page contents

Everyone is more or less aware what makes a good sales executive or salesman. If you ask HR Managers, recruiters or Sales Managers what the qualities of a good sales executive are – they shall provide you with a ready list of skills. Those lists may include self-efficacy, negotiation skills, leadership skills and much more.

But if you dig deeper, and ask the HR Manager or the Sales Manager individually, what does negotiation skills or self-efficacy of a salesperson means to them – they shall give you a different picture for sure. That’s why Competencies are more enduring than skills. If you don’t understand the basic difference between sales skills and sales competencies – you are recruiting the wrong salesperson for your Company for sure.

Not understanding the basic difference between Sales Skills and Sales Competencies are the reason for so many bad hires in companies. It is the reason behind why a good sales executive from one company fails to perform in his next company. It may be the reason behind why some sales executives go up the ladder quickly and others languish and become disengaged.

Sales Competencies take “Sales skills” and incorporate them into on-the-job sales behaviours which may help you predict the ability to perform the sales related job requirements competently in a much-assured way.

Though skills are an important part of any job profile, they’re not robust or nuanced enough to guide talent-management activities. Competencies help you to manage the talent lifecycle, in a systematic, consistent, structured, progressive way with a unifying vision. Competencies are more enduring than Skills. You need to understand the difference between sales skills and sales competencies to provide a strong but flexible foundation that links every successful organizational activity.

If we break down the Competencies required for being a successful Salesperson in a certain company, it will become very easy for you to understand the difference between sales skills and sales competencies.

For example, Communication Skills, Analytical Ability, Problem Solving, Initiative, etc. are the necessary skills of a successful salesperson. But clubbing together these are all behavioural competencies. These competencies are problem-solving skills or life skills that are used to handle problems and questions commonly encountered in daily sales cycle or during the sales pitch. And these competencies cannot be of the same type in all companies; as the products, customers and sales techniques of different companies are not the same.

Analysing Business Environment, Industry and Professional Standards, Negotiation Skills, People Management, etc. – all these skills can be clubbed together as professional competencies. Professional competencies are competencies that allow for success in an organizational context.  They are the accelerators of performance or – if lacking in sufficient strength and quality – are the reason people fail to excel in jobs. Thus, a person’s same skill set cannot guarantee to deliver the same level of productivity in two different companies as the business environment of different companies are not the same.

Competencies can be further divided into three categories based on the level of criticality. These are the Core Competencies, Key Competencies, and Critical Competencies. These are more important to keep in mind while hiring sales people or talents are these competencies directly results in the growth or decay of the organization as a whole.

While Core competencies are those competencies that any successful employee will need to rise through the organization, Key competencies contribute to valued outcomes of the organization, defining the abilities of individuals to meet strategic demands, and are important not just for specialists but for all individuals. And Critical competencies are competencies without which the organization will be unable to achieve its goals and strategy.

We hope you have understood that why Competencies are more enduring than Skills. Prior to hiring any salespeople for your company if you fail to chalk out the difference between sales skills and sales competencies and define a comprehensive competency framework for your organization you multiply the chance of bad hires. No doubt, why most companies are opting for competency-based job assessments before taking job interviews of candidates.