by N. Purcell | June 26, 2023 | 5 Min Read

5 skills needed for sales representatives to be successful


While hard skills are helpful, sales soft skills are vital.

Of the many skills needed for sales representatives, interpersonal skills are at the top of the list. A recent study indicates that nearly 62% of employers have hired employees with higher soft skills than a better-qualified candidate – this further demonstrates the importance of soft skills for sales professionals.

But here’s the real question: how do you teach soft skills for salespeople? And once you know how to teach sales skills, how can you measure the effectiveness of those skills? In this guide to soft skills for sales, let’s look closer at sales soft skills and how to build them.

What are sales soft skills?

Soft skills for salespeople offer the ability to develop customer relationships, create valuable presentations, and negotiate effectively. While the type of sales—or one’s role in the sales process—may differ, soft skills for sales professionals will translate in any field. Naturally, the types of soft selling skills needed will vary depending on the salesperson's role.

Next, we list the top five soft skills in sales every rep needs.

5 key soft skills for salespeople

What are the skills needed for sales representatives to thrive in a competitive industry? When creating your training for soft skills for sales, here are five of the most important sales skills that all salespeople should develop:

1. Communication

At the top of the list of soft skills for sales is clear and competent communication. Beyond simply regurgitating product details, a skilled sales professional will know how to navigate conversations and tailor their message to the customer.

For example, if a sales representative is speaking with a warm lead who’s already familiar with the product, they should be able to distill complex features into easily-understood terms. If talking to a cold lead, they should be able to identify the customer’s pain points and communicate how the product or service effectively solves their problem, compelling the customer to keep listening.

2. Emotional intelligence

Customers are human beings, and humans often make decisions based on feelings. When teaching sales skills, remember to include emotional intelligence (EQ), as it empowers salespeople to understand and manage their own emotions while effectively navigating the emotions of others.

Sales professionals with high EQ can recognize and regulate their own emotions, allowing them to remain composed, even in high-pressure situations. By including emotional intelligence in sales skill development, salespeople can create a positive and empathetic sales experience, leading to stronger customer relationships and increased sales success.

3. Adaptability

The sales landscape is constantly evolving, with changing market trends, customer preferences, and industry dynamics. An adaptable salesperson can quickly adjust their approach, strategies, and techniques to align with these changes. They embrace new ideas, technologies, and sales methodologies, allowing them to stay ahead of the competition.

Adaptability enables salespeople to respond effectively to unexpected situations, tailor their pitches to different customer needs, and seize opportunities as they arise. By being flexible and open to change, adaptable salespeople can thrive in dynamic environments and consistently deliver results.

4. Resilience

Resilience is a crucial soft skill for salespeople due to the inherent challenges they encounter in their role. Sales professionals often face rejection, deal with setbacks, and encounter obstacles that can easily discourage them.

A resilient salesperson possesses the mental toughness and perseverance to stay motivated and bounce back from failures. As a sales soft skill, resilience enables salespeople to maintain a positive attitude, handle rejection constructively, and navigate through difficult situations with confidence, ultimately contributing to their long-term success in the sales profession.

5. Empathy

Similar to EQ, when teaching sales skills, don’t forget the soft skill of empathy. By putting themselves in the shoes of the customer, sales professionals can truly grasp their needs, motivations, and challenges. Empathy enables salespeople to listen actively, ask relevant questions, and provide personalized solutions that genuinely address customer pain points.

This essential skill helps build trust, rapport, and long-lasting relationships with customers, fostering loyalty and repeat business. Ultimately, empathy allows salespeople to build strong connections, drive customer satisfaction, and differentiate themselves in a competitive market.

Develop and deliver sales soft skills training with Unboxed Training & Technology

At this point, you know why soft skills are so crucial for sales success and which ones salespeople need. But what about how to teach sales skills?

Effective sales teams must combine the power of hard skills and soft skills. From product knowledge to problem-solving, soft skills for salespeople are essential to your company’s success. To ensure your sales reps have the right set of skills, partner with Unboxed Training & Technology.

At Unboxed, we develop customized training programs for your sales department and deliver content through our skill-building platform—Spoke®. Target the unique needs of sales reps through AI-driven personalized recommendations and give your managers tools to track progress, assign tasks, coach, and measure success.

Schedule a demo of our sales enablement training and Spoke® to see how we can help your sales team reach its full potential.

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