Top 5 skills for a career in sales

Rachel Swain, Editorial manager
October, 2023

With enticing starting salaries and huge commission-earning potential take a look at the skills you'll need to become a successful salesperson


Not all prospective customers will want to buy what you're selling and to deal with these rejections you'll need a high level of confidence, positivity and tenacity.

Having this unwavering faith in yourself and the product you're pitching, all in the face of resistance and rejection, is vital. You need to be able to transfer belief in yourself and your product to the customer if you're going to be successful. But never, ever confuse confidence with arrogance.


Reacting positively to these knock backs is essential. Each sale can be full of obstacles, so you must have the belief to overcome any challenges thrown your way.

You may have put a lot of time and effort into trying to land a deal, but it didn't work out. You have to be resilient and dust yourself off and believe that you will land the next one.

Communicating with conviction can help transmit your passion for sales in an interview. Researching the industry, the company and the role will allow you to emphasise how your strengths and experiences make you the ideal candidate.

Find out more about the UK's sales industry.

Active listening

Communication is fundamental in building trust and creating a rapport with customers. It's important that salespeople are confident and knowledgeable when advising customers, but the value of listening can easily be overlooked.

Customers know their own wants and needs, and so the salesperson needs to listen carefully in order to understand this. This listening needs to be free of personal assumptions, judgements and beliefs.

The best way to ensure complete coherence is to ask clarifying questions and summarise what you have been told. A major part of active listening is to treat others with the respect and attention you'd like to receive in a conversation, so they feel their requirements are understood, and will be adhered to.

You need to demonstrate this active listening right from the initial recruitment stage. There's a common misconception among graduates at assessment centres that it's all about talking, especially in group exercises. But it's often the applicants who listen well, summarise and lead the group to a decision that impress the most.

Learn how to approach assessment centres and interview tests and exercises that are often used to gauge the suitability of sales candidates.

Rapport building

Unleashing your personality is equally valuable when it comes to developing your customer service skills. Coming across as authentic and engaging will endear you to others and gain their trust.

Building a strong rapport with customers is important, as you've got to convince them that you're the best person to sell them a product. There's no better time to show these skills than in your job interview, as this is the ultimate sale. You're selling your talents but, even more importantly, you're selling your personality.

Entrepreneurial spirit

The top sales candidates possess genuine entrepreneurial drive and spirit. Something as simple as trading on eBay can go a surprisingly long way in showing you're able and agile enough to create your own breaks.

By being able to demonstrate that you can craft opportunities where they may not obviously exist and see these through to execution and delivery, you'll show that you have a natural talent for selling.

For those with these attributes, working for yourself and starting your own business may be something to consider either now or in the future. Explore self-employment and what it takes to become an entrepreneur.

Rising to challenges and possessing an appetite for self-improvement are also important. Be comfortable with critically reflecting on past experiences.

Find out more

How would you rate this page?

On a scale where 1 is dislike and 5 is like

success feedback

Thank you for rating the page