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How To Hone Your Key Sales Skills

According to John Asher, CEO of the sales training firm Asher Strategies, there are 10 key sales skills, without which you will never reach your potential as a sales professional. I think there's a lot of wisdom in what he has to say, so I've created a post to help you assess your own skill level, for each of these key skill. I've also provide a link to a blog post that can help you develop any key skill which needs improvement.

I truly believe that this could be the most useful quiz I've ever posted here.

Give it a try, and tell me what you think!

CLICK for the first key sales skill »

  • Key Skill #1: Researching prospects prior to first contact.
  • Why This Skill is Important: If you know about the prospect, you're can craft your approach so that it resonates with that prospect's individual needs and concerns.
  • When You Lack This Skill: Every cold cold call (and indeed every first contact) becomes an uphill battle to create rapport and credibility.
  • How to Develop This Skill: Find out what research tools are available, both in your company and on the Web. Learn to use them. Then use them.


If you scored yourself "good" or "fair" click to: Research a Prospect...In Ten Minutes.

CLICK for the next key sales skill »

  • Key Skill #2. Asking questions and listening more than you talk.
  • Why This Skill Is Important: Selling is about the customer's needs, not about what you have to sell. If you can't find out those needs, you've got nothing to sell.
  • When You Lack This Skill: You're just a carnival barker, trying to pitch a product, rather than somebody who's adding value at all level of the relationship.
  • How to Develop This Skill: Get curious! Finding out about people and companies is interesting. And people like it when you show real interest in them and their work.


If you scored yourself "good" or "fair" click to: Worlds Best Sales Questions.

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  • Key Skill #3. Focusing on top prospects and contacting them often.
  • Why This Skill Is Important: It takes an average of 12 contacts to BEGIN to develop a major account. Your time is precious, so you'd best spend it wisely.
  • When You Lack This Skill: You end up calling on marginal prospects that either can't buy, won't buy, or won't buy enough. You lose; they lose.
  • How To Develop This Skill: Look on lead qualification as a process of elimination. Look for reasons to STOP calling on prospects that won't pan out.


If you scored yourself "good" or "fair" click to: The Ultimate Prospect Qualification Tool
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  • Key Skill #4. Cultivating internal "coaches" to understand the customer.
  • Why This Skill Is Important: Building a series of contact and helpers allows you to navigate the organizational politics and raise the budget priority of your offering.
  • When You Lack This Skill: A fair number of your opportunities will be speedbumped and derailed, and you won't really be clear why it happened.
  • How To Develop This Skill: Discover how working with you will help them advance the careers of your customer contacts. Then emphasize that aspect of your relationship.


If you scored yourself "good" or "fair" click to: Get Your Customers to Sell For You.

CLICK for the next key sales skill »

  • Key Skill #5. Solving problems as a business consultant.
  • Why This Skill Is Important: Customers don't want or need people to tell them about products and show them price lists. They want you to add value.
  • When You Lack This Skill: You're just peddling, not selling. You'll be constantly competing on price and you'll usually lose if your's isn't the lowest.
  • How To Develop This Skill: Spend time learning about how businesses work. Learn to read an SEC filing. Take some basic business courses.


If you scored yourself "good" or "fair" click to: How to Beat a Low-Priced Competitor
CLICK for the next key sales skill »

  • Key Skill #6. Creating long-term relationships with customers.
  • Why This Skill Is Important: It's your long-term relationships that bring the highest level of success in good times, and which protect you in bad times.
  • When You Lack This Skill: You'll be constantly building up new business from scratch -- a process that's expensive, time-consuming and chancy.
  • How To Develop This Skill: Make your customers into a priority. Put their interests ahead of your own, consistent with doing right by your own firm.


If you scored yourself "good" or "fair" click to: Sales Relationships in Tough Times.
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  • Key Skill #7. Communicating appropriate business messages.
  • Why This Skill Is Important: By positioning your firm, business case and value proposition, you create a case for buying your offering.
  • When You Lack This Skill: Customers won't really understand why they should buy from you, and why they should buy now.
  • How To Develop This Skill: Make sure your messages are concise, emotional, and specific -- and address real customer needs.


If you scored yourself "good" or "fair" click to: To Sell More, Tell the Customer's Story
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  • Key Skill #8. Recognizing when the prospect is ready to buy.
  • Why This Skill Is Important: While selling is a process, if you don't close business, there's not much point to it, eh?
  • When You Lack This Skill: You'll avoid closing because you're afraid that the customer will say No.
  • How To Develop This Skill: Constantly check during the selling process that the sale is going smoothly.


If you scored yourself "good" or "fair" click to: Why Trick Closes Don't Work.

CLICK for the next key sales skill »

  • Key Skill #9. Knowing how to close the sale when the time is right.
  • Why This Skill Is Important: Even if you know WHEN to close (see Skill #8), you still need to say the right thing that will lead to that all-important "YES."
  • When You Lack This Skill: There's a good chance you'll flub or clutch at the last minute, leaving you without the sale.
  • How To Develop This Skill: Practice your closing techniques with colleagues or your manager.


If you scored yourself "good" or "fair" click to: The ABCs of Closing.

CLICK for the last key sales skill »

  • Key Skill #10. Having a process to get referrals and following up on them.
  • Why This Skill Is Important: When a customer refers a prospect to you, you've already won some of the new prospect's trust.
  • When You Lack This Skill: Because you'll be dependent upon traditional lead generation, yYou'll end up working harder to get fewer sales.
  • How to Develop This Skill: Make sure that you're providing the best possible service. After you've proven yourself, ask the customer to call some colleagues.


If you scored yourself "good" or "fair" click to: How to Earn Referrals.