Our analysis revealed four categories of skills and capabilities that salespeople need in this new environment: Commercial, relational, managerial, and cognitive.
Commercial skills and capabilities are about financial insight, business acumen and customer insight—specifically, insight beyond what the customer has articulated. In complex relational sales, customers expect business-to-business salespeople to act as business consultants and demonstrate a broad strategic understanding of their organization and the impact on the customer’s bottom line of the solutions they sell.
Relational skills and capabilities include the ability to manage multi-level, multifunctional relationships, to understand relational dynamics and to inspire trust. Across all the research we have done in sales and key account management, trust is repeatedly cited by customers as important in their selection of a supplier.
Managerial skills and capabilities needed by people in sales roles include people management skills (because so much business-to-business selling is now done in teams and cross-functionally), high ethical standards and integrity (growing customer demands in relation to corporate social responsibility and ethics are changing selling behaviors), openness to change and adaptability, and influencing skills.
Cognitive skills and capabilities include innovative problem solving; the ability to identify opportunities, the ability to work under pressure, and mental toughness and resilience.