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The Top 3 Skills You Must Have

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When you think about all the skills that are needed in sales, the list can seem overwhelming. Try to improve every skill and you will end up spinning your wheels and see little progress.

A more effective means to increase your sales and your effectiveness is to focus on improving the 3 most important sales skills. Ensure your competence with these 3 and build a solid foundation on which to build your sales career.

1. Rapport

Thomas Phelps
The fact is that people will buy from those they like and will find a reason to not buy from someone they do not like. Without an ability to build rapport, a sales professional is severely handicapped.

Likeability requires honesty, integrity and self-confidence but it does not demand that a sales professional try to become everyone's best friend. Many less-tenured sales reps feel that they need to make every customer like them and end up trying to be as likeable as possible. While likeability is of paramount importance, reps must understand that in order to be "liked" by a customer, the rep must be authentic.

We all know people whom we can describe as being "fake." These people may seem to be popular as they have a knack for fitting in wherever they go, but they lack true rapport. Only those who present themselves as they truly are can build actual rapport.

Finally, do not mistake being liked with likeability and rapport. Being liked does little for your career in sales while having rapport building skills and an inherent likeability trait can propel your career higher and farther than most can imagine.

2. Business Acumen

If you do not understand your customer's businesses; their challenges, opportunities, competitors and goals, your customer will have a difficult time seeing value in your services. Business acumen is the ability to understand not only how business in general works, but how your industry affects your customers and prospects.

Developing acumen takes a combination of effective questioning, listening and research skills. You need to learn how to ask questions to your customers, which get them talking about their business. You need to actively listen to their answers and figure out how you and your product can have a positive impact on your customer's business. You also need to understand how your product can have a negative impact on your customer's business and how to mitigate these negative consequences.

Lastly, developing strong business acumen takes research. Pre-call planning is an important step that successful sales professionals take before visiting with a customer or prospect. Doing an Internet search on your customer and their industry can provide valuable insight to emerging trends that are or will soon be affecting the way they do business.

3. The Right Attitude

If you have excellent rapport building skills and a strong business acumen but live your days with a negative or pessimistic attitude, your skills will be wasted. No matter how much training you have or how strong your sales team is, it is ultimately your attitude that determines your success.

An often used phase states that it is your attitude, not your aptitude that determines your altitude. In other words, before you can reach the top levels of success, you need to have the right attitude.

Not only is a positive attitude contagious (meaning that a good attitude will positively affect your customers,) but having a good attitude places you in the right mental state to be more open for opportunities that seem to avoid those with negative attitudes.

Knowing that you are in need of an attitude adjustment is not enough to turn your attitude around for an extended time. It takes diligent effort, self-awareness and plenty of time to develop the habit of having, keeping and presenting a positive attitude.

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