Magazine article Training & Development

"People Skills" Still a Sales Basic

Magazine article Training & Development

"People Skills" Still a Sales Basic

Article excerpt

Salespeople with a knack for building strong interpersonal relationships with clients are likely to outperform less socially adept peers.

This notion sounds easy to grasp, but it is often overlooked by companies seeking a competitive edge, says Michael Leimbach, the director of research for Wilson Learning in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

In recent years, many businesses have pushed salespeople to hone their skills as strategists and consultants, he explains. Firms expect their salespeople to identify and analyze marketing opportunities and to help clients select and use the firm's products and services to their best advantage.

But a salesperson won't succeed as either a consultant or a strategist if he or she can't first establish a relationship with a client. And that relationship must be characterized by trust and a willingness to share information, says Leimbach. That's where people skills come into play.

People skills are still a core competency for effective salespeople, says Leimbach. "A salesperson who is able to establish effective interpersonal relationships with customers will be able to implement complex strategies and achieve sales success."

Everyone has a particular style of communication, explains Leimbach. Analytical communicators, for instance, like to amass facts and thoughtfully weigh options. Expressive communicators focus on insights, ideas, and emotional undertones.

According to Leimbach, truly effective communicators display a common trait: "interpersonal versatility," or the ability to modify one's preferred communication style in order to put others at ease. …

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