When it comes to selling, there are plenty of things outside your control. You can't control the mood of your prospect, or whether a gatekeeper answers when you call. You can't control industry trends, or what your competitors are doing. In fact, you could spend all day stressing about everything you can't--but that won't get you anywhere in sales.

The top 1 percent of salespeople don't worry about what's outside their control. Instead, they only focus on what is firmly in their control--namely, developing the skills necessary to thrive in today's market.

Check out these seven must-have skills you should be focusing on in order to dominate your competition in sales.

1. Set personal goals.

Most people like to make two lists, one for their personal goals and one for their professional goals. In order to set yourself up for success, start viewing all goals as personal. After all, your personal goals are always the "why" behind your professional goals. Sit down, make one clear list of all you want to accomplish, then go out and crush those goals.

2. Seek out introductions.

Introductions are perhaps the single most important skill salespeople must master to succeed in today's market. There's no more powerful tool for success in sales than a full pipeline. Fortunately, it's entirely in your control to achieve one. Ask everyone you know--friends, family, customers, and prospects--to introduce you to other people you can do business with. With the security of a full pipeline, you'll have the confidence to connect with valuable prospects and close more sales than ever before.

3. Establish daily targets.

Top salespeople know exactly how many prospecting emails they need to send, calls they need to make, and meetings they need to set every day in order to crush their goals. Take a look at your closing ratio to determine the exact number of prospecting outreaches you need to accomplish each day. Then commit yourself to meeting those targets.

4. Flip the standard.

Your prospects hear from salespeople every single week--maybe even every single day. If you sound like everybody else, your prospects will immediately put up a wall and keep you at arm's length. To stand out from the crowd and capture their attention, look for innovative ways to connect with your prospects by breaking the pattern of normal sales. Flip the standard approach on its head.

5. Script your opening.

Research shows that people decide in just seven seconds whether or not they want to continue a conversation with a stranger. If you aren't making the most of those first seven seconds, you're missing out on massive opportunities to engage with prospects and close more sales. Instead of winging your opening, script out exactly what you'll say. Soon, you'll be able to start a successful conversation with any prospect you choose.

6. Ask good questions.

Most salespeople know to ask questions, but very few understand how to ask good questions. The key is understanding what your prospect cares most about--solving the challenges right in front of them. Your questions should prompt them to open up about those challenges. Ask many value-building questions throughout the sales meeting to understand how you can use your offering to solve those key problems.

7. Find a fit.

Prospects expect you to persuade them to buy your offering--and if you do just that, you'll immediately lose their trust. Instead, focus your interaction on determining whether or not the prospect is even a good fit for what you sell. Learn to disqualify those who aren't a fit and move on. Prospects will sit up and take notice when you adopt this approach, and they'll be far more likely to view you as an expert.

Will you commit to developing these must-have sales skills in order to succeed in today's market? Share your plans in the comments below.

Published on: May 4, 2017
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