To be successful in sales, many skills are needed. Ask 100 different sales professionals what they feel to be the most important skill and you'll likely to hear many different answers.
There are, however, consistencies in the answers of many that point us to a set of skills that those who enjoy the most success demonstrate throughout their careers. While your list of critical sales skills may differ slightly than this list, I am confident that a rep who has mastery of these skills is destined for great success.
Honesty and IntegrityThe days of telling "white lies" being acceptable in sales are long gone. In fact, not being honest with your customers has never been acceptable by the top achievers. Those that have or continue to believe that selling demands telling a "small lie" from time to time have done more damage to the sales industry than we could ever imagine.
Honesty demands that you never present yourself, your company or your product as something that is not true. Making exaggerated claims will almost always come back to harm you and will do nothing positive for your professional reputation.
While answering a customer's question fully honestly may cost you a deal from time to time, in the long run, your success will be greatly enhanced as you earn a reputation as an honest professional.
Strong Work EthicSales was once described as the easiest, low paying job in the world and also as the hardest, best paying career in the world. Your daily approach to sales can either be one of doing only what is needed or doing much more than is expected. Those that do enough to get buy and to avoid the attention of their managers will never be among the top professionals in their industry. While they may enjoy success from time to time, their long term potential is greatly diminished due to their poor work ethic.
Those that understand that success only comes before work in the dictionary, understand that taking the easy way out creates more challenges in the future. The temptation to trade short term pleasure for long term pain is a foreign concept to professionals with strong work ethics.
Dedicated to ImprovingWould you go allow a doctor who graduated medical school ten years ago operate on you if you learned that she never attended an additional training class since graduation? Probably not. In order for skills to remain sharp, they must consistently be used, enhanced and added upon. Your skills as a sales professional are the same. Learning how to prospect once but never attending another seminar or training on prospecting is a guaranteed way for you to get "passed" by your competition.
A professional needs to not only develop new skills but to be dedicated to continually improving the skills they have. The best professionals always make time to work on their development. Steven Covey, author of the 7 Habits of Successful People, said that the most successful among us take time out consistently to "sharpen their saws." This means that they continue to use the tools or skills they have learned but also take time to make sure their skills are sharp.
Anthony Robbins has a philosophy he calls "CANI!" which stands for a Commitment to Never-ending Improvement. He believes that in order to be truly successful, we must improve all of life areas daily. Imagine how much success you would enjoy if you were committed to improving your sales skills every day! No matter how little you improved each day, the end result over a single year would be incredible!