Five Sales Skills Every Salesperson Should Have

19 Sep 23

Today’s modern sellers must be proficient in both face-to-face and virtual selling. So, what sales skills are the most important? Here is our top 5.

Today's sellers must be proficient in face-to-face and virtual selling. This means that sales success requires many skills. However, we can still identify the top skills cutting across all aspects of selling that will make closing come naturally. Let's dive into the five skills you need to succeed in this new sales environment.

#1 Storytelling

Storytelling has been a highly effective form of communication since the Stone Age, contributing to the development of humanity as we know it today. That is because people simply aren’t wired to hear hard facts, and stories make it much easier to convey information that sticks.

In fact, according to the London School of Business, people retain only 5 to 10 percent of information presented to them in the form of statistics. However, this number rises to 65 to 70 percent when that same information is shared via a story.

Using storytelling in sales is a great way to use communication to increase value by influencing customer behavior, illustrating possibilities through real customer successes, building and reinforcing relationships, and simplifying the communication of complex ideas.

However, people today are overwhelmed with information, which reduces their attention spans. To get their message to stick, successful salespeople use storytelling principles to make a personal, emotional connection.

For example, instead of talking about the benefits of a 24-hour help desk, they talk about a person who works there and share a story that makes the case for a personal rather than an automated service.

#2 Relationship Building

“People buy from people they like” isn’t just an old sales adage. In fact, there is a significant body of behavioral research to support it. The famed psychologist, Dr. Robert Cialdini, even included this as one of the principles in his seminal book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.”

Active listening in sales is a fundamental element of relationship building. It makes the buyer feel important, understood, appreciated, and respected. Active listening also helps prevent misunderstandings and increases the knowledge of what is essential.

One problem is that many people confuse passive and active listening. Research suggests that we only remember 25% to 50% of what we hear, meaning that up to 75% of what the buyer is saying can go missing. This is why it is important to differentiate between passive and active listening.

Passive listening is the physical process of receiving sound waves transmitted to the brain (i.e., hearing). Active listening means suspending thoughts to focus entirely on what the speaker is saying.

Unfortunately, many sales professionals are poor active listeners. Many feel the need to do all the talking, and let fear and anxiety creep in during moments of silence. By constantly thinking about what to say next instead of what the other person is saying, they lose an opportunity to engage in a natural conversation and source valuable information from the buyer.

Another important aspect of relationship building is having empathy for your customer’s situation. Empathy in sales means putting yourself in their shoes and truly grasping their situation from their perspective. Empathy becomes an even more critical differentiator in a business landscape where relationships are the cornerstone of successful selling.

As selling becomes more complex, with multiple stakeholders and virtual interactions, the importance of empathy grows. By practicing empathy, sales reps can become better consultative professionals capable of creatively solving customers' problems.

#3 Selling Value

Sales conversations are no longer one-sided presentations. They have evolved into dynamic exchanges where curiosity is your most powerful tool. However, effective questioning isn't just about extracting information. It is about guiding the conversation toward a deeper understanding of your customer's challenges and aspirations.

Asking well-crafted questions accomplishes several essential objectives. Firstly, it demonstrates your genuine interest in the customer's situation, fostering a sense of value and importance. Secondly, it uncovers pain points and opportunities that might have remained hidden.

Moreover, asking questions empowers you to steer the conversation toward meaningful insights. It is a way to engage your customers actively, making them feel heard and understood. This not only builds rapport but also positions you as a trusted advisor rather than a mere salesperson.

#4 Qualifying Opportunities

Effective qualification involves a multi-faceted approach. It is about asking the right questions to uncover critical insights that indicate a genuine fit between your solutions and the customer's requirements.

It begins with thoroughly understanding your customer's needs, challenges, and objectives. Qualifying opportunities also demands an eye for potential roadblocks or hurdles early in the sales process to address them proactively, increasing the likelihood of a successful close.

However, most importantly, qualification is about respecting your time and resources. In a world where distractions abound and competition is fierce, your ability to prioritize high-potential opportunities is a strategic advantage. It lets you focus your energy where it matters most, leading to better results and a more efficient sales process.

#5 Presenting

A successful salesperson must be confident in their ability to present a solution to a group and a virtual meeting environment. This involves engaging the audience and addressing their concerns when the sales rep can't see them in person and "read the room.”

Every impactful sales presentation should aim to address the concerns of decision-makers and influencers. Sales reps should start working early on developing this process by mapping the sales organization and asking the right questions.

The old perception of salespeople being solely focused on making a sale, without taking the time to understand the customer's unique needs, is gradually being replaced by a new approach. Empathy is now recognized as the key to developing strong rapport and building meaningful connections with prospects.


The modern salesperson must evolve in an era where communication transcends traditional phone calls, and relationships are the bedrock of trust. Excellent storytelling, active listening, empathetic engagement, questioning, qualifying opportunities, and presentation skills are your keys to connecting with customers on a deeper level.

While there are other essential sales skills, such as closing, incorporating these 5 skills into your arsenal will cause the rest to come naturally and position you as a trusted advisor rather than just a salesperson. 


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