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10 Sales Skills to Help You Excel at Work

10 Sales Skills to Help You Excel at Work

Of course, developing your sales skills is critical when your goal is to sell a service or a product. However, one of the lesser known benefits of sales skills is that they help you to become more persuasive and influential at work, regardless of your profession.

Much of the time that you spend at the workplace consists of influencing people. For example, you might want them to provide you with a deliverable or with some type of information, or you are asking them to support a project.

In all of these cases, you are requesting that people give up something in exchange for something else. You are asking them to give some of their attention span, credibility, time, or resources so that you can get your job done.

Yes. You are selling them. Therefore, developing and improving sales skills is vital in any profession. Here are 10 of these skills that everyone should know to gain a competitive edge in the workplace:

1) Research

Gather information to help you better understand the general context and all the stakeholders.

How would you expect somebody to believe you are trying to help them when you haven’t done your basic homework?

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It’s one of the most important sales skills. If you do your research properly, you’lll be perceived as a competent person to work with and you’ll avoid those blunders that are hard to recover from. Research can involve searching on google, checking social media, or calling contacts in your network who can give you a better grasp of what’s really going on.

2) Build rapport

Keep conversing and find similarities.

Without rapport, talking is meaningless. Your coworkers are still human beings, not pawns that can be manipulated at will. Make the effort to treat them as such. Ask them about their hobbies, their family, and their job. However, don’t forget to talk about yourself–it must be a two-way street.

3) Ask questions

Be curious.

Skilled salesmen ask questions – and so should you. Understanding the real needs of the other person is the start of success.

Asking questions will help you to understand and influence the other person. When you are using questions, you are always keeping your coworker engaged. You are gathering feedback, which will lead to mutual solutions that will make you shine at work. Questions are a weapon of choice in your sales skills toolbox.

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4) Listen actively

Listen. Really listen.

Are you really listening to the other person? With active listening, you are constantly checking whether you have properly understood your coworkers. How many presentations have you sat through and taken nothing away from?

With active listening, you are honoring the other person’s time and yours as well. The secret of active listening is to reformulate what you have heard and check with your coworker that is what was originally meant. This great sales skill is truly beneficial at work.

5) Gain trust

Earn trust with impeccable behavior.

Would you buy from someone you don’t trust? Or would you want to rely on someone you don’t trust?

Trust is the basic foundation of teamwork. Gaining trust is a sales skill that you should definitely apply in the workplace. It requires transparency and sticking to your promises. If you do so, you will naturally gain more and more trust from your colleagues.

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6) Make difficult decisions confidently

Make decisions like a leader.

Salespeople need to constantly make decisions, such as choosing which prospect to prioritize, what solution to propose, or when to close. The greatest decisions require courage, because choosing a solution means giving up opportunities. Young salespeople learn this skill very early in their careers.

If you also learn to decide and serenely say NO to new opportunities and YES to others, you are giving yourself more chances to succeed at work.

7) Be creative

Find unique and tailored solutions.

Your colleague may have a problem that they have been struggling with for weeks or months. If you manage to be creative enough to help them find a solution, they will be so thankful that they’ll welcome any opportunity to return the favor.

Creativity is one of those words that gets tossed around a lot, but it comes naturally when two or more people talk together openly. New ideas are just old ideas seen from a new perspective. Think outside the box!

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8) Tell stories

Use narratives that engage. Your colleagues, like prospective customers, are busy. It is difficult for them to give you their full attention.

If you want your information to stand out from the rest, you may need to wrap your message in a story. Stories help people contextualize new information into something that is meaningful to them. We’re all trained to shut up and listen when somebody starts a story.

9) Seal the deal

Alec Baldwin kept repeating the ABC of Sales, “Always Be Closing,” as he was playing the charismatic and take-no-prisoner-style sales trainer in the film Glengarry Glenn Ross.

You need to influence your coworkers to explicitly commit. Whether you ask them for a confirmation email or simply shake hands in agreement, you need to seal the deal. People will be far more likely to follow through if you do this.

10) Network

Find new opportunities.

Salespeople might be looking for new prospects, while you might be looking for new positions. Every opportunity counts, and you could very well find a new and exciting opportunity by going to Jen’s birthday event in the break room.

Every friend starts as a stranger, and establishing a network of friends in your business will yield new and exciting opportunities.

Featured photo credit: Bells Design – gratisography.com via media.lifehack.org

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

20 Critical Skills to Include on Your Resume (For All Types of Jobs)

20 Critical Skills to Include on Your Resume (For All Types of Jobs)

A resume describes your critical skills in a way that compels a hiring manager to want to meet you. That is a resume’s sole purpose.

And make no mistake: Writing a resume is an art.

Today each corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes on average, and somehow yours will need to rise above the competition. It’s actually harder to snag an interview from an online posting than to get into Harvard. But don’t let that intimidate you. Instead, open your laptop, roll up your proverbial sleeves, and let’s get to work!


Employers generally prefer candidates with skills that show leadership ability, problem-solving ability, and perseverance through challenges. So in the resume, you should demonstrate that you’re a dynamic candidate.

Refine the skills on your resume so that you incorporate these resume “musts:”

1. Leadership Ability

Even an entry-level employee can show leadership. Point out how your skills helped your department ascend to a new level. Capture leadership attributes with compelling statements.

Example:

“Led change that drove efficiency and an ability to cut 800 error-free payroll checks.”

2. Problem-Solving Ability

Most employees are hired to solve problems. Showcase that ability on your resume.

Example:

“Led staff in campaign to outrival top competitor’s market share during a down cycle.”

3. Perseverance

Have you been promoted several times? Or have you maintained margins in a down cycle? Both achievements demonstrate persistence. You look like someone who can navigate roadblocks.

4. Technical Skills

Consider including a Key Skills or Technology Skills section in which you list computer and software skills.

Example:

“Expert-level knowledge in Java.”

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5. Quantified Results

Nothing is quite as attractive as objective results. Did you increase sales by 25 percent? Win three new clients? Surpass the internal goal by 15 percent?

Use hard-hitting numbers to express your point. State the result first, and then provide a sentence or phrase describing the critical skills you applied to achieve the milestone.

Example:

“Boosted sales by 200 percent by developing new online platform that made it easier for customers to compare and contrast sizes, textures, and fit.”

6. People Skills

Employers prefer congenial staff members to prima donnas or mavericks. Relate your strongest soft skills.

Example:

“Organized, hard-working staffer who listens well and communicates effectively.”

7. Passion in the Field

Recruiters and hiring managers can intuit whether candidates care about their career performance by the dynamism behind the descriptions of their skills on their resumes. Are your efforts “transformational” or merely “useful?” Were your results “game-changing” or boringly “appropriate?”

The tenor of your words reveals whether you’re passionate or passive. (But don’t overdo it. See the “Hyperbole” section below.)

8. Being the Entrepreneur within the Corporation

Whether you took the initiative to create a new synergy or worked independently to land an opportunity, share how you furthered organizational goals through your self-directed efforts.

9. Your Adaptability

Have you switched career paths? Weathered a corporate takeover?

Make it clear that your resilience helped get you and your organization through the turbulence.

10. Confirming Your Expertise

Every job posting states experience requirements. Ideally, you want to meet these requirements or best them. But don’t exaggerate.


While proving that you possess the credentials described in the job posting, you can still stand out if you are able to offer additional special skills to showcase your personality.

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Consider adding any of these special accomplishments, if true:

11. Referencing Award-Winning Talents

If you played center on your college basketball team that made it into the Top 10 finals, then working collaboratively and cooperatively are among your natural callings. Be sure to say so.

12. Unveiling Your Work Persona

If you were repeatedly singled out for your stellar performance in work settings, becoming employee-of-the-month, top revenue generator, and so on — it’s worth mentioning.

13. Capitalizing on Commonalities

From Googling the hiring manager, you discover that she was formerly a Peace Corps volunteer in Belize. Listing your Spanish immersion course in Central America may draw her attention to the other outstanding skills on your resume.

14. Highlighting Creative Tactics

If, for example, in your HR role, you piloted an employee incentive program that became an industry model, include it. Such innovative thinking will command an employer’s attention.

15. Specifying All Accolades

Listing any honors received instills confidence that you will bring that level of perfectionism forward in a corporate environment.

16. Transferable Skills

You spend your spare time conducting your community orchestra. Highlight this after-hours pursuit to show that you have the critical skills needed to keep a team on task.


Take note: Hyperbole can hurt you. So, show your credibility.

Although it may be tempting to use embellishments to boost your experience, improve your job title, or enhance your education, resist. These days, a five-minute search will reveal the truth. And taking self-inflation too far could easily come back to destroy your career.

Hiring managers have their antenna up for resume hyperbole. A survey shows that 53 percent are suspicious that candidates are often dishonest.

Follow these guiding principles when writing your own resume:

17. Accurately Describing Your Degree

Make sure to differentiate between certificates attained and degrees earned, along with the name of the institution awarding them.

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18. Stating Job Duration with Honest Dates

Honesty is the only policy when reporting the length of a particular job. If you’ve been out of work for an extended period of time, state the reason you have gaps.

Whether you traveled, had to cope with a family emergency, or went back to school to change your professional track, communicate the positive outcome that came from the hiatus.

19. Claiming Only the Skills You Truly Possess

Unless you’re proficient in a software program or are fluent in a second language, leave any mention of them off.

Conversely, if you feel like you must include them, then accurately qualify your level of competence.

20. Being Honest About Your Role in a Project

You may think you were the lead person because you did most of the work, but chances are your supervisor thinks otherwise.

Besides the 20 critical skills to include on your resume, here’re some important notes for you.

Bonus Tips for Writing a Resume

You Only Have 6 to 7 Seconds to Impress the Employer

Hiring managers and artificial intelligence “bots” may spend only 6 to 7 seconds perusing your resume, which means you need it to teem with essential skills, quantifiable achievements, and action words.

If, in fact, you believe that a “bot” will be analyzing your resume before it even lands on a hiring manager’s desk, be sure to include some of the actual key words from the posting in your document. There’s no reason why you can’t customize your resume to each job posting.

Another tip: Be sure to show your resume to a few individuals who work in your field, so that you can fine-tune the information as needed.

Starting at the Top

The Objective at the top of your resume is optional if you’re seeking the same job you already have, just at different company. However, if you’re switching fields, it’s critical to include an Objective, which is a one-sentence summary of the job you want.

For example:

Objective: To become web editor at a thriving news website.

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If you’ve been in your field for ten years or more, you will probably want to include an Executive Summary. This is a one-sentence takeaway about who you are, including the critical skills you amassed throughout your career.

For example:

Executive Summary: Award-winning creative director with over ten years experience managing teams on three continents.

Depending on your field, you may also want to add some skills as bullet points in the Executive Summary section.

And what about your Education? If you graduated from college within the past ten years, include your Education just below the Objective section (and forgo the Executive Summary). If it’s been over ten years since you graduated, then include your Education at the very end of your resume. Only cite your grade point average (G.P.A.) if it was exceptional—3.7 G.P.A. or higher, or if you won scholastic awards.

Ideally, the critical skills you amassed during college, at your previous job, and throughout your career will add up to a riveting portrait of a professional who’s ideally suited for your dream position: You.

Tailor, Tweak, and Fine-Tune

If you’re targeting different kinds of organizations, you’ll need customized resumes for each outreach.

Don’t be afraid to parrot some of the words on the list of requirements back to the company. Many times, organizations will actually use the key words mentioned in the job posting when screening resumes.

Approach Your Resume as a Skills-Based Story

Like any good storyteller, lay out the framework at the beginning. Include the skills you’ve mastered and state how you can add value—wording your sentences in a way that reflects the specific job you’re seeking.

Are you vying for a sales position? Quantify your results: “Responsible for 50 percent of all sales that resulted in $750,000 in annual revenue.” Use your critical skills, peppered throughout your resume, to tell the exciting story of your distinguished professional career!

Researching the organization that you’re targeting will help you make your examples specific. Does the company cater to a particular audience or clientele? Be sure to note any experiences you’ve had with similar audiences.

Putting It All Together

A resume is not a laundry list. It tells a cohesive story. Your story should highlight your qualifications and critical skills in a way that makes a logical, well-constructed case for your compatibility with the organization and its advertised position.

Packaging your story into the concisely prescribed format of a resume means that it will read as a synopsis — one that will hopefully land you the job.

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Featured photo credit: Bram Naus via unsplash.com

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