Soft skills are arguably the most important skills to have in sales. While agents always need to know their policies, it’s their soft skills that set them apart from their competition.
It’s believed that certain soft skills are inherited, but that’s not necessarily the case. Introverts and extroverts can build the same soft skills, they just interact and utilize them differently. It’s not uncommon for an introvert to have better communication skills than an extrovert.
Soft skills are harder to measure than hard skills. Fortunately, there are many ways an agent can improve their soft skills.
Take an improv class
Improv classes make participants focus on the now and force them to rely on feelings and not calculated efforts.
Improv teaches people how to rely on their instincts, forget stress and nervousness, and help them to respond with confidence. A common misconception with improv is that it teaches people how to respond quickly, but it’s actually the contrary. Improv forces participants to actively listen and reciprocate what is being communicated. Participants will learn how to actively listen and help them formulate a more calculated thought when placed on the spot. Quick responses occur while listening, not when it’s your turn to speak.
Believe it or not, special things can happen when operating on instinct. It’s what our ancient ancestors did to survive and something we’ve sort of forgotten about through humanity’s evolution. Learning to harness your professional instincts will pull you from the overthinking tailspin and bring you into the present. Instead of overthinking when a client asks a curveball question, your new improv skills will take the driver’s seat and steer the conversation.
Attend your client’s/demographic’s networking events
Attending your target demographic’s networking event can help you better understand the industry and communicate with it. Note: this is not the same as attending the event to prospect, this is simply to understand. Your intentions should be to come out of the event with a better understanding of the demographic you work with the most.
Yes, you can introduce yourself to people and find out more about them, but do not actively prospect. Spend time in your client’s shoes by attending these networking events. You will better understand the industry lingo, trends, common conversation starters in the industry and identify what services they need. Great services will always turn customers into advocates.
Learn nonverbal communication
Active listening requires more than your ears, but your eyes as well. Understanding non-verbal communication will greatly improve your communication and help improve your bottom line. Non-verbal communication shows the meaning behind dialog, tells someone’s emotional state, defines relationships and comfort-levels, provides feedback and regulates the conversation.
Non-verbal communication is largely based on emotions and tells the real story of the conversation. Agents who can pick up on nonverbal cues can steer the conversation into a better direction, uncover problems or questions a client is afraid to ask and adjust accordingly.
Commit to improvement
It’s easy to SAY you want to build a skill, but you must execute. Plus, keeping a promise and completing it will improve confidence. The best way to complete your goal is to set a time to work toward it. For instance, Khan Academy requires users to set a time schedule when the user enrolls in a free, online course. Once this time schedule is set, Khan Academy allows users to opt-in to reminder emails based on this set schedule. This same idea can be applied to your phone. The alarm or calendar applications on your phone allow you to schedule alarms and events on specific days of the week. All you have left to do is stay consistent and track your progress.