Too lazy to read? Here’s the highlight: We have it all backwards. The hard sales skills are easy to master. The so-called “basics” (or “soft” skills) can take a lifetime to learn. These are what I call The Essentials.
It’s time to stop talking about the “basics” in sales.
And, let’s stop talking about “soft” skills in sales.
Connecting on a human level. Demonstrating curiosity. Fostering rapport. Activating interest. Building trust. Establishing collaborative relationships.
These aren’t basic skills. They are Essential skills.
Labeling these “basic” or “soft” does a tremendous disservice to sellers.
Sales leaders can’t define and track the “basics” with metrics so they don’t buy into them.
As a result, they don’t emphasize their importance to their sellers.
On top of that, every seller believes that they already “know the basics.”
So, they stop paying attention to them. And stop practicing them.
Here’s the problem: “knowing” is not equivalent to proficiency.
In any competitive sales situation, where the margin between winning and losing is razor thin, it is the “basics” that often spell the difference between winning and losing.
If you’re not above average with the Essential sales skills, you’ll win sales at below average rates.
We have it all backwards and upside down in sales.
The so-called hard skills are actually the easy ones to achieve proficiency in.
The Essentials skills require a lifetime of learning and practice to master.
As we continue to automate sales, the machines start with the hard skills first. They are more easily defined and measured.
But, where machines fall short is in the Essential human sales skills.
Authenticity, connection, rapport, empathy, context, insights, relationships.
So, what naive sellers and sales leaders consider to be basics, are, in fact, the advanced selling skills that will enable you to win more deals.
And keep your job.
Because, if you can’t be more human than a machine, what future do you have in sales?
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If you have even the slightest dissatisfaction with your ability to win deals, then you need to make a change in how you learn and grow your capabilities.
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