Selling products and services in a fast and cost-effective manner is often the fuel behind successful businesses. Unfortunately, the sales process can often involve shaky discussions that take time to resolve.

Sailing past the haggling point and closing the deal as fast as possible usually requires a specialized skill set. Here are some of the most important skills that sales personnel need.

Timing skills

In sales, timing can be crucial. Getting a firm handle on timing your offer can make the difference between success and failure.

If you make your offer too early in the process, it could come across as a concession. For example, offering to meet halfway too early in the discussion may be taken by the other side as a signal that your product’s price has plenty of wiggle room. If the buyer refuses your request, you show your hand and lose bargaining power.

On the other hand, if you wait too long, you risk looking like you aren’t interested in closing the deal, potentially stirring the buyer’s anger.

Sales classes often say that buyers are more open to making concessions as the deadline approaches. Working out the deal structure first and holding out on settlements until the final lap may work in your favor.

However, if you are under more pressure than the buyer, moving slowly may count against you. 

Flexibility

The sales process is often fluid. The same strategy that worked perfectly in one scenario may be a dismal failure in another. A key shared characteristic of successful salespeople is the ability to remain flexible.

Read the situation, adapt as you go, and be prepared to make some trade-offs. During talks, be sure to assess what the other side values the most. Once you figure out what matters the most to the buyer, you can offer something that holds less value for you but that the other side finds valuable.

For example, instead of merely giving a discount, seize the opportunity to get the other side to sign off on concrete future orders.

Patience

In sales, time is usually of the essence. However, zooming through the process may result in avoidable mistakes. Thinking critically and carefully before offering or accepting offers is often the way to go. 

If you show any sign of desperation, you may hand over power to the buyer. Methodically analyze the situation and allow the other side time to talk. By patiently listening before you frame a response, you may get a better feel for the reasoning behind the other side’s offers.

Practicing patience can help improve your analytical skills so you can determine what the buyer values most and reach the best possible outcome. So, taking a few classes to master the art of patience may help improve your sales skills.

Emotional intelligence

Imagine that in the middle of a discussion, a salesperson bursts out in a fist-pumping rage. In another scenario, a clearly withdrawn salesperson glances at their watch for the umpteenth time. What do these two scenarios have in common? Both situations indicate a low emotional quotient (EQ), also known as emotional intelligence.

Those who lack EQ are more likely to offend the buyer and impede sales talks. In contrast, salespeople who can master their emotions stand a higher chance of tying up contracts. Studies have shown that having strong EQ skills helps to stir the other side’s positive emotions, helping to close the deal faster.

Emotional intelligence is a skill not often learned in class. A high EQ usually comes through adapting to different human interactions and getting a handle on your emotions through life experience.

Adept research skills

Going into a discussion without all the knowledge you need can put you at a strong disadvantage. That’s why to be a skilled salesperson, you need solid research skills to prepare for the deal-making process.

It often pays to research all you can about the buyer’s interests and past agreements. Learn what the customer hopes to achieve to determine what would be most valuable for the buyer.

Adequate research can help you prepare alternatives and counteroffers. Also, knowing the buyer’s deal-making history can help you determine when to keep pushing or when to fold.

Your research can include the following:

  •         Determining the other side’s negotiation style.
  •         Investigating any common ground.
  •         Evaluating what’s valuable to the buyer that has less value to you.
  •         Estimating how much you can give away, e.g. their maximum discount.


Timing skills, flexibility, and patience are among the top skills to help salespeople turn around potentially protracted talks. Together with solid research skills and high emotional intelligence, sales personnel who master these skills, whether by taking classes or through time and practice, tend to rise through the ranks and stand out as being a cut above the rest.