The 14 Sales Skills You Need to Master

Peady’s Selling Engagement

Let’s start with an observation: In my opinion, most salespeople are overtrainedon their products and undertrained on sales skills! This results in them driving a sales discussion from a product perspective or asking a few ‘soft’ discovery questions and then defaulting to a product sell.  

Very few salespeople use a variety of ‘learnable’ sales skills to dig deep and uncover genuine customer opportunities or needs. Even fewer understand the sales process and how the associated metrics can make them so much more effective. 

Welcome to this week’s post on sales and selling success.

What’s the difference?

Product Training focuses on the ‘nuts and bolts’, thefeatures and benefits of what you sell- what the product solution is, what problem it’s intended to solve, how it actually works. Most product training is delivered in a classroom environment where the facilitator is doing most of the talking and answering questions along the way. 

Sales training is less about the product and more about how to help the prospective customer.It’s creating value, how to ask discovery questions and how to link needs to solutions. Effective sales skill training is supported by in-field and/or side by side coaching and feedback sessions.

The 14 top sales skills

Great salespeople really care about results, but the way they achieve them is by being relentless in developing their sales skills. Often the best sales teams are led by someone who is more like a sales coach than a sales manager!
Here’s my list of essential sales skills that you’ll need to master. They are all ‘learnable’:

  1. Time management and planning
  2. Tracking personal sales metrics
  3. Strategic prospecting 
  4. Qualification questioning 
  5. Telling relatable stories
  6. Building rapport and relationships
  7. Active listening
  8. Making ‘sticky’ appointments
  9. Objection handling (and prevention)
  10. Conducting discovery meetings
  11. Understanding needs, opportunities, challenges
  12. Creating and presenting solutions
  13. Negotiating, gaining commitment and closing
  14. Sales pipeline and portfolio management

That’s the ‘hard’ sales skills required. Then there is the list of important ‘soft’ skills too – such as confidence, empathy, problem solving etc. I’ll save that list for another time. 


There are many ways to learn new skills or improve those you already have. You can check your company’s knowledge base or inquire about upcoming training programs. You can also take an online course, watch relevant YouTube videos or read books on the subject. There might even be a manager willing to coach you into shape. 

Any way you choose it, the bottom line is this: in sales you never stop learning!  

Until next week good selling.  

About the author 

Stephen Pead is a media industry veteran of 30 years with significant experience in direct sales, sales management and general management. He is based in Sydney and specialises in helping SME’s market their businesses more effectively and providing training for salespeople and sales managers.

He can be contacted at [email protected]