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Aircall's 7 Most Important Sales Calling Soft Skills

If you’ve ever picked up the phone to make a sales cold call, you’ve felt the sudden jolt of fear.

This experience is so familiar to the sales calling pros who have worked through the anxiety to smash down targets week after week.

Commission-based salary models.

Daunting quotas.

Rejection after rejection.

Jim Carrey Scared

These are standard scenes in the recurring nightmares of so many salespeople.

The high-pressure environment of a career in sales can make it tough to sleep easy each night.

Hyper-growth startup Aircall is more than familiar with the tossing and turning triggered by the sales trade. As a company competing with traditional business phone providers, the team behind the cloud-based call center know the importance of maximizing sales efficiency.

Aircall’s team made a critical realization on their way to sustainable sales success.

Successful qualifying and closing dependant on just a small number of essential soft skills - particularly in relation to sales calls.

Aircall is one of Pipedrive’s powerful integration partners and we’ve been inspired by their scientific approach to the so-called ‘soft skills’ of selling.

Aircall have been kind enough to share their insights and expert advice on how to train and improve these 7 key soft skills so you can start incorporating these lessons and smash more of those sales targets.

We want to replace those restless nights with higher revenues.

If you can level-up on these soft skills, you’ll start putting those bad dreams to bed.

#1 Timeliness is a Non-negotiable

Sales is thought of as the art of persuasion, where being charming and personable translates to better results. Charisma is often perceived as a must-have sales quality.

However, the numbers show that it isn’t.

Extroverts and introverts can both develop strong relationships and maintain market-leading conversion rates.

There’s one much more important characteristic shared by the best sales pros.

If you don’t possess this skill, you’re more likely to consistently miss your sales targets.

The good part > this skill is the easiest to learn and master.

It’s punctuality!

The first skill any sales rep needs is to be on time, every time.

Web leads are 7 times more likely to become qualified if initial contact is made within one-hour of creation compared to just two hours of delay.

Studies show 35% to 50% of all sales are won by the first agent to make contact with a lead.

Your 1 action to improve this soft skill:

Establish a relationship with qualified leads within one hour.

Follow-up fast.

Like the old saying goes: the early bird gets the commission 🐤💰

#2 A Good Memory Will Serve You Well

Buyers want to be treated as individuals.

This truism of sales holds across all markets and industries.

Regardless of what you’re pitching and who you’re targeting, every lead wants their unique needs and circumstances personally considered.

That means more research and a solid memory if you want to have the best chance of closing a competitive deal.

But you shouldn’t have to shoulder this burden alone. The right sales technology can help manage pressure, reduce stress, and trigger your memory to prepare you for important sales conversations.

A simple sales CRM will allow you to track every aspect of the buyer journey from prospecting to onboarding. You can plug dedicated tools into your CRM with ease to further automate your manual workflows and reduce your reliance on memory alone.

Agent note-taking can act as your technological memory sidekick. There are so many tasks you might need to action just after a call has ended when the conversation is still fresh in mind:

  • Logging call notes and summaries
  • Assigning and carrying out follow up
  • Updating your CRM and/or help desk
  • Looking into customer feedback

But what happens if another call comes in, or your manager pulls you into another meeting?

Call-tracking software like Aircall will help you rely on automated data collection instead of your hazy recollection. All you need to do is jot down a couple of quick notes straight after your call and Aircall will synchronize this information with your contact profile in your CRM.

Your 1 action to improve this soft skill:

Make a habit of noting down key points, and listening for information unique to your leads.

This will help you tap into the customers who prefer to engage with brands who truly make an effort to understand their personality and needs.

#3 Empathy builds the trust you need to convert

Remember details of previous conversations.

This shows you are genuinely committed to helping your prospect.

That’s how you establish a rapport and develop the trust that you can cash in for loyalty.

However, closing a deal is not as simple as recalling a prospect’s current pain points. You need to prove that you understand those pain points.

To put this into perspective, 9 out of 10 customers choose brands that share their values.

Let’s put this concept into a real sales situation:

A lead may explain that unresponsive customer support is the reason for switching to a new service provider.

Remembering this was the primary pull factor will improve your efficiency.

But if you can show the prospect you truly understand their frustration builds trust like nothing else.

You could recount a quick story about how you’ve personally experienced a similar kind of frustration with poor support in the past. Better yet, you could offer up an instance of a time when your team has demonstrated the kind of support your prospect is expecting. You might even like to honestly recount a past situation where your business dropped the ball - then outline how you’ve improved processes since this red flag to make sure it never happens again.

Honesty like this can show your prospect that you genuinely appreciate their specific problem.

Your 1 action to improve this soft skill:

Become a better listener.

This doesn’t just mean you have to let the prospect speak more than you.

Make sure you synthesize and respond appropriately. Engage in the conversation. What you say can’t feel like a rehearsed spiel if you want to develop the trust needed to convert a deal.

Be curious, find the key pain point, and prove you genuinely understand your potential customer’s unique situation by focusing on their emotions.

#4 Pitch positively (don’t tear down your competition)

Negativity doesn’t sell.

Your conversation probably revolves around how your product perfectly aligns with most of the prospect’s needs, and when it doesn’t there are solid workarounds.

However, a lot of otherwise good pitches, demos, and intro calls take a turn for the worst when the subject of competitors is raised.

So many salespeople let their competitive instinct get the better of their composure.

You might find yourself tempted to rip on an inferior product, notoriously bad customer service, or outrageous prices.

You might feel like you are putting your product up on a pedestal,> But this can backfire and reflect negatively on your own pitch. A little something called spontaneous trait transference can rear its ugly head.

When you badmouth your adversaries - your audience subconsciously applies those descriptions to you. As soon as you start your critique, your prospect often reflects those characteristics back on you and start to analyze your own solution with a negative, ultra-critical lens.

Your 1 action to improve this soft skill:

Focus on the facts.

  • Instead of using opinionated words like unfair, astronomical, or outrageous to describe your competitor’s rates - point out that your quote is cheaper
  • When discussing customer service (or other qualitative aspects) - stay away from rumors and harsh language
  • Tell the prospect about your superlative service instead, - give practical, relatable examples when appropriate

Stay humble, professional, and helpful. Your prospects will respect your even-handed composure more than your insult-slinging counterparts.

#5 Charisma is the King of Conversation

“Those who tell the stories rule the world” - Shane Snow, Founder at Contently

While timeliness and empathy help you get in the door, a little storytelling could be the connector you need to close.

Trade shows, happy hours, and live demos are effective for a reason; they give you a chance to give leads a little more than statistics and selling points.

When you get the opportunity to make your pitch, speak in a way that resonates with your audience.

Think of how can you make this single interaction into a memorable experience for your prospects. Use stories, anecdotes, and analogies to your advantage. Illustrate the facts with color.

One study described by the Heath brothers found that after a presentation 63% of attendees remembered the stories told, while only 5% could recall the statistics cited. Statistics and details are important rhetorical tools, but a plotline is much more memorable (you can probably remember the plotline of Remember the Titans, but nobody remembers the final score of the games).

Your 1 action to improve this soft skill:

Don’t be afraid to take some “creative risks” when speaking to prospects.

Using humor in conversations is shown to increase listener engagement, reduce stress, and increase productivity - all of which are vital to relationship-building and deal-winning.

Rely on facts, but illustrate the meaning of those facts with a memorable story.

#6 Curiosity is Your Friend

Contrary to popular belief, sales is a profession based on listening, not talking.

The most successful sales reps spend approximately 43% of their conversations speaking, while prospects have their full attention for the remainder.

A sense of curiosity and a genuine desire to learn accelerates the discovery process.

What makes a prospect’s situation unique? What pain points are universal across industries or consumers? Where can the product I’m selling fit into a prospect’s current workflow or day-to-day?

This type of curiosity helps close deals today, but the tomorrow of any sales professional’s career (or any career, in fact) relies on a broader curiosity - one that promotes continued learning on psychology, strategy, and management.

Your 1 action to improve this soft skill:

Reading is essential for growth.

There are a ton of great sales books out there to motivate and elevate sales professionals to their next gig and beyond. Some sources say CEOs read a book per week, but one book per month will still give you a competitive edge over most other sales pros.

#7 The Top is Reserved for the Tenacious

Sales can be an abrasive field, requiring persistence and the ability to bounce back from rejection. Whether you are cold calling, closing or upselling - those who stay in the game (with qualified leads) frequently reap the rewards.

Let’s look at some statistics:

On average, it takes 8 cold-call attempts to receive an answer; that’s a lot of rejection. And even when the leads are qualified, only half will pick up the phone after the first attempt. If one unanswered call is all it takes for you to give up, this leaves a huge number of prospective clients uncontacted.

This is where tenacity pays off.

The likelihood of getting on a call actually increases with each outreach attempt and plateaus around 6 attempts. The result is a 93% response rate when you persist.

Your 1 action to improve this soft skill:

Be patient and persevere.

You need to get used to hearing “no” a few times before a sale is final.

Only 2% of deals are closed in the first meeting, while 80% of all sales are closed after a lead has raised an objection at least 4 previous times.

By this all-important 5th attempt, 92% of sales reps have already given up, and the tenacious 8% receive the lion’s share of commissions.

The sales calling tool you need to support these soft skills

All sales professionals possess these seven essential skills at varying levels, and you should always work on improving and refining your soft skills. There’s always a new way to learn and grow your relationship management capabilities.

However, you need to maximize the time you spend nurturing customer relationships and minimize the time you spend managing manual admin tasks. The most effective closers take advantage of the best sales calling tools to consistently increase their performance.

Aircall’s cloud call center is specifically designed to help salespeople streamline their sales calling and bump up those conversion rates.

Pipedrive has a seamless cross-platform integration with Aircall and a whole stack of features to help effortlessly manage all your sales conversations.

The Aircall blog holds a haven of advice, tips, and specific information to help you go deeper on the topic of sales calling. You can learn so much more about dominating those targets with best-in-class sales calling tactics and strategies, and you might even be able to put those cold calling nightmares to bed once and for all!

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