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Why Sales Success Is 80% Soft Skills And Only 20% Product

By: Shabri Lakhani

Many companies focus too much on their salesperson’s relationship with the product when conducting sales training. They make sure that no stone is left unturned when it comes to product knowledge, thinking technical skills are the key to sales success. Although a salesperson’s knowledge of their product does a play a role in their success,  soft skills are actually the main drivers behind a closed-won deal.

In this blog, we provide reasons why companies should focus on teaching reps soft skills instead of focusing solely on product technicalities as part of the selling process since this is integral to sales success.


Customers Only Care About How Your Product Solves Their Problem

Soft skills are developed over the course of a sales career and are constantly being redefined and enforced by things such as customer interactions, company sales environments, and continued training. Therefore, soft skills are so difficult to teach and often overlooked by companies looking to train their employees. 

Hard skills such as product knowledge are useless without soft skills. Soft skills are necessary to achieve sales success because a sales team’s primary goal needs to be to form relationships with clients, then have product discussions down the line when the client is ready.

 Successful sales teams have soft-skill-focused training to help them extract pain points and create a powerful narrative to occupy the minds of the potential clients they are interacting with. However, this is not easy for companies, as it takes time and a constant drive for professional development to utilize these skills to achieve sales success, but it is worth the investment for a cohesive, successful sales team.


Complex Customer Situations

Excellent sales teams are experts in customer interaction. Whether they have experience with the customer situation or not, their soft skills in communication and understanding the customer allow them to pivot to the specific customer situation, which takes skill to loop around back into the product discussion. 

Soft skills lead to customer relationships, and whether the customer buys the product/service or not, they will remember the relationships they formed with your sales  team.


People Buy From People

When sales teams are product and technical skill-focused, there is a tunnel vision effect taking place. The only way they form relationships and offer solutions to the customer is through the product. If a prospective client is facing a problem that technical training has not prepared a customer for, they are left to fall back on their soft skills.  

That is why it is critical for sales teams to be soft-skilled oriented and to bring in product or technical expertise after they have worked past the customer's original problem or sales wall, instead of the other way around, where even experienced sales teams might struggle when leading with product skills. 

To pose a hypothetical, what salesperson would you rather employ? Someone with extensive industry selling experience and emotional intelligence who knows nothing about the product, or someone in a different department looking to transfer over to sales who has no selling experience but is extremely versed in the product. Some companies might choose the latter, which would result in sub-par sales success. 

Soft skills require time to evolve, whether firms like it or not, and firms who choose to ignore the need for soft skills to dominate the potential client process will pay the price. Sales success is driven by the relationships you establish with clients, independent of whether they buy from you or not, and these relationships are built through soft skills.




SalesWorks specializes in developing comprehensive sales training programs for firms like yours to ensure you get the most out of your sales talent. Request a consultation today to learn more about SalesWorks’ unique approach to sales training.


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