Top 15 Skills for Sales Associates

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 1, 2021 | Published March 12, 2020

Updated March 1, 2021

Published March 12, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Becoming a successful sales associate involves learning a variety of skills. Developing these skills can improve your ability to interact with customers and generate sales. Learning certain skills as a sales associate can position you for a long-term career in sales and marketing. In this article, we discuss the importance of skills for sales associates and the top 15 skills you need to thrive in this role.

Related: Sales Job Skills: Definition, Examples and Tips

Why are sales associate skills important?

Sales associate skills help you make positive connections with customers, interact better with coworkers and manage your duties. Skills that you can learn on the job help answer customer inquiries about product s and process transactions. Sales associate skills also help you build the abilities you need to get higher-level sales jobs.

Related: Learn About Being a Sales Associate

Top 15 skills for sales associates

Here are the top 15 sales associate skills:


Communication skills give you the ability to interact with customers, co-workers and managers. Use this skill to educate customers and answer questions they may have about your company's products. You can also use this skill to better understand feedback from your manager or to help coworkers complete certain tasks.

Customer service

Customer service skills help you build rapport with clients. This skill allows you to work closely with customers and ensure they have a satisfactory experience. Give customers time to speak to show your patience and willingness to provide them with a positive experience. Explain your technical knowledge of your company's products if they want to know more about them.


Problem-solving skills aid you in resolving challenges at work. You likely need to help customers with various issues, and problem-solving skills allow you to make informed decisions that make clients happy. When you face a problem that you can't solve on your own, ask a manager for help, and take notes so you can solve it on your own if you encounter the same problem again.


Sales skills involve being personable, knowledgeable and persuasive. You should be able to help customers locate products, make recommendations and encourage them to purchase an item. Learning sales skills as an associate can help you build a foundation for further learning if you plan to pursue a career path in sales.

Time management

Sales associates need time-management skills to complete multiple tasks in a certain timeframe. Balance your time so you can complete all of your duties, such as helping customers, stocking shelves and keeping the store tidy. Make sure you give your undivided attention to each customer to show you care about them.


Organization skills show how you can manage your workload. You can organize tasks by importance, such as operating the cash register, maintaining signage on the sales floor and studying promotions that you can offer to customers. Staying organized at work helps you switch easily between tasks at a moment's notice, which may be common on a retail sales floor.


Reliability demonstrates your ability to consistently meet deadlines and sales targets. A manager can trust you to perform well if you can meet your sales targets and build a good reputation with repeat customers. Your managers and coworkers can rely on you to help customers and complete additional tasks when you're reliable.

Mathematical skills

You need to use basic math skills when processing transactions. You should know how to make change quickly, apply promotions and coupons and notice any errors throughout transactions. In addition to math skills, you need to be familiar with cash registers and point of sale systems.

Product knowledge

You need to know the products your company sells to influence customers to buy them. Study the company's website, ask your manager for a tutorial and take time to review products in-store to educate yourself about different features and discounts available. For instance, if you work at a sporting goods store, research the different types of apparel online to understand their unique features. You can then explain the unique features to customers to help them make a more informed decision.


Teamwork skills allow you to collaborate with your coworkers and manager to help customers. You can create a positive work environment through healthy collaboration, which improves the interactions you have with customers. For example, you may have hit your sales goals for the month, but you help your colleagues make sales so they can also hit the target. Your coworkers are more likely to reciprocate the help you if you need it. 


Being adaptable allows you to change quickly with unexpected circumstances, stay open to new ideas and work on different tasks to help your team. Since many sales associate jobs are in fast-paced environments that change often, being adaptable can help you effectively manage your tasks while providing quality customer service.


Flexibility shows that you're willing to accept different tasks and shifts to help your manager and team. If it works for your schedule, tell your manager that you're available for different shifts when they need additional coverage. Be willing to perform different duties to show your flexibility. Being flexible can help you learn new responsibilities that could qualify you for a promotion or raise. 

Active listening

Active listening demonstrates your eagerness to help customers and solve problems when they arise. Let the customers explain their needs or issues fully before you offer a response. If you need to, ask questions to get a full perspective of the customer's request. You will improve this skill as you speak with more customers.


Persuasion skills can help you increase your sales. Give a unique selling proposition to the customer to persuade them to buy your company's products. Make sure your responses to customer questions are accurate and detailed to increase your persuasion skills. Use a friendly tone to make the customer feel more comfortable making a purchase.

Related: What Is a Unique Selling Proposition? Definition (with Examples)

Analytical skills

Analytical skills help you provide the best solution for customers. With analytical skills, you can learn about the customer's needs, evaluate the products you have in the store and make a detailed suggestion that helps the customer make a purchase. Take notes of successful interactions you have with customers to see if your approach works when speaking to others.

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