What is Sales Competency?

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  • Written By: Lily Ruha
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2019
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Sales competency reflects an individual’s ability to be a successful salesperson. Communication skills, knowledge level, negotiation ability, and solid interpersonal skills are some of the core competencies necessary for success in the sales field. In a leadership role, such as in the management of a sales team, sales competency involves the ability to teach and coach other salespeople to apply well-tested sales strategies. Sales competencies are usually developed through a combination of academic study, on-the-job training, and/or hands-on experience in the sales field.

One of the most important aspects of sales competency is the ability to communicate well with others. A good salesperson can convey his thoughts clearly and concisely. He must also be a good listener to understand the needs of his clients. In person, over the phone, or written communication skills are all important. Communication competency in the sales arena also often includes public speaking.

Another critical aspect of sales competency is extensive knowledge of the product or service being sold in order to communicate its value to the client. He must also have a sufficient understanding of the needs of his client to effectively present his product or service as a solution to a particular problem. Competency in the sales field also involves envisioning how the product or service may potentially facilitate progress and growth for the client’s business.


Highly developed interpersonal skills are also an important aspect of sales competency. When a competent salesperson possesses solid interpersonal skills, he is able to build a trusting relationship with potential buyers, increasing sales potential. Fostering a harmonious relationship with clients often requires emotional intelligence, which involves knowing how to put clients at ease and, in some cases, how to take no for an answer. In a situation where a client calls with an illegitimate complaint, for example, a competent salesperson must foster the relationship through an effort to understand the client’s point of view, without arguing or creating further conflict.

Sales competency for a national sales manager, for example, might also include the ability to teach his team members how to improve their sales performance using specific sales and negotiation strategies. In this capacity, competency involves guiding and coaching other salespeople through the challenges of closing deals. A competent sales manager is skilled in implementing team incentives and training programs to build a winning sales team.

These skills may be developed through a combination of sales training, practice, and formal academic training. Degrees in business and marketing generally include courses that outline effective sales strategies. On-the-job training may also increase sales competency. Although some individuals are natural salespeople, competency is generally strengthened through extensive trial and error experiences in a sales job.


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