5 Skills Your Next Salesperson Must Have

People often ask, “What are the things you look for when hiring the best salespeople?”

That answer has changed over the years. Relying on what made people successful a decade ago won’t cut it today. Things have changed.

Technology, availability of information and our ability to communicate ideas in an instant has accelerated the rate of change in the workplace. As a result, skills that used to be advantageous are becoming all but imperative. To be successful in this fast-paced business environment curiosity, creativity, teamwork, and flexibility now stand out as hallmarks of effective salespeople.

  1. Curiosity: Salespeople must be inquisitive asking ‘why’ and exploring the origin of projects, objectives and resources so they can get to buying motives quickly. Failure to do so can result in lost time, missed deadlines and tasks. Today’s salespeople have to use curiosity to help them develop empathy, putting themselves in the buyer’s shoes, so they can truly understand the buyers position and the impact of the sale they are trying to make.
  2. Creativity: Buyers have become very well informed. The information at their disposal is vast, allowing them to make decisions at a very rapid pace. If a salesperson is going to get their attention, they have to be creative. It seems that much of what we need to know has been reduced to a tweet, a snapchat, or a meme that we scroll through rapidly. Buyers have no patience for lengthy emails or requests for hours of their time. Creativity can open many doors and goes a long way in advancing or closing the sale.
  3. Teamwork:  The share economy has created groups and teams for everything. People buy and sell in groups. They share knowledge, insights, roles, and data. These challenges put salespeople in a situation where in order to be successful one has to learn to work both independently to uphold individual responsibility but also must get results through or with others. The Lone Wolf is no more.
  4. Flexibility:  Salespeople must be willing to pivot quickly. Tasks and projects can end and be spun up in an instant. If a salesperson is to succeed they must be mobile and willing to flex quickly. Failure to do so can make them look unproductive or leave them feeling frustrated in their role. Win fast, lose fast.

Bringing all of these skills together creates a salesperson that can understand why a target is set, can use people and resources to hit the target, and then can review the best parts of the work to make improvements and adjustments so the work continues to get better. Hire for these skills and the effectiveness and efficiency of your sales team will go up. You will see better results.

Speaking of getting better- Skill number 5 is Continuous Improvement. Many salespeople will have read this article because of the title. They will have clicked on the article wanting to know if they possessed the skills of the best salespeople, wanting to compare themselves to what was written, to see whether they measured up. Those salespeople are continuously striving to improve themselves by staying informed, honing their craft, and learning how to be more effective and efficient. You want those people on your team.


Do you have other skills you hire for? Drop me a note or comment with the critical skills you think salespeople must have. I’d love to hear about it.

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Ideas, comments, and questions are always welcomed! Happy Selling!

One thought on “5 Skills Your Next Salesperson Must Have

  1. Great insight from a true sales professional! Thank you Mark. Of course, as a process improvement fanatic, I gravitate to #5, but all skills you listed are important. As we’ve discussed in the past, once the order has been received the hand-off’s are essential to delivering on the promise to the customer.

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