The 6 Key Skills Of The Modern Salesperson

Sales has changed. It’s no longer simply a world of sharp suits and a few well rehearsed usp’s. Some glossy literature to accompany the ubiquitous powerpoint presentation.

The modern successful salesperson is a new breed and is using the digital age to leverage their position through innovation and collaboration.

We’ve looked at 6 of the key skills that we believe this new breed possess.

It all starts with knowing what you’re talking about. Prospects today are sometimes better informed than salespeople themselves. Sales conversations start much later in the information gathering process than they used to – by the time customers first talk to a salesperson, they are already overwhelmed with information. Instead of a SHOW UP AND THROW UP, they need an intelligent advisor who helps them filter the clutter of information they’re faced with. 

Be Inquisitive:
You need to know the market and your prospects’ challenges as well as you know your own product. You’ll only ever be truly good at it if you have a genuine interest in developing this knowledge. Modern sales skills demand spending more time researching prospects and learning about the market than other traditional sales techniques. 

Emotional Intelligence:
It’s “the age of social” – that doesn’t just refer to social networks, but also to a social skillset. If the salesperson of the past was a talker, the modern one is a listener, who is sensitive to customers’ needs and preferences. Good modern salespeople spend a good deal of time researching prospects on social networks – to learn about their professional role and issues as well as their personal interests. It helps get to know your prospect as an individual, and establish a personal, meaningful connection. The pushy salesperson’s attentiveness is, at best, cosmetic. A great salesperson’s interest is sincere. And customers appreciate that effort, even if you get it slightly wrong.

Confidence: Led by facts!
Salespeople have always had to be confident – but there’s a big difference between confidence fueled by ego and confidence backed by facts and research. Today’s informed buyers don’t want to be sold to – if they sense empty rhetoric, they’ll put up their defences. Solid facts and personal relevance will earn their respect.

The best way to learn what moves prospects is by talking to the people who know – other salespeople. Where “the lone wolves” of the past had their own secret pitch, the most successful salespeople today are great collaborators: they share best practices and give advice to each other – and they understand that offering their own unique insight will get them something equally valuable in return. Think about your colleagues in marketing/finance/operations!

A knack for narrative:
Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools we have for engaging with people. Experienced salespeople are an incredibly rich source of real-life anecdotes that can demonstrate use cases, issues and possible complications. No two sales conversations are the same – but the ability to draw upon experience and selectively present relevant stories is a highly creative skill that helps establish a real connection with prospects.

Few people will admit to like being sold to. But we all welcome an intelligent partner – a fully rounded personality that’s not just selling but connecting with us, empathising and helping us solve a problem.

Great salespeople have always instinctively known and practiced these things. But it’s the connectedness and information saturation of today’s world that make these ‘renaissance’ selling skills imperative today. 

The 6 Key Skills Of The Modern Salesperson


Mervyn continues to be great support to both myself and the business in achieving our growth ambitions. We have benefited hugely from his forward thinking, guidance and energy and look forward to continuing this in the future. I would have no hesitation in recommending Mervyn and Cameron Carnegie if you have plans to scale your business.

Ian Joy , Managing Director ERG Scotland Ltd

Once we decided to source training for our Business Development and Account Management teams, we turned to Cameron Carnegie for assistance. I was initially a little apprehensive about the training taking place digitally, but Merv delivered an excellent, engaging training course really ensuring that he took time to involve each member of our team, providing them with simple tools to use going forward. I was genuinely blown-away by the improvement across all of the team and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Cameron Carnegie if you are looking to improve the performance of your Sales Team.

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"We engaged Cameron Carnegie to undertake some bespoke training to upskill the team in the areas of Sales & Account Management. The solution was tailor-made to suit our business and we are all delighted with the results which have been easy to quantify and measure. We would definitely engage Cameron Carnegie on similar assignments and would have no hesitation on recommending them."

Scott McIlwraith , General Manager - Renewable Energy Kuiper

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