To be a successful Sales Associate you have to love communications, presenting and demonstrating products and understanding customer needs.
To do your job, duties, and responsibilities in the best way, you need to possess and constantly develop a set of Sales Associate skills and competencies. Not to mention that they are vital for your resume or CV.
No matter if you’re selling products or services, as a sales associate you’re one of the most important team members in the company.
On this page:
- What is a Sales Associate?
- Responsibilities and Duties.
- Sales Associate Skills List And How To Develop Them.
- Infographic in PDF
What is a Sales Associate? What Does He Do?
Also known as salespersons, sales associates sell products and services, such as clothes, cars, furniture and etc.
Their main work includes communicating with customers to find what they need and ensure an effortless sales process.
As a sales associate, you are the first person customers interact with!
You must work closely with customers to determine their needs, answer properly their questions about the company’s products and offer the right solution!
You should ensure maximum client satisfaction and resolve effectively customer complaints.
To be successful as a sales associate, you should have an outgoing personality, friendly attitude and to be very familiar with all of the product features and benefits.
Of course, to be able to do that you need nothing but a good number of sales associate skills. However, let’s first see what are the main responsibilities and duties.
Sales Associate Key Responsibilities and Duties
Depending on your particular job position and business area, your responsibilities can vary. Still, there is a list of core responsibilities every salesperson should be familiar with:
- Welcoming customers and answering their questions.
- Gather and assess customers needs and provide great assistance and information on product features and benefits.
- Provide excellent sales service and ensure high levels of customer satisfaction.
- Maintains product presentations.
- Managing financial transactions and inputting invoices.
- Achieving established department goals.
- Actively seek out customers in the store.
- Introducing and presenting promotions, sales and other opportunities to customers.
- Cross-selling products to increase sales.
- Team up with co-workers to ensure proper customer service
- Updates managers by forwarding daily action summaries.
Sales Associate Skills List and Ways to Develop Them.
Now, to achieve a real success on your job, here is a list of skills and qualities you need to maintain and develop:
- Communication Skills
It is all about communications! Without these skills, a person couldn’t be a sales associate at all! They are the start! The core! The key!
Nowadays, communication skills are a must for a huge number of professions and job positions! Everyone talks about how important are they and how much you need them.
However, when you think about sales, the first thing that has to come to your mind is communications.
How to be better in communications? How to use them to satisfy better the needs of your customers? How to develop and evolve them?
You want to be a Succesful sales associate, right? So, you must ask yourself these questions.
Let’s define communication skills.
The ability to convey information to other people in an effective way.
Effective communication abilities require being able to express your ideas and views clearly and confidently.
This definition might sound very simple! However, many time we say one thing but the other people hear something else…. and misunderstandings,…. and upset, and conflicts…and etc..
As a sales associate, you must know that communication is far beyond exchanging information. It’s about understanding other person feelings, emotions and intentions.
More than just the words and phrases, effective communication combines a set of skills:
- Active and engaged listening skills
- Nonverbal communication – body language
- Verbal written communication abilities
- Managing stress at the moment
- The ability to deal with difficult people
- Be clear and concise
- Be positive and patient
If you want a career in the sales area, you should be perfect with the above sales associate skills.
Developing these skills are a long process and include experience, willingness to learn and love to communications.
How to Develop Effective Communication Skills For More Sales?
Ways and Tips:
- Learn To Be An Excellent Listener – In sales, many times listening well is actually more important ability than speaking well. Learn to be an exceptional listener! Ask questions and clarification questions when necessary. The purpose is to gather all of the information you need to offer the right product to your customers. Let them to talk and to explain to you what they need. Practice listening, learn to control your need to speak, care truly about what the customer is saying.
- Try to Use Your Clients Words – These words have very powerful meaning to your customers. If you use their words you demonstrate that you understand their problems and needs. Use their language to present company products and services. They will understand the product benefits much better.
- Focus on Solutions – Customers are in the shops because they need solutions. And your ultimate goal is to find and offer them the best solution! Your communication has to be centered around the most important customer focus: problem and the solutions. Find out what’s the need, the problem, the situation or the desire of your client. Your message should provide understanding, expert advice, and recommendations.
- Pay Attention to Body Language – Body language is a whole science! While we can say anything we want, our body language very often shows our true intentions. Great sales associates know how to read customer’ body language and also make sure their own body language sending out the right signals.
- Master the Nuances of Your Voice Tone – Your voice tone – your voice volume, speed, deeply affects how the sentences you’re saying are interpreted. And if you want to be an effective sales associate, you have to make a great impression is your voice.
- Learn to Be Empathetic – you should always try to see things from your customer’s point of view.
- Be Always Honest – The honest is about the trust! This is a must for every sales associate. If you even try to lie your customer, you are about to lose the most important thing that customers need – the trust! So always tell the truth in questions you can answer and in the questions you can’t.
- Wellcome and Depart Properly – always be warm, positive, sincere and smile. We people tend to remember the first impression and in addition to that the last thing. So make a good impression at both of these moments.
- Excellent Product Knowledge
Product knowledge is an essential sales associate ability. Knowledge is always a power and for salespeople, product knowledge mean more sales.
As a sales associate, you can assist and help customers in making the best choices if you have an excellent knowledge of the products and services you are selling.
Furthermore, you have to stay up to date on the latest trends in the business industry you work for.
Product knowledge is your competency! The more product knowledge you have, the better equipped you are to take care of the needs of your customers.
Customers are more likely to trust salespeople who demonstrating expertise and deep knowledge.
Strong knowledge is a must skill for salespeople by default. Unfortunately, many sales associates fail to do this well.
If you want to sell successfully, you should consider some questions such as:
- What is the main purpose of your product/service?
- How can you describe it in details? What is the size, shape, color, smell, function, main and additional features?
- What are the key value for the customer and the core need that the product satisfies?
- What are advantages in comparison with the competitor’s benefits?
- How much does it cost?
- What are all possible ways for the customer to assess the product – online and offline delivery ways?
- How to use the product?
- Availability of the product and etc.
Allways aim to maintain and develop your knowledge of the products.
How to increase your knowledge of your products or services?
- Use your own experiences when you using the products and services.
- Make sure you are familiar with product literature such as brochures and catalogs.
- Read additional information and sources such as trade and industry publications, marketing literature and etc.
- Be open to all feedbacks and testimonials from customers.
- Learn from your co-workers and team members that know more about the products than you.
- If it possible, visits to manufacturers.
- Learn carefully and be active on the sales training programs that your company provides.
- Customer Service Skills
As a sales associate, you should master these skills!
How do you treat your customers?
The answer makes the difference between a loyal customer and a disappointed/unhappy customer.
An unhappy customer is a lost opportunity! Moreover, he can become a very negative effect by telling others about his experience.
It is very likely for a dissatisfied customer to go to your competitor and never to come back to you!
You should not allow this bad scenario to happen! You must have excellent customer service skills!
These skills make a difference between an average sales associate and one who makes customers feel really happy about the help they got.
So as it is obvious, how much you need perfect and excellent customer services skills let’s define them.
Excellent customer service skills are that abilities that allow you to treat customers with a positive and friendly attitude and the ability to resolve their problems in an efficient way.
Quality customer service has a huge impact on the whole organization.
To be able to service your customer in the best possible way, you need a long list of sales associate skills, of course. Here we will see some of the most important.
Key customer service skills are:
- Active Listening
- Ability to Identify and Anticipate needs
- Performance and Presentation Skills
- Understanding of Human Psychology
- Attention to Detail
- Persuasive Speaking
- Be Confident
- Self-control and Patience
- Dealing With Difficult People
- Positive Attitude
- Leadership Skills
- Self-motivation and Management of Personal Emotions
- Good Interpersonal Skills
- Ability to Memorize and Apply Protocol and Guidelines
Like any other skill, if you don’t aim to constantly improve and develop customer service skills, they will get less effective.
No matter how great your product is, one of the things that customers are most tend to remember is the direct interaction with the sales associate, with you.
If you do not constantly search for opportunities to improve your abilities, then your relationships with customers will stagnate.
So, let’s work and find out how to improve your sales associate skills in customer service.
How to Develop Your Effective Customer Service Skills?
Ways and Tips:
- Practice active listening so your customers feel heard and understood. Learn to Clarifying, paraphrasing, reflecting feelings, summarizing, ask the right questions. “I can see why you feel …..” is a good expression that shows you are an active listener.
- Smile – it sounds very simple. And it is! It is a human nature, when you smile at somebody he’ll smile back at you. And please, let your smile be sincere! Do not use false smiles since they are very easy to catch. Your true smile will make the customer feel at ease and pleasance.
- Seek for and track of customer feedbacks on their customer service experience. It is about to offer ways for your customers to share how they feel about the service experience. And it is very valuable information for you! You can use surveys, feedback forms, comment sheets, or other ways according to your company’s policy and guidelines.
- Make the customer feel welcome. There are so many greetings that can make your customer feel welcome. Make sure you provide a positive and warm start to your customer. Here are some well-known examples: “Welcome”, “How can I help”, “What can I help you with today?”, Good morning/afternoon/evening!”, “Great question, I’ll find that out for you!”.
- Be available. Do your best to make sure your customers can reach you.
- Try relating to your customer. If your customer is a mother and you are as well, talk about common interests when you don’t have to talk about the reason they are on the shop. For example, if you waiting on a document organizing to finish that may take a few minutes. To fill that gap, you might talk to the customers about cooking sweets for children that you think they might be interested in. Try speaking in same the way your customer does. Make friendly environment.
- Train your presentation skills. Not only in front of the mirror. They are many other ways to do that: try to present products for your friend or colleague, try recording your presentation.
- Learn to be clear on the message and purpose.
- Research your customers – Who are the people who want to buy your company’s products? Teenagers, students, businessmen? What motivates them? What values do they most care about?
- Share experience and thoughts with your customer service team – Sometimes feedback from customers can be difficult to obtain but feedback from co-workers is a hidden and effective way to see what you can do to improve your abilities. Always welcome and be open to your colleagues’ feedback.
- Believe in your product and price. If you don’t believe in what you sell and how it can help customers, it means you have no confidence. Believing in how you will be helping the customer is a must for you! If you don’t believe that your products can successfully satisfy needs, then you cannot expect customers to believe it either.
- Believe in yourself – to be able to offer the best product to your customers that will solve their problem, you need to believe in yourself. You can believe that you have the ability to help the customer. Your belief in yourself makes a crucial difference in the way you offer products and solutions.
- Always be helpful, courteous and polite.
- Business Acumen
Do you know how your company makes money? If so, could you explain the core role of each department? Do you understand the industry you work for? Do you know what makes your company profitable?
I hope the answer of these questions is YES! If it is NOT, you can be much more successful sales associate as developing your business acumen skills and competency!
In our previous post Business Acumen Skills & Competency: The Guide to Improving Them, we in details explain what the business sense mean and how to develop it.
Here we will list some important moments.
Business acumen (also known as a business savvy and business sense) is an ability that allows you to understand and cope with different business situations.
To summarize it in one sentence, we can say that the person with strong business acumen skills see the big picture and understand how the business works!
And how the business works means to know how the business makes money!
As a sales associate, you need a deep and true understanding of what it takes for a business to make money and how your work changes the financials of the company. It is the key to being successful!
Companies today, more than ever in these challenging economic ages, need sales associates who can add value and provide financial success of their business.
Nowadays no one thinks that business savvy is only for managers, leaders, and CEO of the company. It counts for every employee!
Why Are Business Acumen Skills Very Important For You As a Sales Associate?
- You can be much more productive and to raise your sales.
- Real business success happens when you make smart decisions and try to see the big picture without losing view of the details.
- You will understand better your role in providing success to the company.
- Promote your individual growth.
- You will have a quicker mind that can assimilate and analyze information from a lot of different sources.
- You have very good chances to be promoted.
When sales associates have business acumen skills, they are knowledgeable and motivated employees.
Which Are The Key Business Acumen Skills?
- Financial Acumen
- Market Orientation
- Strategic Thinking
- Leadership skills
- Analytical and Logical Thinking
More than anything, business acumen needs to be constantly maintained and developed.
How To Develop Your Business Acumen Skills?
Ways and Tips:
- Read Business Books, Magazines, Websites, Blogs…. – The well-known evergreen for learning – reading…. And you have to read business topics. Nowadays, it is full of information everywhere and anytime. So, you have no excuses. Examples of resources you definitely want to read on a regular basis: Business Insider and Entrepreneur. When searching the websites and books, focus on the industry you are working. Book topics ideas: Business practices, Marketing, Leadership, Financial Skills, Entrepreneurship, Career development.
- Participating on Different Company Committees, Projects, and Events – Many organizations have projects and events such as quality or process improvement, charity campaigns and etc? These events can really change your thoughts and your understanding of about how the company operates and makes money.
- Professional or Industry Associations – Industry associations provide a range of opportunities that can lead to developing business acumen skills, building relationships and success.
- Education courses – Nowadays, the business acumen courses have expanded far beyond classroom-based learning into digital learning, measurement, and evaluation approaches.
- Learn From Your Colleagues
- Find Experts in a Business Area – You have friends, family members, neighbors, community members. Some of them might be experts in a business area. If you ask them, these people will be happy to share their knowledge of their business with you.
Developing strong business acumen skills takes time, efforts and the learning never stops.
However, it worths! These abilities are a great power! In today’s complex and unpredictable business world, organizations can succeed or fail, and people’s careers can develop or stick, based on the level of business acumen and sense within their company.
- Time Management And Organizational Skills
People constantly seek for doing more in less time.
We always want to have more task done in a day, to handle more appointments and of course to increase sales.
As a salesperson, you definitely want to work smarter and to spend more time focusing on the most important – selling – by reducing less important tasks.
Because for sales associates time is money!
They are paid to produce results, to make money! So, as a sales associate, you must manage your time properly and make the most of it.
One of the most difficult questions in the business is “How to successfully manage the limited time we have?”.
There are a few simple and proven time management skills and techniques that you can implement in your daily routine to significantly benefit your productivity.
Time management skills and tips:
- Set goals – to set a goal means to have an aim and to follow it. Without knowing what to do, you will not be able to organize your time. What is your job description? When you remind yourself what your purpose as a sales associate is, it is easier to set your goals. Every action you take and every task you are responsible for contributes to your job purpose.
- Prioritize your goals – this is mean to define our most important aims and to try achieving them first.
- Create a schedule – build an organizer and schedule your tasks according to your most important sales goals and priorities. The schedule should contain all the things you have to do. You can create a schedule for a day, a week, a month.
- List the things to do – you can create that list for your everyday tasks and/or for your monthly activities. Lists are so helpful. You can’t remember everything you should do during the day. If you do not want to forget something, then make a list. It is a simple but very useful time management technique.
- Use optimization tools – we live in a huge high-tech era. It makes our lives so easier. The smartphones are an integral part of our everyday life. You can use them not only for fun but for work and business. There are so many business tools that are helpful for organizing your time. Just pick up those that you like the most and use them effectively in your sales associate activities.
- Staying clear of negative thoughts. As a sales associate, your must have skill is to stay positive even if the customer has a negative attitude. If you have negative thoughts, they can reduce your energy, decrease productivity, and eat up a lot of time. It’s absolutely necessary for a sales people to amuse only positive thoughts.
- Use your wait times creatively. As a sales associate, you probably have a lot of time in your shop in waiting for the next customer to come in. Why not take this time to think ideas how to increase your sales, how to develop your sales associate skills, which books to read and etc.
- If it possible delegate tasks to others to save time.
- Set a time for the paperwork and try to keep this time every day. Doing administrative tasks sometimes seem like a time suck. However, if you left them for the last minute, it can be really annoying and consume even more time. Schedule a time for your daily administrative work.
- Balance work and leisure – last but not least. Learn to balance work and leisure. To manage your time effectively and to increase your sales performance do not mean to work nonstop. The rest and breaks are so important not only for your health, but they will help you to be more productive and creative.
All of these simple tips, when used together can increase your sales performance, save your time, and decrease unnecessary stress.
- Problem-Solving Skills
Everybody can benefit from possessing effective problem-solving skills. However for you as a sales associate, they are crucial.
Because your job is to find out and solve your customer’s problems and to offer them the best solution.
Sales fail and businesses fail because of poor problem-solving skills.
There is something that is very helpful for any sales associate: a path to follow to provide the right solutions to customers.
Effective problem solving usually requires going through a number of steps:
- Identifying the problem and the need, that bring your customer to the shop. Maybe the customer wants last trend dress or shoes for running. You have to find out why the customer is in the shop, what they need. Sometimes customers are not able to clearly explain what they want. To find out these needs ask questions and offer help.
- Looking for possible solutions. During this step, you will generate a range of possible products. You already know what the customer needs. Go through your product knowledge and think which of the products and/or services can be solutions.
- Find a solution/product. Now we have some possible options to offer. Choose some of them that you think they best can satisfy the customer needs.
- Offer the products you selected with a willingness to help. With the help of your voice tone and chosen words, show them that you’re not only there to help, but you actually want to help them to resolve their need! Your polite and helpful attitude can turn your customer experience into an amazing one.
Every sales associate need to have problem-solving skills because their job is about to solve problems.