Home > Personal Selling > People Skills vs. Sales Skills

People Skills vs. Sales Skills

From your point of view what is the primary difference, if any, between people skills and sales skills? - by Community Mailbox
From your point of view what is the primary difference, if any, between people skills and sales skills?
In the context of how the term "people skills" would be used on this forum I don't believe there is a difference.

One of the main problems for those who are trying to understand selling, is that sales skills are often thought of, and taught, as if there is a difference.

I have witnessed many people in sales who rely heavily on sales/influence "tactics and techniques" who fail miserably in their relationships. Their primary focus in life is in always getting their way. The fact is you can't always have your way and still be accepted. Ultimately they often fail in their selling career also. - by Gary A Boye
I would contend that there is both a difference as well as a significant overlap between people skills and sales skills. Their are many similarities, but the key difference is that having a mastery of "people skills" without understanding and being able to effectively use sales skills will not provide the sales person the necessary skills and knowledge to be a top producing sales person.

People skills are important and are a vital part of sales skills. However, there are some things that would fall under the "sales skills" category that would not be included in people skills. In essence, in the words of Jim Collins, people skills without sales skills will make a sales person, at best, good, but not great. - by Harold
In essence, in the words of Jim Collins, people skills without sales skills will make a sales person, at best, good, but not great.
When or where did Jim Collins make that statement?

If that is a misquote, I think you should retract it. - by Gary A Boye
People skills are a subset of the salesperson's moxie (or should be), as far as the topic goes. Its part of that 'three circle' figure we are all used to seeing, where the circles for product knowledge, sales skills, and people skills intersect into the preferred 'sweet spot' of where a salesperson optimally lands (or strives to achieve). - by David Mack
I was not quoting anyone, I was citing Collin's idea of Good verses Great from his book with the same title. - by Harold
To all discussion participants: If you feel there is a difference... which skills would you classify as "Sales Skills" and which would you classify as "People Skills"? - by Community Mailbox
To all discussion participants: If you feel there is a difference... which skills would you classify as "Sales Skills" and which would you classify as "People Skills"?
I'm not sure that barring the use of charts, visuals, and the like, that there is much distinction between sales skills and people skills.

People skills are, in my limited knowledge on the subject, are skills that relate people to people. Getting a child to brush his teeth probably in some situations, employ the same skills as one would use in selling...

"Johnny... have you seen grammy's teeth?"

"Johnny, she doesn't have any!"

Mommy "Do you think she likes that?

Johnny.. She has to eat porridge and baby food.

Mommy, do you like baby food? Johnny.. sometimes.

Mommy, do you like cheeseburgers and pizza?

Johnny... You know it mom... :)!

Mommy... Well if you don't brush your teeth, your breath will stink, you may not be able to eat pizza's and hamburger someday, and you'll talk funny! Doesn't that sound like a good reason to go in and brush your teeth now?

Johnny... Awwww Mom.... Can I finish this program?

Mommy... Of course you can, brush during commercial.

Johnny... But Mom... I might miss a good part...

Mommy... Yes you might unless you hurry and get back.

Johnny... Mom... I don't want to right now...

Mommy... Well I understand how you'd want to wait till later, so as I see it, we have to choose between brush now, or paddle now, would you agree?

This may not be the best example... but seems like my choices were always similar .... ;bg

Much Aloha... :cool: - by rattus58
Quote taken from the Forum banner...

"I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." --Albert Einstein " - by rattus58
Sales Skills is the directed application of People Skills to achieve a certain outcome. - by DaveB
Sales Skills is the directed application of People Skills to achieve a certain outcome.
Can you give a example? - by Gary A Boye
Would I be correct in saying that "people skills" is about gaining trust and building and maintaining relationships,without this "sales skills"would not have much impact
Positive Regards - by salesdog
I think, if your sales skills are strong and you regularly research your idnsutry and market, then you have a lot to offer your customers. If your people skills are adequate then you'll do fine. I mean being rude and insensitive isn't going to work, but there is no particualar need to be overly polite. It can seem as if you have no confidence and are rellying on polite and meek tactics. I guess I believe that sales skills and people skills are different. Sales skills are about delivering value and bringing about a close, while people skills are about interacting with other people in a comfortable engaging way. - by ToddR
Do you believe that sales skills are not "about interacting with people in a comfortable and engaging way?" - by Gary A Boye
As I said, sales skills are more about delivering value and bringing about a close. They are the professional methods for shaping an interaction to move towards particular outcomes. Comfortable and engaging may or may not play into that. Hey Gary did you ever buy groceries from a surly cashier...be honest, of course you have. It wasn't comfortable or engaging, but the cashier did get you to a close and may have delivered some value by doing the bagging. Of course it would be more professional sales practice to use positive people skills along with sales skills, but they aren't always esential, and let's face it, it doesn't always happen. - by ToddR
As I said, sales skills are more about delivering value and bringing about a close. They are the professional methods for shaping an interaction to move towards particular outcomes. Comfortable and engaging may or may not play into that.
It's my belief that comfortable and engaging "plays into it" more than "professional methods." However, perhaps if you gave a solid example of some professional methods, we could evaluate the differences. Most people here know what comfortable and engaging feels like.

BTW, "comfortable and engaging" brings about the close quite often. - by Gary A Boye
You'll see the difference between "people skills" and "sales skills" more easily if you just turn the qustions on its head. If comfortable and engaging are people skills and they "bring about the close," then is that to say that anybody and everybody that has good people skills will be a good salesperson? Nah, it don't happen that way! Sales training wouldn'g be a huge industry if all it took was good people skills. And I don't mean to belittle people skills, they are the glue that helps hold social life together, but they're different from sales skills. Good salespeople bring something more to the table-- they bring sales skills. Broadly speaking, sales skills are the ability to conduct conversation so as to solve problems and add value in a purchasing situation.

Conversation is a people activity, so people skills are usually a part of sales interatcions and always a part of professional selling. That's what makes it difficult to see sales skills and people skills as two different things. But not everybody with good people skills has good sales skills...there really is a difference between the two and to be a good saleseperson you need to know this difference. - by ToddR
You'll see the difference between "people skills" and "sales skills" more easily if you just turn the qustions on its head. If comfortable and engaging are people skills and they "bring about the close," then is that to say that anybody and everybody that has good people skills will be a good salesperson? Nah, it don't happen that way! Sales training wouldn'g be a huge industry if all it took was good people skills. And I don't mean to belittle people skills, they are the glue that helps hold social life together, but they're different from sales skills. Good salespeople bring something more to the table-- they bring sales skills. Broadly speaking, sales skills are the ability to conduct conversation so as to solve problems and add value in a purchasing situation.

Conversation is a people activity, so people skills are usually a part of sales interatcions and always a part of professional selling. That's what makes it difficult to see sales skills and people skills as two different things. But not everybody with good people skills has good sales skills...there really is a difference between the two and to be a good saleseperson you need to know this difference.
Good sales skills are a part of good people skills. There are many among the population who have both and who are not in selling because they have chosen other fields. But those latent sales skills, founded on people skills, are there nonetheless. And--if those individuals decided to enter sales, the people skills would carry them farther than any partaking of the techniques and platitudes, offered by the "huge industry" of sales training could take them.

The great educators in sales know this, but they do not make up the mainstream of what passes for "sales training."

I'll add that one of the reasons that sales does not attract as many highly qualified individuals as it could is because those individuals have bought into the popular misinformation about what it takes to succeed in sales. Today--that is almost tragic because sales jobs are open where many fields are closed. - by Gary A Boye
People skills to me would be having the ability to adapt or crossover to the many different personalities that allows a person to relate and communicate effectively. Reading personalities and recognizing hot buttons.

Sales skills would be the action that allows the motion of moving forward in this case the eventual sale of an item or service.

Examples of people skills would be Presidents Clinton and Obama who have that ability to communicate and be liked by many. Example of those who lacked people skills would be Robert Dole and Presidents George Bush, Al Gore.

An example of one that had both skills would be President Ronald Reagan. Who used people skills and then his sales skills to implement his strategies whether they were good or bad strategies is not relevant to this example. Obama may be in this category if he can implement his strategies.

I think you can be an effective sales person with one or limited in both people skills and sales skills however to be a great sales professional it is easier to be great with both sets.. - by rich34232
I think you can be an effective sales person with one or limited in both people skills and sales skills however to be a great sales professional it is easier to be great with both sets..
I think it is much easier to use the word "great", as you have, when you are limiting your examples of "sales person(s)" to heads of state or prominent politicians.

Can you give some (sorely needed here) real world examples of applied selling skills which would cause you to assign the attribute of greatness to that salesperson. Personal experience please.

If you can't, lets keep things in the realm of "effective" instead. As I've implied above, a person with people skills can be highly effective in selling, with or without selling skills as sold by the "industry" that ToddR refers to. - by Gary A Boye
Selling presumes purpose beyond offerring choices or unbiased advice. A sales person is suppossed to persuade on purpose. If we weild no influence, we are not selling.

One can practice good people skills without having an agenda. By chance we might persuade.

The entanglement of agendas makes selling an interesting occupation. - by Clive Miller
A salesperson without people skills is pretty much useless but, obviously, a salesperson has to have more than people skills. They need to combine people skills with a purpose.
--
Good selling
Mark - by markg
Earlier in this thread I said:

"Sales Skills is the directed application of People Skills to achieve a certain outcome."

Gary asked: "Can you give a example?"

You may be a great people person. You may know how to read people's personalities and body language. You may have no problem engaging a perfect stranger in conversation and building rapport and trust.

If you don't know how to work your way through the process of formulating an appropriate value proposition, or don't understand how to qualify prospects then you need to be very lucky.

Sales skills allows you to put your people skills to use more effectively. - by DaveB
Earlier in this thread I said:

"Sales Skills is the directed application of People Skills to achieve a certain outcome."

Gary asked: "Can you give a example?"

You may be a great people person. You may know how to read people's personalities and body language. You may have no problem engaging a perfect stranger in conversation and building rapport and trust.

If you don't know how to work your way through the process of formulating an appropriate value proposition, or don't understand how to qualify prospects then you need to be very lucky.

Sales skills allows you to put your people skills to use more effectively.
Thanks for the clarification. But it would still help the discussion if you were willing to provide an example. Perhaps one from your own experience.
  • What was the desired outcome?
  • What was the People Skill in reference?
  • What was the Sales Skill in evidence that was derived from that particular People Skill?
- by Gary A Boye
My people and sales skils are an integrated whole.

MitchM - by MitchM
Thanks for the clarification. But it would still help the discussion if you were willing to provide an example. Perhaps one from your own experience.
  • What was the desired outcome?
  • What was the People Skill in reference?
  • What was the Sales Skill in evidence that was derived from that particular People Skill?
There was a time early on in my career when I was getting by purely on my passion for my product, story-telling, and people skills. I would make my presentation and a would end up with a significant number of prospects waving their credit card in my face or shoving their money in my hand. I was still losing a lot of prospects though because I was not recognizing that it was time to close nor did I know how to close.

My mentor, Michael D Goodman, fixed that. He taught me to recognize 'the moment', and to use phraseology that is aligned with my personal ethics ("I take check or credit card", or "What would you like me to do at this time"?)

Without that, I would probably still be leaving a lot of presentations saying things like "Dang, he seemed interested". - by DaveB
There was a time early on in my career when I was getting by purely on my passion for my product, story-telling, and people skills. I would make my presentation and a would end up with a significant number of prospects waving their credit card in my face or shoving their money in my hand. I was still losing a lot of prospects though because I was not recognizing that it was time to close nor did I know how to close.

My mentor, Michael D Goodman, fixed that. He taught me to recognize 'the moment', and to use phraseology that is aligned with my personal ethics ("I take check or credit card", or "What would you like me to do at this time"?)

Without that, I would probably still be leaving a lot of presentations saying things like "Dang, he seemed interested".
Nice post.

Do you consider "What would you like me to do at this time?" a close or a closing question, and did your mentor take the time to differentiate--and how? - by Gary A Boye
Selling presumes purpose beyond offerring (sic) choices or unbiased advice. A sales person is suppossed (sic) to persuade on purpose. If we weild (sic) no influence, we are not selling.
Interesting way of putting it. Can you elaborate? - by Gary A Boye
Thanks Gary, I'm not sure what more I can add. Effective sales people are paid very well to win more than their fair share. Sales people are paid to persuade. Employers demand it of them.

It may be possible to be in sales and succeed by just offering alternatives however, this approach is unlikely to lead to outstanding performance. All sales people are competing with the performance standards set by their peers.

To make a difference, sales people have to impose there will, make things happen that otherwise wouldn't have happened, take a leadership position, and set about changing the course of events.

Doing so requires the adoption of one out of two possible attitudes.

Either I know better than the customers what is good for them or I don't care whether it is good for them or not.

To persuade I either have to adopt a kind arrogance or become a mercenary.

Without adopting one of these two attitudes, a sales person cannot be truly free to persuade. Neither attitude is at all comfortable for many people.

I have managed sales people who have achieved outstanding success by adopting one or the other of these perspectives. Those who shy away from both, never seem to acquire the necessary self assurance. - by Clive Miller
Thanks Gary, I'm not sure what more I can add. Effective sales people are paid very well to win more than their fair share. Sales people are paid to persuade. Employers demand it of them.

It may be possible to be in sales and succeed by just offering alternatives however, this approach is unlikely to lead to outstanding performance. All sales people are competing with the performance standards set by their peers.

To make a difference, sales people have to impose there will, make things happen that otherwise wouldn't have happened, take a leadership position, and set about changing the course of events.

Doing so requires the adoption of one out of two possible attitudes.

Either I know better than the customers what is good for them or I don't care whether it is good for them or not.

To persuade I either have to adopt a kind arrogance or become a mercenary.

Without adopting one of these two attitudes, a sales person cannot be truly free to persuade. Neither attitude is at all comfortable for many people.

I have managed sales people who have who have achieved outstanding success by adopting one or the other of these perspectives. Those who shy away from both, never seem to acquire the necessary self assurance.
I think your thoughts are very well presented and it would be difficult to debate what you have said.

But, with all sincere respect, it's tempting. - by Gary A Boye
Well that's a compliment indeed. Thanks Gary. I was very tempted to debate 'The Peter Principle' when I read it. In fact I think I did rage against it, yet it retains it's irksome substance. - by Clive Miller
Well that's a compliment indeed. Thanks Gary. I was very tempted to debate 'The Peter Principle' when I read it. In fact I think I did rage against it, yet it retains it's irksome substance.
Having reached my level of incompetence many times, I would never debate the Peter Principle, Clive.

Uh..however..I haven't reached it yet when it comes to exploring, or debating, the persuasion factor in selling.

BTW, you're a fun guy to have aboard SalesPractice. Love your posts. - by Gary A Boye
This is my first visit to the forum and may I just say what a pleasure it is to find myself amongst like minded people. For my first post I think I will throw my 2 pence in here....

I think Sales and People skills come hand in hand and you cant excel at one without the other. It takes a high level of emotional intelligence to be successful in getting the desired results in sales, and likewise getting desired results from people.

When I say emotional intelligence I mean that you have to aware of other people's motivators, fear's, needs etc; and you must adjust your sales message to suit. Also you must be emotionally observant, ready to pick up a buying signal as soon as it takes place or to adjust your pitch as soon as you detect your customer disengaging.

Sales and life itself is about influence, persuasion and understanding. To give an example straight from my dinner table at home, everytime my family sit down to dinner I have the difficult task of selling "vegetables" as a good life choice to our children!!! :-)

My sales message is not "Eat vegetables because they will help you grow strong ang healthy", because a six year old child only looks forward to the next showing of their favourite television programme. Instead I provide an incentive for their co-operation, in the form of a tasty desert!

Sales skills are fundamental life skills. We sell ourselves and our ideas everyday to those at home and at work.

Sorry to rabbit on slightly, its my first post and I thought I would give it some gusto!

My name is Joey, its good to be here and Im looking forward to building some good relationships with like-minded folk. - by sales training tips
When I say emotional intelligence I mean that you have to aware of other people's motivators, fear's, needs etc; and you must adjust your sales message to suit. Also you must be emotionally observant, ready to pick up a buying signal as soon as it takes place or to adjust your pitch as soon as you detect your customer disengaging.
But MOST of all...you have to care. - by Gary A Boye
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