6 Fundamental Sales Skills All Reps Should Master

Emily Kingland
March 30, 2020
6 Fundamental Sales Skills All Reps Should Master

Have you ever taken sales advice from an 8-year-old?

You might actually learn more than you’d expect! For some reason, as adults, we think we need to overcomplicate things. The tendency to be convoluted only harms our sales game.

Life (and sales) doesn’t have to be that complicated! Sometimes all we need is a little refresher.

Take, for instance, John Barrows’ daughter Charlotte, who helped her dad write I Want to Be in Sales When I Grow Up. This children’s career book describes how a little girl — Charlie — perseveres through the real challenges that come up in the sales profession.

via iwanttobeinsaleswhenigrowup.com

Throughout the 20-page book, Charlie explores six key sales skills any sales rep should master. The six fundamental sales skills are

  1. Believe in what you sell
  2. Practice makes perfect
  3. Work hard
  4. Know who you’re selling to and what they like
  5. It’s not all about the money
  6. Remember to have fun

Sounds simple? That’s the point! 

Let’s break down these six sales skills and their relevance for sales pros.

This post is based on a podcast featuring Lori Richardson of Score More Sales and James Carbary of Sweet Fish Media. To hear this episode and more like it, subscribe to The B2B Sales Show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Kids and sales skills

What’s great about John and Charlotte Barrows’ book is that it’s one of a kind. What other pieces of children’s literature do you know of that directly tackle the sales profession?

"John Barrows is one of those guys who's a male ally. He's championing diversity and inclusion in sales."

Lori Richardson

There are children’s books that explore being

  • a doctor
  • an artist
  • a veterinarian
  • a scientist
  • a chef
  • a ballerina
  • even a ghost hunter!

For how common and potentially lucrative a career in sales is, you’d think there would be more of an emphasis on teaching kids about it.

via Unsplash

Maybe that’s why we make it so complicated as adults. Understanding the fundamentals of selling and talking about money just isn’t a priority in today’s education system.

So, before you go and try to land a mega-deal, get a grasp on the fundamentals of selling. It’ll make life and work a lot easier — I guarantee it!

Six fundamental sales skills

Time to take a big dose of humility and learn something from a kid in sales. Trust me, you’re not going to regret it.

1. Believe in what you sell

Indian author and activist Shiv Khera once said, “90 percent of selling is conviction and 10 percent is persuasion.”

In order to be successful in sales, you need to believe in the product and the outcome the product generates. For Charlie, it was cookies. Cookies bring happiness — simple as that.

What are you aiming to sell? Do you believe in what it represents?

If you don’t believe in the product or service you’re selling, how do you expect others to?

If you find you don’t believe in what you’re selling, don’t waste your time or effort in trying to make it work. You’ll be much more successful in selling something you have a conviction for.

2. Practice makes perfect

It’s funny (and kind of irritating) how clichés almost always ring true. Remember your parents or coaches telling you “practice makes perfect” all through your childhood?

via Unsplash

You can’t expect to be a pro at anything the first time trying it. That goes for sales, too.

Get your hands dirty with these methods for practicing and refining your sales skills:

  • Roleplay sales calls and in-person meetings.
  • Practice public speaking. Try recording yourself to see what you can improve upon.
  • Find a mentor who can guide you.
  • Record your sales calls to see what you can do better next time.
  • Ask for feedback.
  • Prepare for rejection (it’s part of the gig).
  • Practice active listening.
  • Practice controlling your emotions.

There are plenty of opportunities in everyday life for you to practice your sales skills. Being more intentional about refining your skills will help them come more naturally.

3. Work hard

As long as you believe in what you’re selling and the outcome it offers, it’s time to put in the work.

Dealing with rejection can be tough. However, the more at-bats you take, the higher the chance is that you get a hit (aka, make a sale).

Try not to get discouraged from uninterested prospects. The more leads you bring in, and the more care you put into building customer relationships will eventually begin to pay off. Plus, you’re getting even more practice in!

4. Know who you're selling to and what they like

There’s not much of a point in trying to sell to someone who doesn’t need what you’re offering.

Don’t waste your time on the unqualified leads. Your chances are much better with people who have expressed interest or people you know could integrate your solution to make their lives easier.

via Unsplash

Really understand your customers. Oftentimes, it helps to create an ideal buyer persona or two. Think about your ideal customer. 

  • How do they spend their time?
  • What do they do for work?
  • What do they care about?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • What does their average day look like?

Generating an ideal customer profile can help you target your selling efforts.

5. It's not all about the money

How’s that for advice from an 8-year-old?

Of course, money is one of the greatest drivers for salespeople. But, to be really successful in sales, you need to care about helping people more than you care about closing the sale.

Customers aren’t dumb. They can sniff out a money-grubber from a mile away. Especially with all of the resources consumers have at their fingertips, you need to be more than a sales rep.

"Sales has changed. You need to be really sharp to be successful at selling."

Lori Richardson

You should be willing to help the customer no matter if they purchase from you or somewhere else. If the customer sees that you’re being authentic and truly helpful, they’ll either buy from you or — at the very least — remember how sincerely you treated them.

Both scenarios are a win!

6. Remember to have fun!

This one’s on Charlie’s list of fundamental sales skills for a very good reason.

It’s easy to have fun when you’re closing a deal. But, it’s important to find joy in even the difficult parts of sales.

via Unsplash

One way to have fun in sales is to turn challenges into games. Make more calls than you did yesterday. Get a better open rate this week than last week. See how many continuing education courses you can complete in a year.

Sell more boxes of cookies per customer!

See? You really can have fun at work.

Mastering fundamental sales skills

That little girl is pretty smart, isn’t she? Imagine if you knew what she knows about sales as a kid!

It’s not too late to nail down the fundamental sales skills you need to be successful. As long as you’re always willing to learn something new — even from an 8-year-old — you can count on a fulfilling career in sales.

Want more top-notch B2B sales insights? Subscribe to The B2B Sales Show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.