Three Must-Have Soft Skills Every Sales Leader Needs
TikTok and Instagram have made it abundantly clear that many of us beat boredom by picking up a new skill—archery, sourdough bread making, gardening, screenwriting, and pottery throwing all come to mind.
But if you work in sales, you might have balanced out all the carb-loading and flower pruning with more tactical skills. The kind that can make you a sharper, faster, and more productive seller, namely, the soft skills that have become the hardest-hitting tools we can have in our belts.
This past year, I’ve interviewed dozens of high-profile revenue leaders and found three soft skills that rise to the top of the must-have list.
Authenticity is a skill. Nobody has all of the answers—in business or life. So why is it such a human reaction to pretend to know things that we don’t?
Maybe it’s imposter syndrome; perhaps it’s a “fake it ‘til you make it” mentality. Whatever it is, it’s impeding our personal growth.
“If your sales reps are afraid to admit what they don’t know to their managers, they’ll probably also have that fear with customers and prospects,” says LinkedIn’s VP of Sales Solutions, Alyssa Merwin. “Fear prevents people from asking deep, tough questions—the ones that could reveal a problem they don’t know how to address.”
It takes a certain bravery to be authentic. Like most soft skills, that level of honesty requires constant work. When we’re able to admit we don’t know everything, we learn. When we learn, we can tackle more significant problems with more innovative solutions.
Sales and marketing silos have historically been a massive problem for businesses in every industry. The rise of revenue operations has entwined those two departments, along with customer success, in some remarkable ways.
Sales leaders regularly collaborate with market leaders to continue to achieve quota.
According to HubSpot’s VP of Marketing, Meghan Keaney Anderson, “Sales and marketing have to build a strong foundation together, based on the same data, which means that the teams need to agree on what success looks like. It’s a common practice to have two separate monthly reports, one for sales and one for marketing, but that quite literally leads to two different perspectives into the customer experience and a disjointed strategy.”
The best sales talent will seek new ways to collaborate with marketing to reach a common goal—which means looking at the situation from a new perspective. This skill is crucial to revenue growth as account-based sales continues to dominate the landscape.
Selling was becoming more complex on its own, but the virtual environment has exacerbated the process. Before the pandemic, we may have read body language or other social cues while meeting in-person with prospects or coworkers. Now, we don’t have that luxury – which makes it more challenging to understand just how the sales process is going.
“We need visibility into our forecast and into the whitespace within current accounts to be able to measure progress towards our goals,” says Upwork’s VP of Enterprise Sales, Samantha DeStefano. “And we can’t just walk the halls and overhear conversations from our teams. I suggest recording your calls and reviewing them with your team to unpack what worked and what didn’t in a sales cycle. This information drives efficiency in future sales.”
Understanding what’s working in this environment and quickly putting those tactics into play are the skills of an emotionally intelligent seller – the kind of seller who withstands the challenges of external forces and succeeds. Emotional intelligence, and particularly the practice of deep listening, will always be relevant to world-class selling in competitive environments.
Maybe these three skills aren’t the most Instagrammable or fit into a TikTok video, but they just might make you the top seller on your team.