Ask anybody what kind of skills you need to succeed in sales and marketing.
“Passion for your product,” one might say.
“Good communication skills,” says another.
“Be flexible,” is another piece of sage advice.
The trouble is, pearls of wisdom such as these are so broad as to be practically intangible – they apply to just about every other industry and can be gleaned from any advice column. So, what are some concrete, sales-specific skills you need to succeed?
1. Be SEO-savvy
It goes without saying at this point: we live in a digital age. You are the liaison between your company or product and the consumer. As such, you need to understand everything digital (it’s the primary means by which you reach your target market). In other words, where and how you market your product online may make or break your quota. Whether you teach yourself or take a course, learning how to optimize your product online is critical to keeping ahead of the game.
2. Be trendy
Make sure that you’re in touch with current trends, both within your market and in the marketing world at large. When you’re hard at work on something, ask yourself:
- What strategies or methods are currently popular?
- Which campaigns are reaching the most clients?
- What forms of media are most popular among your target market right now?
Knowing what makes your clients tick and how best to reach and engage them is just as important as keeping the product itself up-to-date.
3. Be data-driven
Consumer needs are often assessed through data research. As a liaison between consumer and product, you need to know how to interpret and analyze that data. Can you look at raw data – from numbers and charts to written client feedback – and connect the dots? Could you hold your own in a conversation about the state of your own product market? With industry and trend knowledge, you can start developing unique strategy based on hard facts.
4. Be personable, in person
While you’ll need to thrive on digital platforms, in-person communication skills will be a vital skill in building your career. Don’t overlook the importance of personal interaction with your clients and colleagues. Strong interpersonal skills (from a persuasive elevator pitch to casual small talk) will separate you from the indiscriminate sea of faceless names on a screen – and support your personal rapport and energy in your online communication. The golden rule of your sales strategy should be how you can help your client, not what you can sell.
5. Be specific
Many marketing and sales roles require specialist knowledge. An company selling high-tech recording equipment would require their salespeople to have in-depth knowledge of audio recording. A book publisher would look to hire someone familiar with the literary world. You can’t be an expert in every field, but if you are knowledgeable about a particular product or industry, demonstrate to your potential employer that you are exceptionally equipped to sell their product.
6. Be quick on the uptake
Adaptability is an essential skill. Demonstrate a willingness to learn and show your employer that you’re able to quickly internalize critical information so that you can market and sell your product to clients with confidence. Some companies prefer to hire candidates without specialist training or knowledge, allowing them to shape their employees to their own sales strategy.
7. Be compelling
You need to hook your market with engaging, entertaining and informative text in multiple forms of media. Your writing should be catchy, yet still concise. Even offline, any sales or marketing role requires strong presentation skills – and a lot of confidence. Both your spoken and written words need to be positive and persuasive to your audience, whoever they might be. Some people are natural communicators, but for most of us, it’s a skill that takes a lot of time and energy to acquire.
8. Be organized
This may seem like a no-brainer, but good time management and organizational skills are critical. Most sales and marketing jobs will leave the details up to you – and assess your performance based on results. Whether you keep a physical day planner by your side or live by the calendar reminders on your phone, develop a system to plan out your time, so that you can achieve your goals in a timely and manageable way.