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9 Sales Skills You Absolutely Must Have Even If You’re Not in Sales

No matter what your role, selling is part of your job.

Of course to many people the word “selling” implies manipulating, pressuring, cajoling… all those high pressure salesman stereotypes.

But if you think of “selling” as explaining the logic and benefits of a decision, then everyone does needs sales skills: to convince others an idea makes sense, to show bosses or investors how a project or business will generate a return, to help employees understand the benefits of a new process, etc.

In essence, sales skills are communication skills, and communication skills are critical in any business or career.

So I asked Inc.com’s resident sales guru, Geoffrey James, author of Business Without the Bullsh*t, for the basic selling skills everyone needs in order to be more successful.

Here’s Geoffrey’s list:

1. Researching customers.

Whether you’re selling to an external customer or an internal one (like your boss), the more you know about the buyer, the easier it is to influence their decisions.

2. Creating rapport.

The first decision every customer makes is: “Do I want to do business with this person?” To create a quick connection, be curious, be personable, and care about other people.

3. Asking questions.

If you can’t satisfy a customer’s real needs, you can’t make a sale. And if you don’t ask the right questions, you’ll never know what your customers need and won’t be able to help.

4. Listening actively.

When customers are talking, it’s not enough to keep your mouth closed. You must also keep your mind open to discover ways to truly be of service.

5. Getting commitments.

Every contact with a potential customer should result in a commitment from the customer—an agreement to do something that will move the process forward.

6. Presenting solutions.

Once you’ve learned how you can help, you must be able tell the customer’s story with you and your product playing a key role in helping the customer succeed.

7. Closing the “sale.”

At some point, you’ve got to ask for a decision. The “close” will emerge as a natural part of the conversation if you’ve exercised the previous skills.

8. Building relationships.

Your goal should always be to build a life-long relationship rather than to merely make a short-term sale.

9. Feeling grateful.

People who approach selling (and life) with a sense of gratitude squeeze more joy out of success and experience less disappointment when they fail.

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