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The 5th Skill that Makes Good Sales People Great

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Selling is one of the most crucial business activities, even if it's too often underestimated.

Successful salespeople are exceptional. They have enormous talents that they have developed through a combination of training, experience, and tips-sharing. On the training front, numerous approaches are available to develop a wide range of selling skills. Some of the more modern training tools are computerized simulations that allow students and experienced salespeople to test and expand their skills in a risk-free and fast-paced environment.

Based on the research we have conducted to develop our new sales training simulation, REVMANEX, we have identified 5 key skills of high-performing salespeople. It’s important to note that the first 4 are paramount for successful sales professionals to contribute to the traditional revenue objectives of their firm. However, it’s the 5th skill that today’s corporations now expect their sales force to acquire and it’s what differentiates a good salesperson from a truly great one in the modern business world.

Read on to discover these 5 critical sales skills and how to develop them.


1) Preparation

Closing any sale begins by preparing. Top reps need do their research on their buyer’s industry, products, and pricing. This builds credibility with buyers. Before a meeting, they recap the situation and the learnings from past encounters. They also understand their buyers’ behaviors and have the strategic foresight to predict various outcomes before, during and after a negotiation.

2) Self-Awareness

Good sales reps have enough self-awareness to keep a positive and realistic perspective clear of emotions. They manage their own fear of failure and understand the implications of the sensible options available in any deal. They possess self-confidence without arrogance. They maintain a high level of respect with buyers. They have and develop an acute active listening ability to understand and interpret buyer cues.

3) Agility and Resilience

Top sales reps know their products well, master their company’s commercial guidelines, understand the client objectives, and adjust to the personalities of different buyers. They demonstrate great mental agility to adapt to different situations and during a given encounter. They display a certain level of fortitude to be able to face potentially conflictual situations and rejections from clients. They manage their stress by looking at the bigger picture and avoid getting stuck in a hopeless corner. They show resilience over many client encounters.

4) Negotiation

While becoming an effective negotiator is important in any business position, it is an ultimate lever to success in sales. Developing this key talent actually requires honing on all the skills mentioned before. Good salespeople know how to create trust, ask questions, and when to volunteer information. They are swift at conducting what has been called the negotiation “dance” of offering and requesting, of being both soft and firm. They know when to backtrack, when to conciliate, when to push, and when to walk away from an unacceptable deal.  

5) Value Creation

Good salespeople possess the above 4 skills which are at the heart of traditional top selling performance. However, in today’s economic environment, the key objective of corporations is not just revenue growth, but value creation. To align the salesforce with this key corporate objective, companies need to offer compensation policies coherent with value creation. But salespeople must also contribute to it effectively, and this requires financial awareness and business acumen. It is a new challenge for even good salespeople to appreciate how profitability, market share and customer satisfaction need to be balanced to achieve short, medium, and long-term value creation. This is the new training frontier for sales. It is not easy, but it is a great opportunity to transform good salespeople into great performers: Great salespeople who not only grow revenues, but who each feel personally responsible for part of the value created for the firm and should be even more respected for their new extended role.

Pushing the NEW frontier in sales training

The REVMANEX simulation was launched to push the frontier for sales training. It has been designed by Professor Jean-Claude Larreche from INSEAD to develop all these skills with an emphasis on the more challenging one: value creation, and in an integrated, fun, and effective way. What’s more, REVMANEX is designed from a solid foundation of world-class business simulations (MARKSTRAT, BOSS, BRANDPRO…) that are used by leading business schools and corporations. As a pioneer in using this cutting-edge learning method, Professor Dominique Rouziès from HEC Paris, is well placed to share her view on REVMANEX’s effectiveness in creating successful sales training programs.


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