Sales Associate Skills

by Mark Ko
Sales Associate Skills

Salesforce gathered insights from nearly 7,000 customers and business buyers, finding that 80% of customers claim their experience when interacting with a company is just as important as its products and services. And for many customers, the first person they’ll interact with from an organization is a sales associate. 

When sales associates are executing cold calls, cold emails, transactions at your retail location, and presentations as the face of your company, it's necessary that you find the right people to make a good first impression. One way to do that is with comprehensive sales associates skills requirements. 

Read on to learn more about what sales associate skills to look out for in your candidates. 

What Are Sales Associate Skills?

Sales associate skills are the capabilities and experiences that make a quality sales associate candidate. Like most positions, candidates need a unique set of skills and experiences to excel as a sales associate. 

Most sales associate positions mostly require soft skills, but hard skills are important in order to confidently represent and demonstrate the efficacy of a product or service. In other words, while you want candidates who are great with people, you also need individuals who have a deep understanding of your services, products, and company, including any associating technologies. 

Below we’ll break down a list of some of the most common sales associate skills.

Example List of Sales Associate Skills

Here’s a list of some important sales associate skills you’ll find in most job descriptions. 

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Strong written and verbal skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Research skills
  • Self-motivated
  • Deep knowledge of _____ field
  • Familiarity with relevant software and technologies (CRM, POS, etc.)
  • Communication skills
  • Enthusiasm for brand, products, and services
  • Active listening skills
  • Empathy
  • Time management skills
  • Highly organized

What Sales Associate Skills to Hire for?

Sales associates will be interacting with customers to answer questions, inform them about products and services, process transactions, upsell/cross sell, and more. This means they’ll need interpersonal skills as well as knowledge of your payment systems and other relevant software.

Hiring for these skills isn’t a luxury or recommendation, it’s a necessity. Here are some Salesforce statistics that show why it’s so important to have the right sales associates in place to interact with your customers. 

  • 95 percent of customers say they’re more likely to be loyal to a company that they trust
  • 67 percent of say that their expectations for positive customer experiences are higher than ever
  • More than half of customers don’t believe that companies have their best interests in mind
  • 67 percent of customers said that they would pay more for a great experience
  • More than 80 percent of customers say that being treated like person, not a statistic, is important for a business to win them over 


If you want to ensure customers have a great experience, you need knowledgeable, friendly, and impressionable sales associates on the front lines. 

Soft skills

At the end of the day, sales associates will be working directly with customers, which means they’ll need strong soft skills. This includes things like active listening, effective speaking skills, excellent written skills, grammar skills, confidence, empathy, conflict resolution skills, time management, and other key skills. The best way to assess these skills is through the interview, a 360 reference check, and through assessments like mock phone calls. 

Knowledge of brand, products, and services

Sales associates will need to be experts of your organization, mission, products, services, history, and business strategies. They need to be able to answer customers’ questions and direct them to the right place, whether that’s physically or digitally, to find what they’re looking for. Knowledge of products and services will also help them upsell and cross sell products and services, which will improve the customer experience if customers don’t know about all your products and services. 

Software and relevant technologies

One of the most important tools sales associates need to be comfortable with is a CRM. CRMs will help your associates track interactions with customers, improve your sales cycles, notify sales associates to follow up with leads, identify key customer trends, and more. Other technologies you may want to consider in assessments include sales intelligence platforms, POS systems, and sales analytics tools. 

Sales Associate Skills Assessment and Survey Question Template

If you’re considering which skills assessment and survey questions to implement, look no further. Below are a couple of structures you can follow when hiring a sales associate representative. 

Reference check questions

If you’re conducting a sales associate reference check, consider the following questions.

 

  • Would you hire the candidate again? Why or why not?
  • Describe the candidate’s relationships with their peers and team leaders.
  • What are the candidate’s greatest strengths? 
  • Describe an important sale or accomplishment this individual made at your organization. 
  • How would you describe _____’s interactions with customers? 

 

Email sales template

Ask applicants to craft an email for the next client, business, or set of customers you’re trying to reach. Rather than coming up with a hypothetical company or scenario, use the actual company and your sales goals in the assessment. 

Here’s what the task might look:

_____ customer came in last week for our fitness training service. They said they needed more time to think about signing up for an annual membership, but that they would reach out to you when they were ready. They also mentioned that if there were any new deals or offerings, they would like to know via email. 

Imagine you’re able to approve a discount for them, what would your email look like? Write up a message with the following guidelines:

  • Subject line
  • Preview text
  • Body (250 words)

 

Final thoughts: Sales Associate Skills

Ensuring you have the right candidates with the right skill set requires you to have a pulse on your quality of hire metrics. You’ll need to be able to assess candidates for things like performance, hiring manager satisfaction, culture fit, soft skills, and more. 

Crosschq’s proprietary technology can give you the tools you need to improve quality of hire, accurately assess candidate strengths and weaknesses, and make accurate correlations between skill set and performance. 

Our “Q” (Quality of Hire) Report looked at 24+ million pre-hire and post-hire decisions to find radical insights about what does and does not lead to quality hires. You can learn more about those insights and more by signing up for a Crosschq demo today

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  • Increase Quality of Hire by 34%
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Mark Ko

Content Writer

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Topics from this blog: Candidate Assessments

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