The sales function has been one of the most affected ones by the big data revolution. Some skills remain perennially important; first and foremost, being able to persuasively explain the benefit of a product or service and drive conversion. However, with more customer information available than ever, it’s those who harness the true power of data that will get ahead.

Many of the core abilities that define a great sales professional come down to attitude, however, there are also key skills and capabilities which can be fine-tuned for success. Here are 10 of the top skills that will drive sales teams forward in 2019.

1. Negotiation

Strong and confident communicators make excellent salespeople. In particular, the ability to negotiate is key and can mean the difference between a successful sales deal and losing a lead to a competitor. These attributes are highly prized in a sales environment. Professionals that have an open and friendly personality with the ability to build fast rapport, tend to develop long-lasting business relationships. This is key in a market of uncertainty and high competition.

2. Solution selling

It is becoming increasingly common for sales teams to work more collaboratively in order to pitch and sell full package solutions. The shift away from the traditional model whereby separate teams sell different products or services, has meant that the role of a sales professional has become more consultative. This is particularly true within the IT sector. Solution selling is a key skill in the sales sector and those professionals who do it well, bring tremendous value to a business.

3. Planning/pipeline planning

Planning is fundamental to the success of any sales team, whether this is preparing a sales pitch or scoping out a sales pipeline. Professionals who are experienced in setting targets, developing strategies to achieve sales, and effectively managing those targets, have always been highly prized in the sales sector. All sound business decisions should be data-driven and strategic in order to achieve the overall business goals; in this regard, sales is no different.

4. Territory mapping

Any experienced sales professional will be well versed and competent in territory mapping. Measuring a team’s sales is essential to ensure that organisations can monitor the progress and profitability of business regions, and also identify high performing staff or employees who may need further development. Businesses know that retaining top talent is fundamental to success and that professionals with great territory mapping expertise, gather essential data. Using this information, managers can also help ensure profitability, but also the longer-term development of the wider sales team to retain top talent.

5. Competitor analysis

In sales, it is essential that a thorough competitor analysis is carried out on a regular basis to assess and monitor the market. With new products and services emerging, growing competition, and shifting consumer attitudes, a clear and well-rounded understanding of market conditions is not only a useful sales tool, but a crucial guide for all sales professionals. Taking a proactive approach to identify risks and opportunities has never been more important, and territory mapping provides the foundation for a sales team to drive business growth.

6. Aptitude for learning

An aptitude and desire for learning is a quality that is particularly valuable in sales. As top talent is in such high demand, upskilling and development have become key. Professionals with the core sales capabilities, who learn fast and efficiently, can quickly take on new areas of a market or step up into new roles. Beyond this, professionals who are driven by their career development and are self-motivated to do so, can bring in new insights, create positive conflict, and challenge the status quo. This, in turn, can boost morale and create healthy competition within a team.

7. Specialist market knowledge

Every market is unique. There are different challenges, opportunities, and even preferred styles of communication when dealing with a sales company. Professionals who have a history of working within a particular market sector, or have operated within a sales team for a particular sector, can offer great insight and are therefore valuable additions to any sector-specific sales team.

8. Influencing

A skill which goes hand-in-hand with negotiating, influencing is key in any sales role. The ability to persuade or influence a customer's purchasing decision is fundamental to a great sell. Professionals with the tactical, yet persuasive skills to navigate a deal towards a business's preferred conditions, or upsell where the opportunity arises, are highly valuable additions to any sales team.

9. Confidence

A confident sales professional not only exudes positivity, but they also evoke a level of trust with their clients and customers. This trust reflects on the brand and product that they are representing which is highly valuable for any business. A confident sales team is proactive, resilient, and positive, all of which contribute to a productive output and strong revenue. Success breeds success and so confidence is often a by-product of a proven track record.

10. Presentation skills

Presentation skills are essential in a number of roles, but in sales, the way in which a professional presents a pitch to a client can make or break a deal. The ability to pull together a concise, yet engaging presentation and showcase this in a clear and compelling way is key in a market that is saturated with choice and where competition is fierce. Finding new and innovative ways to do this is a way to really stand out against the competition.

As leading recruiters with a global network, we have an extensive database of top talented professionals to take your business to the next level, helping you to stay ahead of the competition.

For a confidential discussion on how we can help you get the best talent with the right skills, get in touch with one of our specialist recruitment consultants today.

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