The Most Important Sales Skills for Your Resume

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 6, 2022

Published June 21, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When applying for sales positions, ensuring you have the right skills to include on your resume is important. Your resume should highlight role-specific skills, such as customer service and communication, to make a good first impression on prospective employers. In this article, we discuss the knowledge and skills you need to develop and include on your resume to showcase your abilities in a sales role.

Academic requirements to work in sales

As sales roles vary significantly, educational requirements are different for every position. Many entry-level sales roles exist where candidates only need a high school diploma or GED. Companies offering higher-ranked sales positions, however, may require more academic qualifications. Often, candidates need a college diploma or undergraduate degree in a relevant subject, such as sales, marketing, or business. A master's of business administration is an asset in most executive or managerial sales roles.

Employers may be happy with previous sales experience as on-the-job training is extremely beneficial in this industry.

What are sales skills?

Sales skills comprise hard and soft skills that help you sell a company's products or services to customers. Hard skills refer to the technical skills you may need, such as knowing how to use a Point of Sale (POS) system. Soft skills are transferable, meaning you can use them in any role. Some examples include strong communication, attention to detail, and problem-solving skills.

Employers looking to fill their sales roles want candidates who can build relationships with their customers, increase profits, and contribute to the company's positive reputation.

Related: A Guide to Soft Skills

Examples of sales skills

Here are some examples of common hard and soft skills employers look for in sales candidates and examples of how you can include them on your resume:

Teamwork

Candidates that work in sales, regardless of the industry, usually work with a team. Collaboration and a little healthy competition are essential for sales as it increases profits for the company. Being able to collaborate with other members of your sales teams can also help you learn new sales tactics and improve your knowledge. So, being able to work well as a team is a skill most employers value.

On your resume, mention specific instances of times you worked well with other people. It can be in a professional setting at work or even group work at school.

Example: "Successfully worked with a large team of 15 sales associates, merchandisers, managers, and suppliers to provide excellent customer service."

Communication

Excellent communication skills are necessary for most roles and industries, but especially in sales. You will spend most of your day talking to potential customers to help them and convince them to buy your company's product or service and improve their life. To do this, you will need excellent communication skills to inform customers of all qualities and details of the product or service you're trying to sell.

Strong communication skills are also necessary to work well with your team members and inform your managers of your progress. Ensure your resume includes key details and has no mistakes to exemplify your written communication skills.

Example: "Onboarded 15 new customers every month and kept in constant communication with my existing customers through e-mail and phone calls."

Related: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

Leadership

Even if you aren't in a formal managerial position, leadership skills are important for sales roles. You often work independently with customers, providing one-on-one sales advice. So you need to take the lead and show customers you're confident in the product or service you're selling.

Strong leadership skills come naturally to some people, but you can develop and improve them, even if leadership doesn't come naturally to you. Show employers you're willing to take on more responsibilities to express your leadership skills.

Example: "Took the initiative at my previous company to lead the store's health and safety committee. I organized and led all of our meetings and helped implement new health and safety initiatives."

Related: Leadership Skills: Definition and Examples

Analytical skill

To learn every detail about the product or service your company sells, you need to have strong analytical skills. In-depth knowledge helps increase your sales, as you can easily explain how a product or service works. Analytical skills also help you determine exactly what a customer is looking for, so you can offer the best product or service to improve their life.

Example: "Analyzed a new product catalogue every season and memorized the details about each product to explain them to customers."

Related: Analytical Skills Defined and Explained

Motivation

New products, services, and sales techniques are always coming out. So, to work in sales, you must be motivated to improve your knowledge and skills constantly. Show your motivation by going above and beyond for customers, reaching or exceeding sales goals, and representing your company positively. Providing an example of a time you went above in beyond is a common interview question, so you'll be well-prepared to impress your interviewer with a strong example.

Example: "Attended every optional sales course the company offered to improve my knowledge and skills."

Active listening

Similar to your written and verbal communication skills, active listening is equally important in sales. You must listen to what customers are asking you to help them effectively. Active listening is also important when interacting with your team members or manager. You need to understand what tasks they want you to do and to learn about the product or service you're selling.

Example: "Ability to talk to customers and actively listen to their needs and feedback, constantly improving my sales process."

Optimism

Working in sales requires overcoming some customer objections and sometimes rejections, but it's important to remain optimistic. Being positive and willing to go above and beyond for customers is a vital skill in sales. Customers are drawn to optimism, so they're more likely to return to the store and become regular shoppers.

Example: "Increased the company's customer retention by 15% by the end of my first year."

Role-specific skills

Although every sales job comprises selling a product or service to a third party, different roles and industries require specific skills. For example, a sales manager may need to have presentation or advertising skills. Here are some role-specific skills you may need to develop and include on your resume:

  • Client retention

  • Advertising

  • Presentation technology

  • Client acquisition

  • Customer relationship management software

  • Social media

  • Pitch creation

  • Public speaking

Example: "Successfully used Salesforce CRM software to keep track of clients' information and past sales."

Related: “Why Sales?”: How to Answer This Interview Question

Integrity

Employers rely on their sales team to leave a good impression on customers. To do this, you need integrity. Being honest and transparent with customers will show them you care about their needs and want to sell them products or services they can actually benefit from. It will help uphold the company's positive image and encourage customers to keep shopping with you.

Example: "Followed the company's code of conduct closely to provide excellent customer service and contribute to a positive work environment."

Related: Relationship and Effect of Customer Service in Sales

Negotiation

Many sales roles require candidates to negotiate more lucrative deals as it increases profits for the company and its employees. Strong negotiation skills will help you upsell and close deals while not being too pushy. Customers don't enjoy aggressive sales techniques, so developing your negotiation skills will help you recognize how far to push a sale.

Example: "Consistently upsold customers from our basic insurance package to our all-inclusive one."

Public speaking

Although public speaking is many people's greatest fear, it's a vital skill to have in sales. You're in constant communication with people and often give demonstrations or presentations. If you aren't confident, customers are less likely to buy from you. So, having strong public speaking skills will help boost your confidence and increase sales.

Example: "Held monthly meetings to update our management team and investors on my team's progress with reaching our sales goals."

Related: 14 Strategies for Developing Your Oratory Skills

Sales resume sample

Now that you know the most important skills employers are looking for in sales, here are some ways you can include them on your resume:

Sales skills in a resume skills section

You should format the skills section of your resume in bullet points or brief sentences to grab a hiring manager's attention quickly. Here's what it should look like:

Skills

  • Strong verbal and written communication

  • Excellent customer service skills

  • Ability to meet sales goals

  • Natural desire to close deals

Sales skills in a resume work experience section

You can also use the work experience section of your resume to showcase your skills. For example:

XYZ Clothing Sales Associate | January 2017 - April 2019

  • Consistently met quarterly and annual sales goals

  • Worked closely with a team of 20, including sales associates, merchandisers, and managers

  • Upsold customers to increase our average sales ticket

  • Restocked shelves and organized the store

Related: 14 Resume Writing Tips to Help You Land a Job

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