To improve your sales performance, call 1.800.218.0717

Why advanced communication skills are a must in sales

by Marguerite Zimmerman

It goes without saying the business of sales is changing. Digital technology, AI, and machine learning are impacting the sales landscape. Some sales functions or roles are definitely being replaced by technology and that trend will continue.

The good news is that while the landscape is changing there is an increased need for sales representatives with advanced communication skills. You might ask, what does advanced communication skills really mean? Why exactly are they so important? And how does one acquire them? Am I born with them or can I learn them?

All of the above are good questions. So let’s explore each question.

1. What are advanced communication skills?
It’s interesting to see the range of descriptions you might find if you do a search on “advanced communication skills.” The typical descriptions describe them as listening, questioning, and understanding body language. Others include social and emotional skills as part of advanced communication skills. Emotional intelligence is defined by Dan Goleman as “the ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions.” And to “recognize, understand, and influence the emotions of others.”

2. Why exactly are they so important?

This brings us back to the good news. As it turns out there are skills that aren’t about to be automated any time soon. An article published in HBR in July 2018 identified 7 Skills that Aren’t About to Be Automated. Three of these skills are:

Communication – Particularly the importance of being able to construct a compelling story that combines facts. Both tangible and intangible facts or proof. The key skill required is the ability to enlist the emotions of others to take action. The bottom line is that being able to capture others attention or to surprise and delight will always be in high demand.

Context – As it turns out AI or automated systems are not so great at recognizing context. As each situation can have a different context, the meaning might be different. Therefore, the messaging and pitch needs to change to match the context. These skills are very hard for a robot to understand intuitively or emotionally. It will be a long time before computers can understand the context of a decision in highly complex and creative, innovative situations.

Emotional Competence – Antonio Damasio, author of Descartes Error and neuroscientist noted that “it is emotion that binds us to action.” Advanced communication skills require the ability to take action or intervene in situations that are emotionally complex or where there is uncertainty, or someone is hurt. An even more complex level of emotional competence is persuading others (individuals or groups) by evoking emotion and being able to identify who bought in and who didn’t.

The balance of the skills are content (being a subject matter expert), teaching, connections, and an ethical compass. All of which are also extremely important in sales.

3. How does one acquire advanced communication skills? Am I born with them or can I learn them?

The good news is they can be taught if one possesses empathy or more precisely doesn’t have an empathy impairment.

One word of caution – advanced communication skills are not developed by reading articles or books. Communication skills are similar to mastering a sport or a musical instrument. There is no way to acquire them without applying what you learn. In other words, practice, practice, practice.

Given that we live in a world where the average adult spends 11 hours per day interacting with media (Nielsen market-research) communication skills are essential to get people’s attention.

To assess your communication skills, you may want to reflect on the advanced communication skills required to be a trusted advisor or to be a challenger sales person. Or take our free assessment on communication skills at

About Marguerite
Marguerite Zimmerman is CEO of E=mz2 Inc. & Founder of Momentium. Her career has been dedicated to helping sales forces maximize their performance.
Why advanced communication skills are a must in sales