There’s a lot of talk about which sales skills sellers need to be successful today – but what sales skills will be required for success tomorrow ?
For several years now, I have been noticing a subtle but profound shift in the sales skills, attributes and competences sellers need in order to sell successfully and generate more business. The specific traits that make someone successful today are – in some cases, very – different from what was required even a few short years ago.
When I was on a conference panel recently, someone in the audience asked the question “which core skills do you consider most important for future leaders ?”.
As I formulated my response, a fundamental thought hit me: if you’re selling to the highest levels of your client’s organisation, your skill set has to closely to match that of your client.
Put simply: [tweetherder]the core sales skills you will need to sell successfully in the future need to be similar to the ones that leaders need to succeed[/tweetherder] – but approach things from a different angle.
1. Helping buyers make sense of complexity.
As a result of increasing globalisation, information/data explosion, geographic/demographic shifts and shifts in workplace population and practices, the #1 skill that leaders need to be successful in the future is the ability to deal with complexity and ambiguity – and make decisions in a shifting, uncertain world.
Sellers that can help bring clarity, reduce the sense of overwhelm their clients face and help them make decisions in the face of uncertainty will stand out – and be highly sought after – in the future.
2. Being open to diverging perspectives.
The world of “the decision maker” is over – flattening corporate hierarchies, an increased sensitivity to risk (seeking security in joint decision making) and the rise of servant leadership mean leaders in the future will need to take into account (and appeal to) a wide range of constituents and points of view.
So do sellers: as leaders open up to and integrate different points of view in their decision making process, those same voices will influence the buying (and selling) process. [tweetherder]Sellers that will do well will seek out, integrate and influence many decision makers within the organisation[/tweetherder] – creating harmony where previously only discord existed.
3. Having a genuine sense of humbleness.
The most successful leaders I have come across in my career overwhelmingly shared one single (yet, uncommon) trait: a genuine sense of humbleness. Within corporations, strong-willed, autocratic leaders who do well are the exception – not the rule.
Most executives I meet seek the same quality in a trusted advisor: someone who has a genuine sense of humbleness, putting the client and their interests first and working towards the common interest of all involved. Someone who does not speak in buzzwords, think in 3-box diagrams or can’t resist the urge to lecture – but is plainspoken and has a genuine desire to serve them and their organisation.
[tweetherder]As we move into a new paradigm in sales, shifting from “consultative” selling to “insights based” selling, a new set of sales skills is required[/tweetherder] – especially from those selling to senior leaders and executives.
Sales skills that are commonly considered important like the ability to ask great questions, relate to others or advance towards the close are increasingly simply what gets you the meeting – not what gets you the deal.