Skills series: 7 in-demand skills for sales

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Skills series: 7 in-demand skills for sales

The skills needed to succeed in the modern workplace are evolving. This article is part of our skills series, which investigates what different roles and different departments need in order to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.

Here are some in-demand sales skills that will win you brownie points if you can demonstrate them in an interview or previous experience. These are also skills that HR professionals should be on the lookout for during the hiring process.

7 Key Sales Skills


Patience is a vital skill in sales because the best salespeople know how to wait on a lead. Patience means not forgetting about that email lead who might become a customer in a few months. It entails knowing how to nurture a lead instead of rushing them. You also need to be patient to provide good customer service, as, needless to say, losing your temper with a customer should be avoided.


Good speaking skills are great to have for a sales position because they’ll need to know how to think on their feet, deliver a persuasive speech, and facilitate a comfortable conversation with a potential customer. If you’re a recruiter, look for experience that would indicate healthy speaking skills like giving lectures or seminars. If you’re a job applicant who wants to gain some speaking skills, try taking an improvisation class.


Salespeople must be self-motivated, because it’s rare for a customer to fall in your lap. Good salespeople implement inbound and outbound marketing to find and close deals, and don’t waste time waiting for the perfect lead to fall into their lap. Indicators for candidates with great motivation include initiating a successful project, leading a team, and having started a business or side project.


Resilience is an important trait for sales because good salespeople aren’t discourage when a sale falls through or a long-time customer leaves. Instead, they learn from their mistakes, improve, and remain persistent with their jobs. Look for indicators of resilience in stories of success. If you’re interviewing candidates, ask them to explain a time they overcame an obstacle, or when they demonstrated resilience in the face of a difficult customer.


Sales is all about telling a story; you want consumers to understand the benefits your product or service will bring to their lives, and you do this by painting a picture. Look at the storytelling skills your candidates display in their cover letters and interviews. Ask yourself: how convincing are they? Do they bring the story to life?

Can identify customer needs

One could argue that the best salesperson can sell a motorcycle to a bird, but great salespeople shouldn’t want to do that in the first place. To be successful in sales, you need to have an understanding of who your customers are according to their needs. If someone will not find your product or service useful or a good fit, acknowledge it and don’t sell to them. Instead, a good salesperson accurately identifies a target audience for whom the product or service they’re selling would be useful and welcome.

Good communicators

Look for good communication skills, whether via email, phone, or in-person. A good salesperson should be able to interface with a client on their preferred communication channel, stay on top of their messages so they don’t keep any client waiting too long, and know how to adapt communications for different channels.

What sales skills do you look for when hiring a salesperson? Share in the comments below.

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