is one way that sales teams’ canvas through industry leads, to nurture a response and make a product or service proposition. While templates are often provided, each communication must be customized. And that requires proficiency in business writing.
2. Ability to Collaborate with Teams Effectively
There are many instances where sales professionals must collaborate with other members of the team. They may require a customized contract, approval for a fee or wholesale quote and help facilitate sales processing. Either by entering a ticket or message to the billing department or creating an accurate quote and sending it to the customer.
Sales representatives are not only responsible for executing and closing the sale, but they also help ensure that the process is streamlined for the customer. That can mean a double-check with the fulfillment team or with the CSA department to ensure that the client receives their order, service or good.
To expedite sales processing, a professional could also do some follow-up and push-pull to ensure that the deliverable is provided. The highest performing sales representatives have a strong team orientation. They know how to collaborate effectively with other departments to get the job done.
3. Social Selling Skills and Online Networking
How many deals do you think started on LinkedIn? Consider how often you receive a pitch or a prospecting inquiring by LinkedIn private message? For most businesses, LinkedIn is a primary resource for qualified B2B leads. And top-performing sales representatives must be comfortable using LinkedIn, or any social network to sell.
Knowing how to use the software is just one aspect of social selling and online networking. Customer relationship management means staying in touch for follow up. Sales representatives must ensure that they are being persistent. At the same time, they cannot apply extensive pressure that would turn a warm lead into a cold one.
4. Proficient in Active Listening
How many times have you heard a sales professional make the pitch, without actually listening to the customer? Top performing sales professionals are always profiling the customer to determine unique needs and create a successful value proposition.
Closing a deal starts with active listening. Sales professionals must understand the product or service benefits (and explain them well). But where the most effective client presentations happen, is when the sales representative quickly defines the needs of the customer. And then positions the product to meet those needs or solve those problems.
Successful sales professionals have empathy. They listen well and ask questions. They are inquisitive and eager to find a resolution for the customer.
5. Drive for Discovery of Prospects and Researching Opportunities
In some sales environments, leads are provided. But in many cases, sales professionals have to source their own connections to prospects. And this takes both persistence and creativity to find new approaches to customer recruitment.
Sales representatives may prospect through virtual events or conferences. They may comment on industry webinars and groups on social media, sharing videos or posts about the business they represent. But always there has to be a strong drive to continue to explore every opportunity to introduce themselves to prospective buyers.
6. Strong Negotiation Skills
It takes a strong personality and a great deal of confidence (and experience) to execute a successful sales negotiation. Sales representatives can be salaried, but many earn bonuses based on personal production and conversions. Employers incentivize results, and top-level sales professionals like to achieve those results. And they are driven to receive the reward, no matter what the incentive is.
Strong negotiation skills take practice. It is a fine balance between being persuasive to convince and convert the prospect into a sale. Push too lightly? The sale will not close. Push too hard? The customer may walk away. Knowing that fine line between ‘enough’ and ‘not enough’ take skill. And years of experience.
The temptation to always ‘make the customer happy’ is great for a sales professional. They want to cultivate a positive experience for the customer and build loyalty. At the same time, during the negotiation process, the need to make the customer happy must also be balanced with the bottom-line profitability goals of the company.
Would you let a large customer walk because they were unwilling to accept the cost of the goods or services they wish to buy? Experienced sales representatives know the range that they must negotiate within. And they will walk away if that benchmark cannot be met.
7. High Level of Digital Fluency
Sales professionals are not always tethered to a desk in the office. Many are constantly on-the-move, scheduling in-person meetings with prospective B2B clients or customers. High performing sales professionals must be comfortable working remotely.
Digital fluency is an important skill. Sales professionals are often required to use productivity software to collaborate with other team members and managers. They must be comfortable using customer relationship management (CRM) software like Salesforce or HubSpot. Other software for contact management, contract administration (i.e., DocuSign) and contract software like Adobe Acrobat, and teleconferencing platforms like Zoom.
Because high-performing sales representatives may handle confidential and proprietary information, they must also be comfortable using IT security protocols. That can mean connecting to a VPN or secure business network in or outside of the office.
Types of Sales Roles That Are High-Paying and in High-Demand
At reesmarx, we source human capital and experienced sales professionals for our clients. Mid-level and enterprise organizations are constantly growing their sales team and looking for leadership and experienced candidates. Particularly those who can demonstrate a portfolio of results. Sharing achievements and benchmarks they realized for past employers.
Some of the careers in sales that are in high demand both in the United States and globally include:
- Pharmaceutical Sales
- Inside Sales Representatives
- Territory Sales Managers
- Medical Device Sales Executive
- Sales Engineers
- Outside Sales Representatives
- Director of Sales
- Product Managers
As part of our comprehensive review and recruitment process, we source candidates who have proven they can produce results. Contact us today to learn more about our global recruitment services. We provide expert recruitment to connect high-growth companies with top tier talent, in thirty countries worldwide.