"Tom was a great help in finding me employment"
In this section
5 Essential Skills to Succeed in Sales
What do employers look for in new sales recruits?
We all know that ‘hot-shot’ salesperson who could sell ‘coal to Newcastle’ and ‘ice to the Inuit’.
However, there are key sales skills and attributes which differentiate the exceptional sales performers from the ‘mavericks’ and the merely mediocre performers who happen to be good at serving customers and taking orders?
Ask any sales leader what she wants from her sales team, as well as the necessary qualities to communicate, engage, enthuse and be persuasive, and these will be the top five in her wish list:
- Positive attitude
- Works to a proven process
- Keeps skills up to date
- Has personal goals that align with business goals
Of course, these are useful pointers for being successful in many roles, but in sales positions they are paramount.
Positivity is an essential sales trait
Sales staff must be positive. They have to sound enthusiastic about the product or service they are selling to convince the prospective customer to buy.
That’s the reason why so many sales staff can come across as almost falsely passionate about what you perceive to be quite an inane product! If a sales professional's enthusiasm isn’t catching, then they won’t make the sale, whether that’s a new bed, software or a peristaltic pump into the medical devices sector!
Positivity must also embrace the belief that any targets are reachable so that drive is maintained. And an overall positive mindset helps anyone get along.
Sales CVs must highlight hard work
Hard work comes with the territory of sales and is not a career path for the ‘faint-hearted’. Be that hitting the phones repetitively, facing rejection when cold-calling, or driving 20,000 miles or so a year to make a sale.
Being good at sales is hard work. And, to succeed consistently in sales, month after month, year after year, is even harder.
All hiring managers are looking for proof of hard work on the CVs they receive. So, if you are a CCTV salesman, you should not only detail your headline sales income and performance against targets but also describe things like:
- The numbers of customers’ homes you visit in a day;
- The number of quotes you raise;
- Your quote conversion ratios;
- Performance against key performance indicators, or KPIs;
- The size of the patch covered;
- The research you undertake to ‘keep your saw sharpened’ to be able to answer every possible question the buyers may ask;
- The exhibition stands that you’ve manned from 8 AM to 9 PM;
- The records you keep on your CRM of your pipeline and the accuracy of your forecasting;
- The level of going above and beyond all expectations to deliver phenomenal service to your customers;
- How you’ve not only done it for your interests but helped others too by covering their patch due to sickness, mentoring, coaching, introducing new products, services, and better ways of operating.
You’re a sales professional. Yes, we know it’s British to be humble but also don’t fear to boast a little on your CV!
Top performers work to a proven process
A diligent and successful salesperson will follow proven methods to meet sales and targets. All businesses should look to their top performers to see how they operate and what they do to set them apart.
Every organisation has ways of working, but in sales, there are specific processes that must be followed. Such as prospecting for new business even when you’re having your best month ever, or following up a sale from the previous month to ensure you’re at the forefront of their mind when they next purchase.
Usually, these are measured by key performance indicators, so that no matter how well you’re doing against your targets, you are still doing the fundamental things every day that will lead to consistently high performance.
We all know that salespeople hate paperwork, but the top sales performers appreciate the links between appointments/quotes/sales, and it’s proven that the best are also great predictors of pipeline and forecasted sales.
Top performers value CRM systems; they appreciate the link between data and more vibrant client relationships and therefore, higher commissions. They also look at ways to use technology that help them be on the frontline with clients more often.
However, best practices today, may not be in a decade’s time, so both sales leaders and true sales professionals must look at their sales processes at least once a year to see what can be improved.
Keeping sales skills up to date
A top salesperson must always be trying to improve. Standing still leads to being comfortable and becoming complacent. Sales staff must, therefore, research and train in new sales and marketing methodologies. In the 1970’s it was ‘Xerox Professional Selling’, the ’80s was ‘SPIN’, then ‘consultative selling’ in the ‘90s through early 2000s and now ‘The Challenger Sale’ and ‘Social Selling’.
Top sales performers today operate in a completely different way to that of twenty years ago and use ‘social selling’ techniques that would have very much been in the domain of the marketing department.
Top salespeople must also research likely questions from leads and be knowledgeable across all facets of the product they are selling. Top performers read the trade websites, subscribe to the trade journals and attend the trade exhibitions to ensure they’re up to speed with clients, competitors’ products and market trends.
Goal-setting is an essential sales characteristic
Every business has its goals, and every member of staff, particularly salespeople, must have their own goals. Business set goals are likely a monthly sales target, but may also include factors such as positive referrals, customer satisfaction surveys or meeting sales targets in conjunction with ‘soft targets’ such as improving CRM usage.
A good salesperson will reach the targets his employer sets, but also has their personal objectives, such as earning enough for a deposit on a home, a new car or some other luxury that is truly important to them. Doing so keeps them focused, passionate for consistent performance and motivated to succeed.
“Recruit for attitude and train for skills”
If a candidate’s attitude isn’t right to start with, they won’t go far in sales, no matter how much training the company offers them.
However, if they have ambition, determination, a natural ability to engage and persuade and an abundance of purpose, then the foundation blocks are there. All specifics relating to a product, or an industry sector can be taught, and knowledge will be developed over time.
Sales is an instinct, an intuition, an attitude, and yes, these can be enhanced with training and experience. However, the ability to engage and interact, together with ‘go-getting’ traits such as drive, perseverance, confidence and ambition, are forged long before a sales career commences.
Define your sales skills in your CV
The importance of highlighting suitable skills when applying and interviewing for any job is now a standard tactic. Most companies use keywords and AI software to help with sourcing and shortlisting the best applicants. To compete, and be seen by hiring managers among thousands of other potential applicants, you must detail your skills.
We recommend that you specify on your CV, all sales training courses that you have undertaken and perhaps even name the authors or sales books/methodologies that you have read or listened to. Also, detail any sales conferences that you have attended.
This information could trigger the interest of a hiring manager that for instance, is passionate about a particular sales methodology. However, there is a caveat; keywords are only half the battle - they may land you an interview, but if you can’t back up your CV with concrete examples of particular sales skills, methodologies or knowledge, you will not get hired!
Submit your CV
Take the first step towards your new role today
With hundreds of jobs available, now is the time to look for your perfect position
by Rob Scott
About the author
From our blogRead more
Our employers say...
Thanks for all your help during the recruitment process. I have been extremely impressed with Aaron Wallis especially when compared to other agencies we have dealt with. I really felt you grasped the type of person we required and found strong candidates.
UK Sales Manager, Nexcom
I just wanted to thank you for your help with our recruitment process which went very smoothly and has – we hope – found us just the person for the job!
Managing Director, Citrefine International Ltd
Rob is a true recruitment professional that goes the extra mile that I have never experienced from any other recruitment agency before. If you need sales people call Rob or someone in his team, as they really are experts in sales recruitment.
Sales Director, Inside Business
I found Aaron Wallis to be very professional and efficient, taking time to understand the role and the type of candidate we were looking for. The candidates they put forward met our criteria and were of a high standard. The service they provided was exemplary and I would have no hesitation in recommending them, and will certainly consider using them again in the future.
HR Assistant, Fischer Connectors Ltd
Giles is highly professional and was a pleasure to work with. He achieves excellent results through his personable skills and tenacity. I have no hesitation in recommending Giles to anyone who considers employing his services.
Commercial Director, G4S Government & Outsourcing Solutions
Since joining DSGi, Rob has been a supplier of permanent staff and has performed to an extremely high standard, successfully filling 98% of roles he has worked on. If anyone is looking for a good sales and marketing based consultancy with an informal yet professional approach, I would recommend Rob.
Senior Recruitment Consultant, DSG International
Understood the type of person we were looking for and good follow ups - not too frequent.
Managing Director, bigHead Bonding Fasteners Ltd
We were impressed not only by the quality of candidates you found for us but also the level of information, preparation and qualification you put into the process. You continually kept us informed of each person’s feelings about the process, which is very important but often overlooked. I am looking forward to working with your company again in the future.
Commercial Director, Incentive Facilities Management
Aaron Wallis has continuously provided us with suitable candidates that have been proactively sourced. Having used countless recruitment companies, Aaron Wallis are the only company that I can count on to deliver.
Managing Director, JARK Healthcare Recruitment
In an industry where people over promise and under deliver, Rob and his teams have consistently provided a high-quality service. It is great to deal with someone that has an excellent understanding of UK industry, and a passion for sales.
Sales Manager, TR Fasteners
I have always found Rob to be very knowledgeable about our industry sector, and it is refreshing to see after all of these years that Rob continues to quickly and accurately understand my requirements.
HR and General Manager, THK
Rob’s knowledge of the recruitment industry and his thoughts and how to make it better for his clients have always been eye opening. I would recommend Rob to anybody who is looking for a professional, knowledgeable and flexible recruitment specialist.
CEO, Friday Ad Online Services
I have used Aaron Wallis to fill a number of our Sales Development Manager roles and I have found them to provide a very professional service. I will use their services again in future recruitment campaigns.
HR Business Partner, Greene King
I really liked the YouTube presentations which made the service seem both simple and accessible. The company came to see me, and my management team, at short notice to present their service and I liked the support and advice that I received about maximising the results from the applicant.
Managing Director, Leisuresec plc
We appointed Aaron Wallis in February and the successful candidate, out of the six which Aaron Wallis introduced, was able to join Alphametrics before the end of April. The whole process took less than three months. I would recommend Aaron Wallis' services to others without hesitation.
Chief Financial Officer, Alphametrics
Giles Phillips is a rare find in the minefield of sales recruitment; an honest and thoughtful recruiter who considers the needs of both the client AND the candidate to create perfect role matches. I look forward to working with him again in the future.
Marketing Director, City of London Police
Our candidates say...
Aaron Wallis is an outstanding recruitment agency specialising in high calibre sales positions. I was working directly with Darren Dewrance who went above and beyond my expectations in sourcing me my perfect role. I was kept in regular communication with Darren and he worked extremely hard to secure my dream job. Highly recommended and Thanks Darren for all your expertise and hard work.
R. Sealy, Candidate
Fantastic service, helped me find my ideal job quickly and smoothly. Would highly recommend them.
C. Caine, Candidate
Very good advice and support was given during the course of the interviewing process. Potential job seekers would be well advised to use this company whilst looking for their new career.
R. Speakman, Candidate
I have to say coming across and having dealings with Aaron Wallis proved to be very successful. Being highly experienced did not seem to count for much during my job search bit a conversation with Robert Scott gave me a real confidence boost and enabled to get a position at the age of 63. Great service!!!
D. Burgess, Candidate
I can honestly say that the time and expertise you gave me was way beyond any other recruitment consultant I dealt with. You are a rarity in your industry.
S. Akers, Candidate
Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment are a very friendly and professional recruitment organisation who listen to your needs, work with you and act on your behalf which sets them apart from many of their competitors who in my experience are willing to throw anything at you. We discussed my history, my preferences and my wishes - one opportunity was introduced. It was perfect. I start at the end of June.
R. Buckley, Candidate
Aaron Wallis helped me secure a position I really wanted. Giles sought to keep me updated with all the details preceding interviews and after with feedback. I would highly recommend Giles and Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment.
L. Taylor, Candidate
The service provided by Aaron Wallis has been just great. I was constantly informed about what was going on with the process interview and the agent has always been supportive and kind to me.
L. Colagrossi, Candidate
A great recruitment company to work with. Excellent experience with Aaron Wallis through the entire recruitment process. The team was really professional and extremely helpful. Darren was a pleasure to work with. He was friendly, supportive and gave me great advice. Thank you very much!
A. Bauchet, Candidate
Aaron Wallis (and in particular Rob Scott) have been fantastic throughout the recruitment process, and even a few months down the line, still continues to care. Rob clearly cares about each individual and has a wealth of knowledge and expertise, which shows in the work he does. Each candidate is not just a number, and the support received from Aaron Wallis has helped me get a career which I truly enjoy.
M. White, Candidate
Less than two weeks after joining Aaron Wallis I was offered my new job. I got a £10,000 rise in my basic salary, car allowance, a laptop and many other perks, which will help to further my career. I definitely would not have found my dream job without the help of Aaron Wallis.
C. Hoy, Candidate
Really excellent experience dealing with Aaron Wallis. Liam Oakes who helped me get a great job was brilliant. Kept me up to date during the process and offered great help and advice, and a thoroughly nice guy. Highly recommended!
J. Hathaway, Candidate
The Recruitment agent I used, Simon, was extremely helpful and really went the extra mile to ensure all of my questions were answered, and that I felt as comfortable and prepared as possible. Very professional company and would definitely recommend to others. Thank you Aaron Wallis!
A. Callaby, Candidate
Fantastic customer service, communication was brilliant, happy polite people to talk to, made everything a lot easier and smoother. Thank you for all your help getting me back in the work force, Keep up the good work :-)
K. Everitt, Candidate
Perfect from start to finish. Simon deserves a shout out. Best recruiter there is. If you need a job, this guy will get you one. He's like the super man of recruiters. Top man, can't recommend him enough.
M. Crisp, Candidate
Excellent experience from first contact to ultimately securing a suitable placement. Giles looked after me in a very professional and friendly manner. He used his expertise and experience to ensure I was put forward for the most suitable positions for my skill set and found me a new role very quickly. I can't recommend Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment highly enough.
M. Green, Candidate
Good swift process with Aaron Wallis, informative regarding the role and the process was moved at a good pace with healthy interaction. Would recommend them to anyone pursuing a change.
S. Bartlett, Candidate
I've had a really good experience working with Giles Phillips at Aaron Wallis. From initial contact to the finer details of securing the job, he has been very professional and a pleasure to work with.
M. Shutt, Candidate
Excellent service, very professional and friendly, would and have, recommended Aaron Wallis.
E. Heley, Candidate
Aaron Wallis have provided me with an excellent service, Giles went out of his way to help me preparing for my interview and supported me through all the processes. If you need an agency to give you a fully professional and consultative approach to finding you a new career move, the Aaron Wallis can certainly provide this for you.
D. Richards, Candidate