In sales organisations, top talent that sticks with an organisation and positively impacts the bottomline can be hard to come by. Throughout 2020, sales businesses will need to improve their offering to keep their best people and attract new talent, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

And while It is crucial to assess an individual’s personality, the skills they possess are equally important. Here are the eight key skills in sales to look out for during an interview process.

1. Negotiating with clients

Negotiation in sales is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a key skill that can take years to hone. Not only should a salesperson be able to negotiate internally, but it is crucial to have the ability to negotiate with clients successfully. Repeat business in sales is key. Therefore, negotiating with clients is a necessity that should be handled with care and consideration. Professionals that have an open and friendly personality, teamed with the ability to make a sale, develop professional relationships, and be tough when they need to be, are key in a market of uncertainty and high competition.

2. Data & analytics

The world is moving to become fully digitised. This means that businesses need to change their approach to data and what they do with the information they are capturing from their clients and staff members. Trends and data analysis is becoming more and more commonplace in sales environments. Being prepared and providing your prospects with factual information is the ultimate way to win them over and will positively affect the bottomline.          

3. Pipeline planning

Planning is crucial for any sales team to be successful. Professionals with skills in developing strategies to boost sales and achieve targets have always been highly sought-after in the sales sector. Planning can provide the time needed to be able to run a process with minimal bumps in the road. People that are well-versed in managing these processes can give your business the strategy it needs to be the best it can be.

4. Competitor analysis

Sales is a notoriously competitive market. So, continuous competitor analysis to see where you are in the market is important for benchmarking and to assess what the sales market looks like for your business and products. Understanding not only the sales market in general, but being able to forecast where the market is heading, is crucial for sales professionals who are on the ground speaking to clients. Proactive sales professionals will be able to identify opportunities and risks in a business strategy.

5. Organisational skills

Some sales professionals don't feel that organisation is a key aspect of their role. However, it is important to be prepared, organised, and know that you can plan. Being organised is paramount to making sure workloads are managed effectively and that team are collaborating effectively to reach the ultimate commercial objectives of an operation. Look for organisation as a trait when hiring a salesperson and you can be sure that your teams are working productively, and not over-working unnecessarily.

6. Key market knowledge

Whether it be experience in the sales sector, or a strong willingness to learn about the market, having specialist market knowledge specific to your role, product, and the sector will aid the sales process. This can grant legitimacy and authenticity to your team when they speak to clients. Using knowledge to provide insight and make a sale is a great way to build rapport with clients and build a positive brand reputation. The trick to building a successful sales team is often to hire professionals with different specialist market knowledge that overlaps in key areas. 

7. Embracing technology

While sales is still a very human-led sector, the continued introduction of new technologies can help boost productivity. Many professionals across all sectors are averse to change, but utilising new technology and mastering the tools available can play to an individual's advantage, and is a desired skill when businesses are recruiting for top talent. The key here is to understand how technology can augment the principles of selling without replacing the human aspect.           

8. Internal/external influencing

Influencing both your team members and your clients is important for a sales professional — and the balance between the two is a daily challenge. Similarly to negotiating, your team members should be able to steer a sale in the direction they want, and influence others in terms of upselling or following the desired strategy. Persuasion in sales is fundamental, and a sales professional who knows how to do this without coming off as hard selling is highly valuable to any sales team.