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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 October 18, 2018

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

When it comes to starting your own business and pursuing your dream of becoming an entrepreneur, it can be advantageous to go all in and embrace the flexibility of finally quitting your day job.

Keep in mind, though, that it takes a special kind of person to take the business world by storm: a person who has cultivated the key characteristics of entrepreneurial success.

People with these characteristics are likely to succeed, whereas people without them have difficulty moving forward with even the most brilliant business ideas.

These characteristics of an entrepreneur are so important that I’ve decided to cover all 10 of them in detail so that you can start your business with your best foot forward.

1. Successful Entrepreneurs Practice Discipline

Plenty of business experts claim that you can’t get anywhere as an entrepreneur without vision or creativity, but that’s simply not the truth. Instead, the one quality that no entrepreneur can be successful without is discipline.

To build an idea into a business, you have to have the discipline to spend time slogging through the least fun parts of running a business (like the bookkeeping), rather than taking that time to do something fun.

Andrew Carnegie, one of the most financially successful Americans of all time, grew up working dull and difficult jobs in factories. Despite going to bed hungry some nights, he continued doing his best work. He was eventually hired by a railroad company and continued to move up the ladder until starting his own successful businesses. Carnegie is a fine example of an entrepreneur dedicated to discipline and hard work. He truly earned his dreams of prosperity and success.

When you’re the boss, there’s no one to keep you at work except yourself — and there’s no short-term consequences for skipping out early.

Sure, if an entrepreneur plays hooky enough he knows that the business just won’t happen, but it’s very hard to convince someone that ‘just this once’ won’t hurt (and to keep ‘just this once’ from becoming a daily occurrence).

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2. Successful Entrepreneurs Keep Calm

Things go wrong when you run your own business.

Most entrepreneurs go through crises with their businesses — and more than a few wind up with outright failures on their hands. But when you’re responsible for a business, you have to be able to keep calm in any situation. Any other reaction — whether you lose your temper or get flustered — compounds the problem.

Instead, a good entrepreneur must have the ability to keep his cool in an emergency or crisis. It may not make the problem easier to solve, but it certainly won’t make it harder.

Honestly, losing your calm is a quick path to becoming the kind of person who gives up in the face of adversity. Instead giving in to frustration, remember classic entrepreneur Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin kept his calm as he experimented and tweaked his inventions again and again in pursuit of success. He didn’t give up during his many failures – he chose to innovate. You can choose innovation, too.

If an entrepreneur can handle failure without frustration or anger, s/he can move past it to find success.

3. Successful Entrepreneurs Pay Attention to Details

Restricting your attention to the big picture can be even more problematic than ‘sweating the small stuff.’

As an entrepreneur, unless venture capital has magically dropped out of the sky, a small expense can be a killer. It’s attention to detail that can make a small business successful when it has competition and it’s attention to detail that can keep costs down.

Attention to detail can be difficult to maintain — going over ledgers can be tedious even when you aren’t trying to pay close attention — but keeping your eye on a long-term vision is just asking for a problem to sneak in under a radar.

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After a business grows, an entrepreneur might be able to hire someone to worry about the details. In the beginning, though, only one person can take responsibility for the details.

Skeptical about the importance of details? Look no further than Howard Schultz, who grew a small coffee shop called Starbucks into one of the most globally successful coffee businesses in the world through his extreme attention to detail.

He is famous for taking all aspects of growing a business into account, paying attention not only to financially smart business decisions, but also focusing on socially responsible business decisions. Details can take you far.

4. Successful Entrepreneurs Embrace Risks

No entrepreneur has a sure thing, no matter how much money s/he stands to earn on a given product. Even if a product tests well, the market can change, the warehouse can burn down and a whole slew of other misfortune can befall a small business.

It’s absolutely risky to run a business of your own and while you can get some insurance, it’s not like most investment options. Even worse, if something does go wrong, it’s the entrepreneur’s responsibility — no matter the actual cause. In order to deal with all of that without developing an ulcer, you have to have a good tolerance for risk.

You don’t need to channel your inner frat boy and take on absolutely stupid risks, but you need to know just how much you can afford to risk — and get a good idea of how likely you are to lose it. If the numbers make you uncomfortable, the risk is too great.

Embracing risks is essential for growth and additional success, as well. Walt Disney, for example, could have stayed comfortable with his advances in the film and animation industries, but decided to expand his brand with a new dream: a theme park that soared above the competition. Without taking this risk, the incredibly successful Disney theme park empire would never have come about.

An entrepreneur has to be willing to accept pretty big risks, with some level of comfort.

5. Successful Entrepreneurs are Balanced

You can take any characteristic too far. There’s a point at which attention to detail can become obsession or calm can become unemotional response.

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As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to balance your characteristics, getting the most of them without going over the edge. But balance for an entrepreneur goes far beyond keeping your characteristics in check, though.

Just as an entrepreneur doesn’t have a boss to keep them at work when necessary, they don’t have one to send them home when they’re done. If you are working for yourself, you have to decide how to balance your work and home life — and if you have a day job to add into the equation, balance just gets more complicated.

Oprah Winfrey, one of the most successful and influential entrepreneurs out there, understands the importance of balance. Winfrey has a lot going on; she runs her own media kingdom, acts, produces films, publishes print, and more. In an interview with Fast Company,[1] she talks about her efforts to balance priorities and self care, saying that she must ask herself what is truly important in each limited day.

You may or may not have as much on your plate as Oprah, but learning how to balance whatever you have going on in life will certainly help you farther along down the road as you learn to be a great entrepreneur.

6. Successful Entrepreneurs are Passionate and Motivated

In order to develop any of the above characteristics, you must have a foundation of passion. Staying disciplined day after day during the building of your business takes unrivaled motivation.

Before you start any business, ask yourself if you can sustain true excitement about your idea during even the darkest days ahead of you. If the answer is yes, then good for you! Nurture your natural motivation by taking these action steps throughout your business journey:

  • Commit to making short and long-term goals. Check in with them often to stay on task.
  • Have a plan in place for the inevitable days when you feel discouraged. Make a list of things that will help keep you motivated and focused.
  • Share your ideas with trusted individuals who are just as excited as you are. They will help keep your enthusiasm rolling even when you are feeling down.

By being prepared for apathetic days and holding fast to your authentic passion, you can actually enjoy your journey to success.

7. Successful Entrepreneurs Adapt

Remember this one word: flexibility. Seasoned entrepreneurs know that change is not only a part of life, but also a part of the business world. Expect change and choose to adapt.

As a new entrepreneur, it will be tempting to cling to your original business plan with no exceptions, even if you notice it isn’t working. Good entrepreneurs know that it’s okay to make smart, informed changes in order to ensure efficiency.

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8. Successful Entrepreneurs are Marketing and Sales Experts

No matter what kind of business you are starting, a knowledge of marketing and sales will save you many headaches. A passion for creating a beautiful handmade lifestyle product is not enough to run a successful lifestyle brand; it is critical that you understand key business principles in addition to your natural skills or great product line.

Not sure how to start? Taking business courses is a great idea, but you can also easily brush up on sales and marketing through free online resources. Check out these 10 Sales Skills Everyone Should Master To Be Successful to begin now.

9. Successful Entrepreneurs Have Strong Money Management

Along with sales and marketing skills, money management is a very useful tool in the box of the entrepreneur. Understanding how to best manage your money can be the difference between early success and early failure in the business world.

If money management isn’t your strongest skill, prepare to hire a financial expert to help you with any tricky business that comes up. Financial guidance and knowledge is never a bad idea.

10. Successful Entrepreneurs Ask Questions and Continually Improve

Pride is a natural human quality, but it’s important to humbly conduct some constructive criticism every now and again on both yourself as a leader and your new business as a whole.

Assess how things are going and be willing to make positive changes if necessary. Here’re 15 ways to cultivate lifelong learning.

If you are always improving, then how can you ultimately fail?

The Bottom Line

Let me remind you of one important fact: the qualities of an entrepreneur listed here are not exclusively available to some people and elusive to others.

Although some people may have natural strengths and weaknesses, these qualities can be learned by anyone interested in taking up the entrepreneurial challenge. It might not be easy to change old habits, but it is absolutely possible to cultivate these characteristics in yourself.

Whether you’re a business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, with hard work, you can train yourself to develop the qualities that truly determine the entrepreneurial spirit and future success.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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