Sales, like any other field of occupation, requires its people to hone, work on, and keep evolving throughout the sales processes. While there are multiple skills that go into the making of an excellent salesperson, the relevance of soft skills can never be ruled out or undermined.
With the recent studies depicting that there are almost as good as 90% of salespeople who feel the need to work on their soft skills, there is also evidence that these people who have developed soft skills have higher chances of cracking the deals and achieving better targets.
Communication skills are an integral part of a salesperson’s life. A lot of the deals depend on the way they speak and how better they convey their explanation to the customer. The power of convincing, the clarity of thought, the ability to read the buyer personas, are all essential to becoming an outstanding salesperson. Therefore, it is important to sharpen the soft skills along with the other skills that are required by the job.
In this article, we shall learn about:
- Soft Skills and Hard Skills: What are They?
- Top 5 ways to sharpen soft skills in the workplace
- How to spot soft skills during the hiring process
Soft Skills and Hard Skills: What are They?
We discussed soft skills and also the other skills that are needed for you to be in the role of a salesperson. In this section, we shall learn about the soft skills, the hard skills, and the dissimilarities between the two.
Soft skills, as we know, are not restricted to a particular professional field. Anyone can learn and practice the soft skills and apply them in their respective areas. Let's look at the list of the soft skills people can possess: empathy, creativity, adaptability, accountability, and so on.
However, when we speak of sales, we would require to fine-tune these skills and further drill down to the ones mentioned here:
In a supportive environment, teamwork encourages open communication and collaboration, rather than competition. The best team players are focused on both their personal and team-wide goals and are quick to offer assistance to colleagues in need. They make their teams more productive and therefore make more money.
Sales professionals create and manage relationships with clients. Your sales team will have a greater chance of closing qualified sales and building the foundation for long-term business relationships if you can nurture clients through relationship selling.
Your representatives are more likely to communicate with prospects tactfully if they have solid communication skills. Having solid communication skills helps them spot hot buttons and adjust accordingly. They will save time and money by cutting out unnecessary steps and efficiently overcoming obstacles.
The right soft skills help your reps reach their sales targets. They also position them as trusted and valuable resources at the workplace and help them positively impact their work environments.
You need hard skills to meet the challenges of your job. Courses, internal training, and on-the-job training can be used for acquiring and sharpening these skills.
- Basic Computer Skills
- Project Management Skills
- Presentation Skills
- Writing and Analytical Skills
- Certifications pertaining to the role
- Educational achievements and degrees
Top 5 Methods to Sharpen Soft Skills in the Workplace
When you are learning a hard skill, you know that there are a set of rules that define that skill, which makes it easy to learn. For example, learning a programming language or completing a degree course. It is relatively easy to learn hard skills.
Then there are Soft skills that are difficult to recognize and undertake. If you want to succeed, you need to take action and think outside the box. Reps who learn new soft skills and sales managers who hire, train, and measure soft skills benefit from a growth mindset.
Here is a list of skills that you can learn:
More responsibilities for the reps
Your reps are busy people who have many tasks to complete while they are generating revenue. At times, these huge piles of work may give them a feeling of being underpaid. Irrespective of the many tasks the reps handle, there is still so much expected of them. This eventually lets the work overflow from the basket and leads to the spilling of the tasks.
This is the time when you can train them exceptionally well in communication skills and let them take on the new tasks with renewed enthusiasm. Moreover, training them in communication skills does not mean putting them on a course or letting them take long breaks from work and instructing them to study. You can simply ask them to start cold calling to practice certain areas of their communication skills that they feel they are weak at.
This will help them to:
- Improve time management skills
- Better handle stress and impromptu situations
- Enhance their customer relationship management
Develop rapports beyond the office space
Your reps are consistently dealing with customers and prospects on phone or in person. This is a situation that constantly assesses them on various levels. They are convincing clients and simultaneously dealing with customer objections. To summarize, they are continuously venturing into newer areas, more spaces beyond their comfort zone.
This helps them to:
- Be an Active Listener
- Become a great storyteller
Recognize Opportunities to Help Out
While climbing the stairs of success, some reps will have it easy due to being naturally gifted and some may not be able to cope up with the immense pressure. This should be taken as an opportunity to help by the reps who are swiftly moving ahead.
This helps them to:
- Develop empathy
- Identify leads and quality prospects
- Cultivate long-term relationships and result in customer satisfaction.
Encourage to be Proactive
As a sales manager, you can let the reps develop skills on the way when they aspire to become sales managers and business owners down the line. Apparently, sales reps are a bunch of ambitious people who love to grow and look forward with a lot of optimism to optimize their sales operations.
As a senior, you can lead the way and nudge them to take up proactively some skills.
This will let them to:
- Be prompt and proactive for the oncoming tasks, such as finding qualified leads in the sales funnel
- Come up with solutions in moments of troubles
- Work out tactics to bring improvements
Learn and Hone Through Industrial Expertise
When your reps are up on the podium, representing your product or service to a prospect, it is of dire importance that they know the intricate details about it. When the customers ask questions about the product, the reps are expected to know and present the solutions to them. Moreover, with an increasingly updating field of technology and sales process, the reps also need to keep up with the pace and be in sync with the changing times.
This will encourage the reps to:
- Sign up to industry-specific publications and magazines
- Gain social progress
- Be a part of industry events
These are some of the activities your reps can take up and you, as a sales manager, persuade them to undertake. These would prove to be extremely beneficial for them in the long run to nurture their dreams for a better future.
How to Spot Soft Skills During the Hiring Process
If you are a hiring manager, you will come across various resumes and self-descriptions of the candidates. These documents will give you a broad information of the candidate’s hard skills like the computer efficiency, their degrees, certifications, and so on. However, how should you judge them on their soft skills?
Here is how you can achieve that:
Train your team
While hiring, you can pass on the information to your hiring team as well to keep a close watch on the candidate’s soft skills. You and your team can:
- Ask specific questions that lets you estimate their skills
- Ask behavioral questions that lets you know about the candidate’s abilities to overcome challenging situations.
Reflecting on past wrong hiring
Every company has a past and record of onboarding the people with whom their processes didn’t work out. So, while you are hiring this time around, learn from the past and remember the points for the future. So, now when you have a new set of people in front of you, you can do the following:
- Recall what we missed the last time?
- Understand and write down why did you miss them initially
- Identify the reasons for the candidate’s failure
- Was the candidate lacking in terms of soft skills?
Asking these questions will help you rule out hiring a wrong candidate to a huge extent.
How can Deskera Help You?
A sales rep with good communication will take care of a lot of businesses around his role. However, you will be able to generate great figures on the chart only when you have all the other sales and accounting aspects covered as well. Deskera CRM and Deskera CRM Plus are tools you need to make that world of a difference from the way you process your sales and orders.
Using Deskera CRM, you can digitize customer service. You can also utilize this software to plan out your team's work to improve preciseness.
Run through this short video to learn more about Deskera CRM:
Here are some of the points we must look back on before we wrap it up:
- There is also evidence that these people who have developed soft skills have higher chances of cracking the deals and achieving better targets.
- There are soft skills and hard skills that a sales candidate can possess.
- Soft skills are the skills which are difficult to judge right at the onset. Some examples of soft skills are empathy, hard work, team work, managing relations, and so on.
- Hard skills are a person’s technical abilities, their degrees and certifications that could be easily measured.
- Assigning more responsibilities to the reps, helping them develop rapports beyond the office space, and encouraging them to be proactive are some of the ways in which you can encourage the team to sharpen their soft skills.
- Training your hiring team and reflecting on the previous experiences are the ways to spot soft skills in the new sales candidates.