Every single one of us is a salesperson. If you don’t work in sales, you might think you don’t sell, but that is undoubtedly false. The fact is, each one of us sells every single day.
The great thing about sales is that is a universal skill. The skill of selling in one industry can be transferred to another with relative ease. The methodology behind the sales process might change, but the fundamental skill remains the same.
While many sales professionals understand that selling skills are transferable from one industry or job to the next, what’s less intuitive is that sales skills are transferrable from one’s professional life to personal life. Sure, most of us won’t find ourselves booking a demo at the dinner table or logging our favorite restaurants into a CRM. However, there are a surprising number of sales skills that are relevant to your life outside the office.
Let’s take a look at five of them now.
1) Building Rapport
Building rapport is a crucial part of every sales call. Without rapport, it is nearly impossible to create a connection with the prospect. Keep in mind that prospects do not want to feel like they are being sold to. While they understand that their conversation with a sales rep is part of a sales call, they will be incredibly guarded if a connection is not established.
So how can a sales rep build rapport? Simply find a point of commonality (perhaps on a prospect’s LinkedIn profile or website) and then explore that point.
This same skill is applicable to meeting new people in everyday life. Skipping the rapport-building step in networking is the equivalent of walking up to someone you just met and shouting in his or her face, “Please like me!!” The person will most likely turn around and sprint in the opposite direction.
If you really want to connect with someone, find a point of commonality. The only problem is that people don’t walk around with their LinkedIn profile stamped on their foreheads. Try asking general questions about interests and background. From there, hone in on a point of interest that will establish trust and foster a connection.
2) Active Listening
To the vast majority, salespeople are loud, ostentatious people who know all the right things to say and talk faster than you can think. But for those who have worked in sales, you know this stereotype could not be farther from the truth. In fact, some of the best salespeople are fairly quiet types.
The best reps follow the “80/20 rule,” meaning they let the prospect talk for 80% of the conversation while they only speak for 20% of the time. During the 80%, the rep is listening intently and noting conversational points to emphasize later.
This same skill should be applied to everyday conversation. Have you ever had a super talkative friend that when you spoke to him you thought to yourself, “I really like when he cuts me off and hogs the entire conversation”? Neither have I, which is why it’s important to let the person you’re conversing with speak as much as possible. Listen for interesting tidbits to follow up on. I guarantee you will have much more engaging interactions.
3) Asking the Right Questions
It might seem like you are letting the prospect dominate the conversation if you remain silent for 80% of the time. However, the best sales reps know they can maintain control of the call simply by asking a few, brief, targeted questions. By asking the next logical question, the rep always knows the direction the conversation is moving in and can control its outcome.
This same skill is very applicable to everyday conversation. In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie writes, “Many [people] call a doctor when all they want is an audience.” The best thing you can do for someone is listen to them. By actively listening to the person you are speaking with rather than interrupting them you truly can connect with them. Then by following up with logical, relevant questions you can dictate the direction of the conversation while barely saying anything at all.
4) Objection Handling
Objection handling, the ability to effectively respond to and quell a buyer’s criticism or doubt, is a core sales skill. Almost every prospect has an objection. It is rare for a rep to call someone who has no objections at all. Reps need to be able to acknowledge and diffuse objections to eventually reach the point where the prospect wants to become a customer.
Much like in sales, objection handling is an incredibly important skill in everyday life. You will run into objections everywhere you go. People will take it upon themselves to object to your propositions, actions, and decisions no matter what. If you don’t know how to handle them, you will never get your way.
Without these ever-so-important objection-handling skills your agenda will always be pushed to the side. Best to take a cue from salespeople, and think of all potential argument-killing criticisms or questions and strategize responses before your presentation or proposal.
5) Goal Setting
Whether it be chasing down a monthly quota or pushing to make 100 dials in a day, every salesperson practices goal setting. Some are long-term while others are short-term. Salespeople are masters at motivating themselves based on self-defined and organizational goals.
In order to be more productive not only in your professional but also your personal life, start by setting some short-term goals for yourself. This could be anything from going to the gym later today to having dinner with the family the rest of the week.
The specific goals can vary. What’s important is that you learn to stick to them. By establishing patterns you will become more productive and positive, and these traits will extend to all areas of your life.
Your professional life can feel very distinct from your life outside the office. Some people even find that their professional lives overwhelm their personal lives. However, understanding that many of the skills you use in your job can be applied to everyday life’s challenges will positively influence your day-to-day well-being. Implement these five core sales skills in particular to become more successful in all the things you do.
Originally published Jul 1, 2015 7:30:00 AM, updated February 01 2017