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18 Good Skills to Have in Retail Sales Candidates

As a retail sales associate, you need to have certain skills to have a successful career. Here are the top 18 good skills to have in retail!

I remember when I first started working in retail, I had no idea what I was doing. It was a learning experience! But over time, I developed the necessary skills and now consider myself a pro at selling merchandise. If you’re thinking of entering the world of retail or are already working in this industry, make sure you possess these good skills to have in retail.

10 Soft Skills That Every Retail Sales Associate Must Have

When hiring sales associates, many hiring managers significantly underestimate the importance of soft skills. This is a big mistake that can have serious consequences.

Sales associates can learn selling techniques like how to close a sale on the job, but you cannot teach someone who is standoffish and introverted to be more outgoing and empathetic.

When looking to hire or promote a sales associate, there are 10 crucial soft skills you should evaluate. Let’s take a look at each one.

1. Helpful

Sales associates need to be helpful and knowledgeable to be successful. They should be ready and willing to answer questions, check on back-ordered products, discuss the pros and cons of similar products, and do whatever else it takes to help the customer feel confident in their decision.

People like to feel valued. If you make your customers feel like you don’t want to be bothered, they will likely leave bad reviews. Good sales associates always make sure their customers feel valued by asking if there’s anything else they can help with.

2. Empathetic

A sales associate needs to be able to read customers quickly and accurately to understand their emotions and needs. This way, the sales associate can figure out what motivates the customer.

If your sales associates have difficulty understanding and connecting with customer emotions, they may give suggestions or sales pitches that miss the mark. As a result, potential sales may be lost.

My ability to understand and share the feelings of others was a valuable asset when I worked in the jewelry industry. I could quickly assess the emotions of customers looking at engagement rings and proactively offer solutions that they may not have known they needed. This ability to empathize with customers helped me create a better shopping experience for them and ultimately resulted in more sales.

3. Patient 

A salesperson who is patient and takes the time to listen to their customers’ questions and concerns is more likely to be successful. Sales associates need to be able to explain care instructions, product warranties, and company guarantees in a way that puts the customer at ease. By taking the time to listen to customers, salespeople can build trust and rapport, which is essential for making a sale.

4. Friendly 

Your employees should always treat customers in a friendly manner. This will ensure they have a good experience in your store.

When interviewing potential employees, ask them what part of their jobs they like the most. If they say interacting with clients, they’re probably a good fit for your company.

5. Fast Learner 

Your sales associates need to be able to learn all the newest product releases, policy changes, and new tech hitting the floor. Products and industry knowledge are always changing, so your sales team needs to be able to learn new information quickly. This way, they can help your customers with whatever they need.

6. Multitasking 

The sales profession can be hectic.

Your sales assistant needs to be able to take in the needs of customers and recommend products that would fit them. They need to be able to quickly locate the product, keep an eye out for new shoppers, and be able to push for the sale.

The ability to multitask is an important skill to have in this role, as it will help you keep up with the fast-paced environment.

7. Time Management 

It is crucial to have an adequate number of sales staff to manage time effectively. Having too few employees can lead to a longer customer waiting time, which could result in lost sales.

Your sales associates are likely busy with other tasks besides just waiting by the phone. They might be making follow-up calls for sales, contacting vendors, or stocking inventory.

If a sales agent fails to confirm the special order of a customer, it can result in an unhappy client and a lost deal. This can be avoided by carefully planning ahead and managing your time.

8. Persuasive 

Persuasion is one of the key skills that retail sales associates need to have to be successful. By being able to persuade customers, they can close more sales and increase their overall commission.

Persuading a customer to buy something they don’t need is not what being persuasive is about.

Your team should be able to explain why customers need products that they could benefit from, whether that’s the product itself, an add-on, or a warranty. Customers need to feel confident that they are making a purchase that meets their needs.

Persuasive selling is all about understanding a customer’s needs, overcoming objections, and explaining why your product is the right fit for them. Feature-benefit selling is a great way to do this.

If someone cannot form a persuasive argument, they will likely struggle in the position.

9. Resilient 

As a sales associate, you’ll need to be able to think on your feet. You might have crafted the perfect sales pitch for the standard client, only to have someone come in who breaks the mold.

Be prepared to adjust your pitch and tailor it to each individual customer. This way, you can ensure that each customer feels like they are being heard and that their needs are being met – resulting in a satisfied customer and a successful sale.

As a sales agent, you’ll need to be prepared to handle different customer requests and questions. It’s all part of your job! You will need to adapt to the company’s changing policies and products, as well as keep up with industry trends.

10. Adaptable

To best meet the needs of their varied customers, sales agents must adapt their approach. By understanding the different needs, expectations, and concerns of their customers, they can tailor their approach to best suit each customer.

If a salesperson can’t adapt their sales or customer skills to different scenarios, they will have a hard time.

8 Hard Skills That Every Retail Sales Associate Must Have

It can be difficult to teach soft retail skills, so it is important to find someone who has them as part of their core personality. Fortunately, there are some skills for retail sales associates that can be taught.

Let’s take a look at a few hard skills that retail sales associates need to have.

1. Basic Math 

A customer is buying a game console. The sale is 15% off, but they want to know the full price including tax, shipping, and any warranties.

Your sales staff needs to be able to determine accurate pricing for customers, which includes the cost of taxes, warranties, and any other fees. This will prevent any surprises when the customer reaches the cash register.

Store employees need to be able to count money confidently and know store policies about checking for counterfeiting.

2. Product Knowledge 

A small business that deals in arts and craft products, such as yarn and paints, might not necessarily require someone who is an expert in either.

One of the manager’s jobs is to educate staff about the products.

Your team should be able to recommend products to customers based on their budget and needs. They need to be familiar with the pros and cons of various items and what you have in stock.

A salesperson who only knows about watercolors would not be able to introduce customers to a range of high-quality oil painting kits.

3. Active listening 

Listening actively means paying attention to the speaker’s behavior, not just their words.

If the customer says your solution is fine, but you notice that they are hesitating, fiddling with their watch, and looking uncomfortable, then you’ll know that it’s not really fine.

Listening skills are essential for salespeople. By carefully listening to what a customer is saying, they can more easily understand their needs and find an appropriate solution.

4. Industry Expertise

Having some knowledge of your industry is helpful for aspiring sales professionals. While it can be taught, having a background in your line of work can give you a leg up on the competition.

When training a salesperson at your wedding dress shop, it’s important to teach them about different types of fabric, cut, and fit – and how they complement a bride-to-be. They should know that certain fabrics are more flattering on certain body types and that long lace is not suitable for an outdoor wedding.

5. Communication skills 

The ability to communicate effectively is essential for retail sales associates. They spend the majority of their day interacting with customers, so they must possess strong communication skills.

Salespeople need to be able to communicate effectively with their team members in order to be successful. If a sale is not going well, they may need to ask for help from another member of the team.

Learning how to turn over clients, clarify their needs, and engage in light conversation is an important sales technique. Role-playing and practicing with your colleagues will help you master this art.

6. Sales skills 

Many people believe that the key to success in sales is having superior product knowledge, but this is not always the case.

Let’s suppose you ask for a blue pen in a store. The salesperson gives you two options.

If two choices are the same except for the price, people will usually choose the cheaper one.

A good sales rep would say that while one option is cheaper, the more expensive one is worth the extra cost because it lasts longer.

The pen has a comfortable rubber grip so it won’t slip out of your hand. It writes smoothly and the ink is bold and vibrant. It looks sleek and professional and the ink dries quickly so there won’t be any smudges.

The example here shows a salesperson using a basic features-and-benefits selling technique.

Sales skills are best taught early before staff members hit the sales floor.

7. Customer service skills 

Any customer-facing team members need to have strong customer service skills. If you have an associate who is only interested in selling to customers who are ready to buy today, they may not be the best fit for your sales staff.

Customer service skills are essential in being able to understand a customer’s needs or concerns, and then finding a solution that works both within company policies and for the customer. Being patient and empathetic are key soft skills needed for success in this area.

8. Tech literacy

Most retail employees use POS systems, which need to be learned by the team. They may also need training on using tablets or other devices on the floor.

If your employees are not properly trained on how to use the technologies you provide them with, it will affect their performance. Proper training is essential for your employees to be able to use the technologies you provide them with effectively.

Good Skills to Have in Retail That’s Right for Your Store

Soft skills are just as important as hard skills in retail sales. For example, having strong interpersonal skills can help a sales clerk build rapport with a customer, which can result in a sale.

When hiring a sales associate, it is important to consider both empathy and industry knowledge. However, it is also important to remember to hire based on skills that cannot be taught. This will ensure that your store has the best possible chance for success.

You wouldn’t want to hire a chef who couldn’t follow a recipe, even if he had a great recipe. The same goes for hiring a customer service rep who can’t deal with frustrated clients.

Although you can provide training on product knowledge, it is difficult to train people on the ability to recognize emotion.

Prepare Your Business for the Future of Retail

While some people may view retail sales as an entry-level job, retail associates are the backbone of any retail store.

Your sales team is the face of your company; not only are they responsible for bringing in sales, but they’re also building relationships with your clients.

Finding the right people to sell your product is absolutely essential.

While training can be helpful for inexperienced associates, it is important to hire employees with the right traits and skills from the beginning.


If you want to be successful as a retail sales associate, make sure you possess the necessary skills. The top 18 good skills to have in retail should serve as a guide when you are hiring or training your sales team. With these key skills, retail salespeople will be well on their way to a successful career!