Benchmark Business Group

Developing Soft Skills

August 18, 2020

What do the greatest salespeople have in common? There’s many answers to this question, such as: they tell great stories, they uncover and help solve needs, they are likable, they can talk to anyone, and they connect and build relationships.

Overall, the skills that one would use to describe a great salesperson are soft skills. Rarely, if ever, would someone say Product Knowledge. However, in the financial services industry most training is centered around product knowledge. We get it. There is a lot to learn and understand in this industry. It’s crucial to have knowledge in order to select the best product strategies and avoid mistakes.

However, the lack of soft skills training creates a huge imbalance that often leads to people who could be great agents or sales associates leaving the industry. Think about the turnover for agents and sales associates, they didn’t leave the industry because they didn’t know the products or services, they left because they couldn’t sell enough to sustain their position.

Soft skills are just as important as product knowledge. We challenge you to look at the last year of training for you and your team. How much time have you invested in improving these skills?

  • Listening

  • Curiosity

  • Telling stories

  • Building relationships

If you’re like most financial services professionals that answer is: not enough. In this industry, the expectation is that with experience these skills will improve over time. The problem with this logic is that experience isn’t always the best teacher.

Improving soft skills takes practice. These can be simple exercises such as a 10-minute role play to handle common objections or how to introduce yourself to a new prospect. They can be call audits, which are often disliked, yet extremely effective.

Or you can look for outside resources such as our Service Through Selling or Building Sales Skills team or individual trainings.

Whatever method you choose, it is important to remember that improvement comes not in repeating the same process over and over, but in stepping away from the process and asking, how can we do this better? 

The ultimate goal is to realize that training for soft skills needs time on your calendar. There are plenty of options, but it starts with the realization that this is a priority. Once you’ve decided that it’s time to make training soft skills a part of your culture, let’s talk.

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