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Getting into sales: Top skills valued in sales reps and associates

When it comes time for a prospective sales rep or associate to break into their chosen industry, a number of questions arise. For many, the importance of certain skills comes into much clearer focus. This guide is here to provide further insight into the sales associate skills that are most valued.

A Closer Look At The Top Skills Valued In Sales Reps and Associates

1. Knowledge of the Products

A sales rep or associate is only as effective as the information that they have. Any new representative who is not taking the time to learn about the products inside and out is placing themselves at a disadvantage. How does the product work? What service does it offer the customer?

These are questions that the sales rep should be able to answer, in full detail. The best sales associates can outline all of the reasons why the product appeals to their company’s target audience. The deeper the product knowledge, the easier it becomes for a sales rep to separate themselves from the pack.

2. The Ability to Build Rapport

Nowadays, the average consumer has already done much of the research on their own. By the time they are ready to make a final decision, the sales rep simply needs to bring it on home, so to speak. Today’s sales associates are also not always able to have face to face meetings. This makes the establishment of rapport even more important.

Those who succeed at an entry level sales job have a natural gift for speaking with customers. No one wants to feel like they are just another number. The consumers of today are too savvy. When it comes to today’s buyers, their needs tend to be fully identified before they engage with sales representatives. Furthermore, nearly half of these buyers have identified specific solutions before they reach out, according to a report from CSO Insights.

These skills can be be built, though, so don’t fret if you are not a natural. It’s as easy as finding some form of common ground with the client. Some may be able to chat about the weather. Others could find that common ground in the sporting world. It does not matter what topic you choose, rapport cannot ever be taken for granted.

3. Active Listening

Learning how to get into sales is all about putting the customer first. While the average sales rep is great at presenting their side of the conversation, the best sales reps are top notch listeners. Consumers want to know that their sales reps are actively paying attention. Some companies are even using virtual reality to enhance their customers’ experience.

There are a number of ways to demonstrate high quality listening skills, too. For starters, asking good follow up questions is a great way to show your true level of investment in the conversation. The client wants someone who is able to empathize with their pain points. The more time you spend actively listening, the easier it becomes to offer a viable solution.

4. Volume and Pace of Speech

The volume and pace that is used during an entry level sales job will play a major role in your level of success. Experts believe that 93 percent of communication is nonverbal. There are a number of key sales associate skills but one old saying is sure to ring in your ears. It’s not what you say but how you say it!

It is in your best interest to mirror the client’s manner of speech, in the most subtle way possible. If the client is someone who is more soft spoken and business oriented, it is in your best interests to emulate them. Some clients are going to be less formal and more laid back. It’s okay to do the same in these instances.

Don’t make the mistake of joking around with a client that does not seem to be in the mood for it. At the same time, you do not want to be too formal if the situation does not call for it. Speak clearly and talk to the client in the manner that they prefer. By letting your true personality shine through, you are allowing the person you are speaking with to know that they are important to you.

5. Proper Analysis of Business Needs

To start off the sales conversation properly, the right questions have to be asked. In addition to the questions that have already been discussed above, the discovery phase is of the utmost importance. Clients do not want to have random features and benefits tossed in their direction. This tactic is as good as throwing random ideas at the wall to see what sticks.

In other words, there’s no reason to have a surface level conversation with the client. How can the product solve the client’s pain points? What are the specific needs associated with their business? These questions will direct the rest of the conversation and what is shared by the sales rep. Proper analysis of a business’ needs is one of the most crucial sales associate skills of all.

This is one of the most crucial sales associate skills of all. A presentation to a client needs to function as its own living, breathing entity. If you are relying on a presentation that has already been written up ahead of time, you are not working on your sales associate skills. Learn more about the client’s actual criteria by asking the right questions.

6. Time Management

Time management is a key skill for anyone who is starting an entry level sales job. This is a position that is also supported by scientific research. Studies show that less than 30 percent of all sales personnel are able to establish structured time management methodology. Anyone who is learning how to get into sales is going to struggle unless you are taking the time to put these guardrails in place.

It should go without saying but making the most of your time is vital to your success. You should be able to follow a fairly strict daily regimen that will keep you on track. In the world of sales, those who dawdle are only hurting themselves. There are a number of sales associate skills that need to be developed and lead sorting is one of them.

No one can afford to go through every single lead that comes their way. The best time managers know how to sift through them very quickly and focus on the ones that are sure to be most helpful. They do not waste time contacting each lead individually. Don’t waste valuable time and effort on deals and leads that are not destined to go anywhere. Each hour of the day has to be maximized.

7. Handling Objections (and Preventing Them In The First Place)

To be fair, this skill is divided into two different categories: objection prevention and handling. Before getting started at any entry level sales job, you’ll have to learn more about the differences between the two. For those who are looking for a quick crash course, the answer is a very simple one. Objection prevention is proactive and objection handling is more active.

That does not mean that either skill is more important than the other. You need to have both of them in your toolbox if you are going to succeed over the long haul. Since objection prevention needs to be taking place first, this is the best place to start. You can avoid all of the issues that are associated with objection handling by nipping the issue in the bud from the beginning.

Sales rep need to be well trained and they also need to have a strong idea of what is coming next once they start speaking with a client. You will have to take the time to study the cases that you are going to be dealing with, so that you can get out in front of potential objections. For example, a client should never have a chance to tell you that they do not have a need for the products or services at hand.

The more you know about common objections, the better. If you have to handle an objection, it helps to realize that even the best associates run into objections that they cannot prevent. Sales reps that are not prepared are not going to be able to handle the objection and the deal will die on the vine. Remain empathetic and willing to answer any questions that come up.

Do you have a sincere understanding of the client’s issues? Are you asking for the right information? The more clarity you have, the easier it becomes to handle the objection. Some sales teams may even engage in role playing before meeting with clients, to bolster their reps’ level of confidence.

8. Demonstration of the Product

In many instances, the sales representative will need to offer up a demonstration of the goods and services. This is how someone who is working an entry level sales job is able to stand out from all of the other presentations that the client is going to be offered. By offering a helpful demo, this lets the client know if you are able to solve their pain points.

What benefits are going to be most helpful to the client? How are you going to go about highlighting the upsides? There are too many sales representatives who lose their clients’ interest by throwing too many features their way too quickly. This is overwhelming to the client, making them feel like they are being pitched to.

Presentation is everything. Learning how to get into sales may seem easy but this is one of the nuances that trips up inexperienced representatives. The goods and services need to be shown off properly, so that all questions are answered by the time you are done speaking.

9. Closing Techniques

So you have made your way to the end of the sales process and now it is time to close. That’s great news, of course. However, you are not out of the woods yet. You can have all of the sales associate skills in the world and still flame out when it comes time to close. The client may be convinced that they need the product in question but that does not mean that the deal is done.

Prospects may be under the false belief that they are able to push back the agreement date to a different time. This is not something that any entry level sales representative can allow themselves to agree to. The representative is the one who has to dictate the timeline. Once you allow them to decide when the deal is completed, you have already lost out.

There’s no reason to rely on pressure alone to complete the transaction, though. All you need to do is establish a firm timeline and demonstrate the value of the product. Make sure that the prospect knows the full value of closing the deal today, without any unnecessary waiting.

10. Managing Relationships Post Sale

The relationship is not over once the sale is completed. The best sales representatives understand that this is an ongoing process. The customer needs to be thanked and the relationship needs to be nurtured well after the sale has taken place. This is common courtesy, as well as common sense.

An appreciative sales rep is a sales rep that is continuously building their sales associate skills and mastering their craft. A customer that does not feel appreciated is far more likely to speak with competitors in the future. Relationships are everything, even in the sales world. Post sale engagement is the special sauce that keeps these connections alive going forward.

Before decide to take an entry level sales job, these are the skills that need to be cultivated. There are sales personnel who are true naturals but even they need to actively work to improve their abilities. The power remains in your hands at all times. All that’s left to do now is harness it!

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