Sales- Gut level skills

Not everyone is a born salesperson. Sales contains a rare group of skills, at its highest level. These skills translate well across all industries, and in commerce they're essential. If you can stand the pace, you have a multiple choice of careers.

Sales are the heart of commerce. To operate at all, economies are based on sales. People who understand the realities of sales are invaluable to business, and essential to government.

The basic sales skills are essentials of marketing, and excellent training for marketing. The product is given promotional treatment, and the customer is motivated. Sounds simple, but in practice you can either do that or you can't.

Salespeople have excellent people skills. They can establish a relationship with clients quickly and well. That relationship is the real basis of any sale. They're not just selling a product, they're selling a personal service. Really good salespeople have ongoing personal relationships with clients. That's no minor achievement, bearing in mind the client is also committing a personal element in a business context.

However, that relationship is also often a very good move for the client. Professional sales people are experts. Their level of knowledge can be exceptional, and particularly useful. The kind of advice a good salesperson can give a client is very valuable, and always practical. Some salespeople can actually train clients in their own businesses.

Sales careers are high octane careers. The amount of energy and application required to be a successful sales person is huge. Use of time is also demanding, with an ongoing need to use that time effectively.

There's a good reason for that. The common image of sales is a pressure environment, and although the media image of salespeople is ludicrously oversimplified, it is an entirely numbers-driven environment. Sales figures are defining elements of business, and sales performance has a lot to do with business efficiency.

So the pressure environment does have a basis in fact, even if it looks almost irrational to outsiders. There's also a management element which gets overlooked, too, in the demand for performance from salespeople. People who aren't selling often aren't just under-performing. The difference between a natural salesperson and normal people is that the salesperson is a consistent outperformer, compared to others.

The brutal fact is that managers need to get the real salespeople. Sales are the bread and butter of any business. Anyone who isn't selling isn't an asset, and in fact is a liability, using up time and space, as well as money. That means those who can't cut it get cut themselves, faster than in just about any other line of work. That part of the image of the salesperson is quite true.

That may well be better than trying to cope with the sales environment. Natural salespeople barely even notice it, until they're responsible for sales figures. Then, it's an instinctive reaction to remove those who can't handle the pace. The demand for sales skills is that intense.

Those skills are extensive at career level:

  • Stakeholder relationship skills
  • Internal and external client skills
  • Negotiation skills,
  • Communications skills of a high level
  • High level of technical knowledge of products and services
  • Current industry experience
  • Proven sales record
  • Complaints skills
  • Accounts management skills (Managing client accounts)
  • Knowledge and understanding of sales law, including contract law

If that looks like at least part of every job ad you've ever seen, it is. That's how vast the skill set is. The rewards can be huge, too. Top level salespeople can almost dictate their own salaries and commissions, because they deliver much more in terms of sales volumes. High sales improve any balance sheet, and good salespeople are always somewhere near the top income bracket of any organization.

Sales also operates in close conjunction with marketing. Management needs marketing to conduct business. Advertising is used as a broad brush sales technique, but salespeople are the insurance against mistakes. Marketing and advertising are major commitments. A business can get badly damaged by ineffective marketing. It can suffer from risks created by advertising which breaches laws or includes legal liabilities.

Sales people are the built-in monitor for marketing. The sales manager is ultimately the person who has to find the problems, and identify the failures of advertising and marketing. That's a huge responsibility in some organizations. The sales division has to clean up the mess, and get the business back on track.