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September 22 2019.
Difference is in the Soft skills.

Beyond the hard skills (Product & Technical knowledge), it is the soft skills that makes the difference to the business.

While the hard skills may get an initial entry into the customer's organisation, it is your people skill that will help to get sustainable business. As most of your competitors are becoming similar in Technology, Performance & in many instances Pricing, it is the soft skills of the front end (Direct sales & Channel partners) that will make the difference.

The work ethic, attitude, communication skills, emotional intelligence and a whole host of other personal attributes are the soft skills that are crucial for a sales person's success. Problem solving, delegating, motivating, and team building will be much easier if one has good soft skills. Knowing how to get along with people (especially with difficult colleagues & customers)– and displaying a positive attitude – are crucial for success.

With the right soft skills one can excel as a leader.

However, I have observed in many organisations, the importance of these soft skills is often undervalued. The focus is more on imparting technical/product knowledge. These organizations expect sales people to know; how to behave on the job & assume that everyone knows and understands the importance of being on time, taking initiative, being friendly, and getting good quality orders. In many unfortunate instances the sales person is expected to learn the hard way, 'on the field'.

Does your organisation has a 'Soft Skills Gap' ?

If you have one or more of the following conditions, you are facing the soft skills gap.

  • You're good at getting new customers, and not so good retaining them.
  • You have a high sales staff turnover and have to keep retraining people.
  • When you have lots of managers but no real leaders.
  • Your experienced sales people don't share knowledge with the new recruits.
  • You are in a situation where, the rich knowledge & experience is rarely documented & shared as a systemic process; resulting in a condition where employees learn but not the organisation.

In fact, whenever you are unable to capitalize on the wealth of knowledge, experience and proficiency within your sales team, its time to assess the level of communication and interpersonal skills.

It's important for the senior management to recognize the vital role soft skills play within your team and not only work on developing them within yourself, but encourage their development throughout the organization.

  • Typical areas you need to examine and develop are;

    > Accountability. > Collaboration efforts.
    > Negotiation skills. > Conflict management.
    > Adaptability and flexibility > Clarity of communication.
    > Creative thinking. > Coaching and mentoring.

For the today's sales force, soft skills are increasingly important & should be given equal importace as the hard skills. It's just not enough to be knowledgeable only in technical skills. Interpersonal and relationship-building skills that help people to communicate and collaborate effectively are equally important.

In an increasingly interconnected world, you cannot do everything by yourself !

With experience of two decades, read "How we help our clients" to improve business.




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