Picking out essential skills and qualifications is something recruiters do right away when they receive resumes and cover letters. Most industries have specific technical skills they are looking for that are clearly defined, such as having project management experience or being able to write copy effectively.
In sales, hard skills like having a degree or specific sales training are beneficial, but there are more essential skills that recruiters should watch out for. Focusing primarily on soft skills in sales will help you hire the best salespeople for your team.
Soft skills are the less tangible skills that may not even be listed on a resume that recruiters need to have the ability to determine. Instead, they are the social skills and personality traits needed to succeed in the workplace.
It’s important to note that soft skills are essential to success in the fast-paced, customer-focused sales industry. Knowing which skills to prioritize can be difficult as a recruiter, so we have put together a list of essential soft skills in sales to watch out for among your applicants.
During interviews, a lot of the information you use to judge candidates comes from when they are answering questions and discussing their skills and qualifications. However, in sales interviews, you can get equally valuable information from the moments when they aren’t speaking. That’s because an essential soft skill in salespeople is actively listening and engaging with their prospects.
Listening is vital in sales for many reasons, but primarily because it equips the salesperson to tailor their efforts to the specific needs of their prospects. If you listen to potential clients and find out their needs, you will better show how your services or products can help meet their needs.
Custom outreach after active listening is an effective way to generate more prospects. Also, most clients generally appreciate it when salespeople can engage with them and actively put their best interests first.
As mentioned, hard skills can be learned through experience and training. On the other hand, soft skills can be more challenging to learn as a working professional, as they take a considerable amount of effort and time.
Empathy is one such trait – vitally important to a successful sale but is very difficult to learn on the job. That’s not to say it can’t be taught, but empathy training is not often part of the onboarding process.
Empathy and care for the client show that the salesperson cares about the client’s needs, goals, and experience. These skills allow the salesperson and client to build a long-term relationship and trust, encouraging the client to continue working with your company.
Helping others and genuinely caring about them is a quality that all great salespeople should have, which comes from a place of real empathy. Here are some great interview questions and tips to help you gauge candidate empathy during the interview process.
While being organized is an essential skill in almost every job, it is essential for sales professionals. Every day, salespeople have to juggle hectic meeting schedules, prospecting and cold outreach, and follow-ups with recurring clients and prospects, among other responsibilities. Without proper organizational and time management skills, the job can become much more difficult and stressful, and less will get accomplished overall.
Thankfully, judging organizational skills in an interview is something that most recruiters are already well-versed in. Many questions relate to organizational skills, and this quality can also be judged by external factors, such as; Did the candidate show up to the interview on time? Did they bring a resume or additional information with them? Do they seem prepared to answer your questions?
At its core, sales are about problem-solving: Finding issues and persuading prospects that your product or service can solve them. If salespeople take the approach of helping a client solve a problem with their solutions, they are more likely to finalize a sale.
Being a problem solver also applies to other areas of a salesperson’s day-to-day work – if a client is unhappy or needs change, the salespeople should be able to quickly pivot and use their problem-solving skills to keep the client happy.
To best judge problem-solving skills during recruitment, you can pose an issue to prospective hires and ask them to determine a solution. Again, it doesn’t need to be complicated or even sales-related, but you need to know that your potential recruit can think under pressure and solve problems.
Recruitment practices vary from industry to industry. In some, hard learning and technical skills may be the most vital parts of finding a successful candidate. But, regarding the fast-paced, challenging practice that is sales; soft skills are also extremely important in determining potential success.
While people with technical know-how can try to make sales, only those who take the time to learn these soft skills will find consistent success. Focusing on candidates that are good listeners, empathetic, organized, problem solvers, and quick learners will help increase the quality of hires you bring to your sales team.
Some candidates will have these traits already but don’t ignore candidates that might be lacking in one or two areas if they show potential. Remember that these soft skills, like any other skills, can be taught and learned.
Ensure that all your candidates are open to learning and developing new skills. If you are willing to invest the time it takes to teach these skills, you will ensure that your new recruits will find long-term success at your company.
Abin Dahal is the Sales Operations Manager at Funnel Clarity. Funnel Clarity is a sales performance training and consulting company, dedicated to producing real results in sales performance. Funnel Clarity is using the science of sales to increase revenue and profits for our clients and to change buyer culture to view salespeople as trustworthy, credible, and capable. They are dedicated to sales and the buyer journey and provide resources and training opportunities to those in every level of the sales industry.