3 Essential Soft Skills to Include in Your Sales Training

Research conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Center has all concluded that 85% of job success comes from having well‐developed soft and people skills, and only 15% of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge.

It’s a simple formula. We like people who understand us and treat us well. This is why we repeatedly go to the same restaurants for our meals. The food obviously matters but the service is what makes it more special. The world of sales is all about communicating with people and building long lasting and trustworthy relationships. Technical know-how and product knowledge is obviously important, but it is self awareness and emotional intelligence that sets the gap that distinguishes true achievers from the average sales rep.

People with high emotional intelligence average $29,000 more income per year.

~ Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves in Emotional Intelligence 2.0.

To achieve success in any kind of business, one needs to master sales. Unfortunately, most learning plans do not focus on imparting soft skills. The importance of practical and technical training cannot be denied, but soft skills are important as organisations struggle to find new ways to stay ahead of their game. For example, your sales team might be very good in getting clients, but not so good at retaining them. It is important to analyze where these gaps exist and make sure your sales reps know to handle different kinds of situation. Even a simple “Tip of the Day,” a motivational video or a product update video that can be accessed anytime could be included in your learning plan as a part of the sales training strategy.

Studies show that of all new hires who fail in the first 18 months, 89% of those failures are due to attitude problems.

~ Source

Although personalities cannot be “taught,” studies have shown that with the right kind of training, professionals can be groomed in a way that can help them to recognise and understand their own moods, emotions and drives. Below is a look at 5 soft skills that definitely need to be incorporated in sales training for success:

1. Communication skills

Only 22% of executives feel that salespeople “understand their issues and where they can help.”

~ Forrester Research

Communicating well is one of the most important sales techniques. It is an art and needs to be done right. Such communication includes spoken, written or any kind of digital communication. There is no rule book when it comes to this. It will vary as per the type of customer, the solution, what is needed and other variable factors. The prospect needs to be kept looped into conversations at various stages of the sales process. Right from the time the prospect is approached to the time closure happens, the kind of communication for different kinds of responses needs to be understood by your sales reps. In simple terms, your reps and your prospect should understand each other well.

Miscommunication costs businesses $37 billion (or $26k per employee) in the US and UK every year.

sales process

The right kind of communication is important because it ensures that your product is actually needed to solve a problem and not being forced upon. Sales people spend 90% of their day communicating, either through phone calls, reaching out or replying to emails. Having solid communication skills is important which requires a great understanding of the prospect and his problems.

Organizations that learn effective communication are nearly five times as likely to retain the best employees.

2. Empathy

Empathy is the key to great customer service. Empathy is one of the most important soft skill to have as it involves offering the much needed solutions to prospects by giving them the space to explain themselves and be understood. Successful selling is always about offering solutions over products. Sales reps need to be able to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and relate to the way they feel. Listening to clients intently, letting them open up making sure the solution being offered is of some value to them are signs of being empathetic.


3. Positive attitude

The average sales person only makes 2 attempts to reach a prospect.

~ Sirius Decisions

The number of NO’s a sales person hears is high. Most sales reps might have a problem with dealing with negative responses from clients. It is important to understand this as a part of the process and not get demotivated or feel low. Starting from being always on the lookout for fresh business to not hesitating to follow up, an undying positive attitude needs to be inculcated into the minds of the sales reps in order to make them successful. A positive attitude can lead to a growth minded mentality which sees failure not as an embarrassment but as a learning experience.

sales techniques

Technology will play a crucial role in ensuring that you are able to deliver such training as a part of your learning program. A complete suite which includes blended and online learning solutions along with an enriched analytic view of how the training has been received and impacted on revenues and kept the learners engaged is a solutions organisation will eventually look out for.

Have anything to add to this? Let us know in the comments section!

About the Author

Bhaswati B

Bhaswati is a Product Specialist at Capabiliti, a mobile-first training and engagement solution for enterprises. Passionate about economics, Bhaswati also loves storytelling. She has a keen interest in start-ups, food and travel. In her 'me time' she picks up fiction novels, tries different cuisines or explores routes to less-traveled places on the world map. Follow her @Bhaswatibh