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Career Development Tips

Sales Skills: Definition and Examples

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated June 29, 2021

Guide Overview

What are sales skills?Examples of sales skillsHow to improve sales skillsSales skills in the workplaceHow to highlight sales skills

Guide Overview

The importance of effective sales skills

Effective sales professionals possess a particular mindset that's equally competitive and helpful. Certain skills enable salespeople to identify opportunities, relate to customers, persuade consumers to act, and close a sale. Whether you're joining the workforce or transitioning to a sales career, it's important to understand the qualities needed to improve your sales skills. Learn what sales skills are, review examples of key sales skills with tips on improving them, and ways to include them on your cover letter and resume while searching for a sales job.

Learn more: Highest Paying Sales Jobs

What are sales skills?

Sales skills are the characteristics and competencies sales representatives depend on to support customers in making purchases and resolving issues. Effective sales people acknowledge that creating a successful buyer experience uses many interpersonal skills, is more than a consumer’s satisfaction with their purchase, and deals with overall brand engagement. Customers seek quality interaction and a fulfilling buying experience. Skilled sales people provide this service using a combination of techniques and knowledge to identify customer needs and connect with them individually. A positive buying experience influences brand loyalty with customers, improves the likelihood that existing customers will refer new ones, and helps meet sales goals.

Examples of sales skills

An awareness of fundamental sales skills prepares you for success in connecting with customers and helping them make a quality purchase that meets their needs. Review the following core skills and traits to understand the skills needed for sales.

Active listening

A key sales skill needed for success in the competitive sales industry is active listening. The strongest communicators are strong listeners. Demonstrate strong listening skills for your clients by maintaining eye contact, having an open body posture, smiling and nodding when appropriate, and asking questions for understanding.


An important sales skill and leadership quality is initiative. Taking action and showing originality and resourcefulness when helping clients establishes you are capable and gives you credibility with clients, coworkers, and supervisors.


Understanding the feelings and perspectives of others helps sales representatives focus on client needs. Showing empathy by validating the feelings and ideas of others builds trust.

Verbal communication skills

Speaking clearly, concisely, and with purpose delivers a message of confidence to your clients and can help build a trusting relationship. A healthy rapport with customers can improve your sales outcome and provide you with a competitive edge in an industry that often compensates employees with commissions or bonus payments based on sales performances.


An optimistic approach to sales fosters a positive work environment and builds strong, respectful relationships with clients and colleagues. Smile invitingly to be approachable and have genuine interactions with others by showing gratitude for their time. It is professional and a minor consideration that develops respect and helps customers have confidence in your expertise and knowledge.

Time management

Arrive to work on time daily, meet deadlines consistently, and prioritize tasks to show a strong work ethic and your level of professionalism.

Critical thinking

Problem-solving skills are an essential component of success in most professions. Critical thinking as a sales skill helps when working with clients to resolve issues and manage conflict. Skilled sales professionals can zero in on the core objections clients may have to closing a sale, find creative ways to navigate through the obstacles, and guide clients toward a reasonable solution.


The power of persuasion is a strong sales skill when working with clients, coworkers, and for finding intrinsic motivation. Sales professionals know what to say to influence customer purchases and cross-sell to improve sales. You show your value as a colleague by supporting others in their efforts and focusing on the value of teamwork.


Adjusting to change at work is a sales skill that proves a growth mindset which is valuable in today’s job market. Customers’ needs and likes are always changing, and the ability to adjust your approach to sales or create suggestions to make a bigger sale is important for success.


Clients are more likely to heed your advice and input if you take the time to develop trust and credibility. Authenticity is the ability to stay true to your own established morals, values, and standards. Authentic salespeople show integrity and confidence.

How to improve sales skills

To meet or exceed your sales quota, or differentiate yourself from competitors, use these tips to improve your sales skills.

  • Practice mirroring. Use the same phrases and language your clients use when discussing options and practice non-verbal communication skills by mirroring their body language to show your ideas and intentions align with theirs.
  • Listen with intent. Focus on what others say to grasp the full message. Take mental notes as they speak, or write talking points, so you can respond thoughtfully when it is your turn to talk. You can begin by paraphrasing their key points to establish that you were listening. This also helps them to clarify ideas or miscommunications.
  • Learn all you can. Do background research on clients, especially when cold-calling. Look up any available performance data, analyze the information, and briefly reference your findings to establish your expertise and interest.
  • Find room for improvement. Set goals for yourself to improve, even when you are performing well. Focused short-term goals will help you move toward your long-term objectives and can impress clients and supervisors.
  • Ask for feedback. Ask for input from coworkers and managers. It shows you value their ideas and makes them feel validated. Your acceptance of constructive criticism is professional and can give you insight you may miss when self-evaluating. When asking for feedback from a supervisor, you open up communication and can position yourself for a leadership role in the future.

Sales skills in the workplace

Strong sales representatives have charismatic personalities and can communicate dynamically and successfully with many people. Use these tips at work to show your skills.

  • Accept new experiences. Be open to new challenges and welcome them as learning opportunities and chances for growth.
  • Focus on teamwork. Motivate others and congratulate them when they succeed. This develops rapport and shows the value of teamwork.
  • Take responsibility. Particularly if you seek upward mobility, volunteer at work for extra tasks to gain experience. Take credit for your success, but also acknowledge failures and use them as learning tools for improvement.
  • Challenge yourself. Always improve and strive to do better than before to show strong work ethic and your value as an employee.
  • Network. Work with others around you and genuinely take interest in them to build a powerful network of support at work. When different departments and individuals work in unison toward the same goal, the chances of success improve.


How to highlight sales skills

When searching for a new position or transitioning to a sales career, focus on the skill set that establishes you as a qualified candidate for the sales job you want. Here are ways you can highlight your sales skills when applying and interviewing for a position in sales.

Highlight sales skills on the cover letter

The cover letter that accompanies your resume and job application is typically the first impression a hiring manager has of the type of sales professional you are. Use it as an opportunity to highlight a couple of your key attributes that align with the duties and responsibilities on the job description for the position you are applying. Provide central details about your accomplishments in sales (or other related examples) by using numerical data and providing statistical evidence of the progress your efforts made.

Learn more: Sales Cover Letter Template

Highlight sales skills on the resume

Your resume serves as a comprehensive picture of your skills, attributes, and work experience. Establish your strong writing skills with well-organized information on this document. Include material about your work history and abilities in sales concisely with bullet points and clear headlines.

Highlight sales skills on the job interview

During the job interview, demonstrate your sales abilities by using effective verbal communication skills when answering questions directly, clearly, and with relevant details. Interact with the hiring manager to show your dedication to the industry by relaying your unique career story with passion and enthusiasm.

Learn more: Sales Techniques For Your Next Job Interview


The sales skills you’ll need to succeed will be specific to your own situation and how you wield your skills. You can practice many of the sales skills needed and improve them through on-the-job training, volunteer opportunities, or continuing education courses and other professional training. Your dedication to consistent improvement can help position you for the sales job of your dreams. Discover companies hiring by location, job title, and industry.

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