Soft Skills Every Salesperson Needs to Master


Every salesperson needs a set of skills to help them entice potential buyers and close a deal. Some of these will be hard skills, meaning abilities you’ve learned through repetition, education and practice. Others will be soft skills — interpersonal skills and traits that influence how you interact with others. If hard skills represent the things you know, then soft skills represent how you use them.

10 Critical Soft Skills Needed for Sales

A successful salesperson needs a wide spread of skills to be effective. While we may initially think of work in terms of hard skills, soft skills are also incredibly important. Below, we’ve collected 10 of the most critical soft sales skills for you to develop.

1. Communication

Proper communication is key to negotiating any deal or transaction. Since salespeople spend so much of their day communicating, they need to know how to do so effectively and efficiently.

Communication can take many forms, including in-person meetings, phone calls, virtual meetings, texts and emails. An effective salesperson must understand how to communicate effectively and clearly through many different mediums.

While communication with a potential client is paramount, a salesperson must also learn to communicate well with colleagues and coworkers. The way a salesperson speaks to a potential client should be different from how they speak to their boss or colleague. Understanding these tonal shifts and communicating effectively with diverse audiences is an important soft skill for a salesperson.

2. Empathy

Empathy, the ability to share someone else’s thoughts and emotions, is incredibly important for a salesperson. You must put yourself in the mindset of a potential customer to understand where they are in the buying process and what information they may be looking for.

Understanding what a customer is feeling or thinking will let you guide the conversation productively. Empathy is fundamental to understanding potential pain points and the underlying motivations that facilitate a conversion.While empathy can help facilitate a sale or conversion, it also allows a salesperson to build and create meaningful, trusting relationships with future prospects. A customer who remembers the sales process as a positive emotional experience is more likely to convert or do business with you again in the future.

3. Adaptability

Adaptability is another important soft skill. No two clients or experiences are the same and while a deal may be going well, it can change in just a few moments. An adept salesperson must know how to adapt to a new scenario on the fly.

Sometimes, these changes can require you to operate outside typical working hours. If a potential client cancels an important meeting or needs to change the meeting format, you should be able to quickly adapt to their request and make the necessary changes for their convenience.

4. Active Listening

Salespeople do a lot of talking, making their pitches and explaining details to potential customers. However, customers are much more likely to convert if they feel heard.

Active listening is one of the most important soft sales skills for you to master. Evaluate the way you listen from your customer’s perspective. Does your listening style communicate your attentiveness to what they’re saying?

If you’re listening passively — absorbing their information without a response — your customer may wonder if you truly value their opinions or needs. Instead, practice active listening by asking your clients questions and using body language to communicate your attention. Active listeners provide feedback like nodding or asking for clarification where appropriate, engaging with the conversation to better understand their customers.

5. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence plays an important role in determining how a lead feels and understanding what information they need to feel more confident in a purchase. An emotionally intelligent person can relate to a customer and infer their feelings, helping create a meaningful relationship and close a sale.

Emotional intelligence will let you:

  • Correctly perceive emotions.
  • Understand a client’s feelings.
  • Manage emotions in yourself and others.
  • Use emotions to create a positive experience for your customers.

Building off a customer’s positive feelings can create a strong relationship and improve the likelihood of repeat business.

6. Time Management

Working smarter is always more productive than working harder. Time management allows you to work more efficiently, minimizing redundancies and increasing potential sales. While it’s always necessary to put effort into your work, great time management skills will let you can get more work done in less time.

Time management also means managing your energy. It’s vital to ensure you’re rested and have enough focus to put towards meetings, client calls and other important projects for the day. While every week is different and presents unique challenges, time management can help you make the most out of your working hours.

7. Resilience

No matter how effective and efficient they are, no salesperson can close every deal. There may be times when you experience back-to-back rejections or don’t close a deal for several days. While this may be discouraging, it’s vital to remain resilient so you can close the next deal.

Resilience helps a salesperson process their discouragement and remain positive when they’re going through a rough patch. It’s important to remember that a bad day or even a bad few weeks is only a temporary setback.

8. Decisiveness

As you listen to your client’s feelings and concerns, you must be able to act fast to address them. If your client tells you about a specific problem or issue, you need to act quickly and confidently to present an adequate solution.

Decisiveness can be the difference between a failed deal and a successful conversion. You can build your decisiveness in multiple ways. Some salespeople develop this skill from firsthand experience throughout their careers. Others work to improve their decisiveness skills by running through potential situations and creating contingency plans for each one.

9. Integrity

Integrity is an essential aspect of building a relationship with potential customers. A salesperson’s integrity can make or break a possible deal.

Transparency and honesty help build your customer’s trust and lead to a successful relationship. For example, offering an honest assessment when you believe a product or service might not be a good fit can show that you prioritize their needs over making a sale. A customer who trusts your opinion will be more likely to make a future purchase or even recommend you to their friends and family.

10. Growth and Development

Even if you already possess all these skills, you must be ready and willing to learn, grow and develop. As technology and customer needs continue to change, you should be ready to learn new skills while developing your existing ones further.

Hone Your Sales Skills With Global Performance Group

Global Performance Group is a leading behavioral transformational company, home to experts in procurement strategies, innovative sales methodologies and team development practices. We offer innovative programs, including leadership & team developmentsales programs and strategic procurement programs.

Contact us online to learn more about our corporate training programs.

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