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10 Real Estate Agent Skills You Need for Sales Success

By Star Report 10 min read

What does it take to excel as a sales professional? 

While each industry and organization has its unique operations and offerings, certain fundamental skills for sales associates are essential for practically every role.

In this article, we’ll cover the following:

  1. What It Takes to Perfect Sales Associate Skills
  2. Top Ten Sales Associate Traits to Master Success
    1. A positive attitude
    2. Empathy
    3. Active listening skills and strong communication
    4. A curious nature 
    5. Creative problem-solving skills 
    6. Collaboration
    7. Well-prepared for anything
    8. Hunter, not farmer attitude 
    9. Commitment to self-education 
    10. Flexibility 
  3. Skills to Include on Your Sales Associate Resume 

This way to your path forward in a sales career 🚀

What It Takes to Perfect Sales Associate Skills 

Some think a strong sales approach can be boiled down to just an exciting pitch — in reality, a good sales approach involves enthusiasm, time devoted to understanding customers’ needs, empathy, and a healthy dose of confidence. 

The most successful salespeople can weather the ups and downs on the rollercoaster that is selling. They’ve been through the toughest of times and downswings only to bounce back stronger and more successful.

And importantly, it takes time to cultivate the right skills needed to reach the pinnacle of selling. Becoming the sales professional you want to be doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a commitment to the craft and a lifestyle of learning.

Read on for a breakdown of the top ten traits we believe are needed to succeed as a sales professional ⬇️

Top Ten Skills For Sales Associates  to Drive Success in Their Career 

A positive attitude

Successful individuals in the selling space, particularly those who progress quickly and establish enduring careers, are characterized by their ability to uphold a positive mindset throughout the entire sales journey.

A negative outlook among sales associates can exert a detrimental influence on the entire team, and it can also greatly dampen motivation. If you’re leading with negativity, full team morale can quickly plummet, and numbers go down. 

A positive attitude means more team confidence and ensures you’re having fun along the way — thereby leading to higher retention of team members. As this LinkedIn article states, positivity can also lead to building rapport with clients; a friendly approach can foster long-lasting client relationships and lead to repeat business. Positivity can also reduce stress and burnout — by focusing on the positive aspects of your role, you can more easily recharge and maintain healthy levels of work-life balance. 

The article also shares some easy ways to cultivate a positive attitude, including:

  • Practice gratitude
  • Reframe setbacks
  • Surround yourself with positivity 
  • Engage in positive self-talk
  • Break down your objectives and set realistic goals 


As HubSpot Sales Manager Alex Riffle puts it, "I always try to lead with empathy and think about how our tools could solve challenges prospects or customers are likely facing. The approach doesn't change — even as the challenges we're solving for do."

Selling effectively means you need to be able to step into the customers’ shoes and experience what they’re feeling, finding the ultimate solution for their pain points. Practicing empathy means being in tune with each unique problem and, according to this article, leading with a genuine curiosity, concern, and interest in your customers. 

Jordan Benjamin, Principal Partner Sales Manager at HubSpot, offered this advice, "My go-to question is 'How are you doing?' I try to use a tone that shows I really care and am curious to hear.”

Before diving into specifics and getting into selling mode, step back. What state of mind is the prospect in today, and where are they coming from? Understanding where they are in that moment can help you find empathy and push the relationship into a deeper realm as you work to close the sale.

Active listening skills and strong communication

Any top professional today knows the importance of leading with listening as a key sales associate skill. Active listening is a critical part of understanding unique buyer needs and learning how you best meet them. 

Active listening starts with paying close attention to everything the prospect says during the “discovery” stage of the funnel — taking down notes and remembering important details on each buyer’s story. These small details can include the names of close family members, names of any other core decision-makers, history of why they made a certain purchase in the past, etc.

In this Harvard Business Review article, Robin Abrahams and Boris Groysberg from Harvard Business School describe active listening as having three aspects:

  1. Cognitive: paying attention to explicit and implicit information shared by someone 
  2. Emotional: remaining calm and compassionate, managing emotional reactions 
  3. Behavioral: conveying interest verbally and nonverbally 

Practicing active listening is a “lifelong endeavor.” Some techniques to begin practicing include: understanding your default listening style and making an active, conscious choice about how to listen. 

A curious nature 

The best sales associates have an innate curiosity to learn everything about a prospect they possibly can and ask all of the right questions. Initial follow-up questions to a customer’s explanation of what they’re looking for can include “Can you tell more more about that” and “Help me learn where you’re coming from with that ask?”

Curiosity goes beyond just asking the right questions during the buying process — it means having a strong drive to learn more and dig deeper into client hot buttons to determine how to best support prospect needs.

And you can strive to be more curious by practicing certain tricks to help you get there. For example, start by detaching and letting go of your ABCs (assumptions, biases, and certainty) and instead get to the heart of where someone’s coming from without any preconceived notions. 

Creative problem-solving skills 

Creatively figuring out the “why” behind each prospect’s desire to make a purchase is an important core sales associate skill. Sellers categorized as creative problem-solvers not only get to the bottom of what the customers want and need, but they uncover things customers didn’t even know they wanted or needed.

As this article shares, some examples of creative problem-solving in sales include identifying the root cause, thinking outside the box, and experimenting and testing. By thinking outside the box, for example, sellers generate multiple solutions for the problem. If a buyer is concerned about price, sellers could offer a payment plan, discount for a longer commitment, or free trial. Another solution could be shifting focus of the conversation from price to value and exploring how the solution might save them money in the long run.


A collaborative prospect/seller relationship goes far beyond the standard transaction and instead focuses on the relationship as a long-term, nurtured one. By building strong relationships with clients, you create a more favorable environment during that one sale but also set yourself up for strong referrals and potential future sales from them.

Collaboration in sales also refers to strong collaboration with your internal team. Sales collaboration means jointly defining target markets and customer profiles, collaborating on sales presentations and proposals, coordinating sales efforts with marketing and other teams, and more. You can go further together!

Well-prepared for anything

The best sales associates predict questions from the prospective buyer and prepare, prepare, prepare for potential asks that will come their way. 

While it’s of course impossible to know everything about what you’re selling and be able to answer all questions, the best sellers have a strategy in place when a tough question comes along. If they don’t know the answers, they’re well prepared to quickly assess the right information and do fast research to find it. 

Hunter, not farmer attitude 

Rockstar sales associates fall into what we call the “hunter” category, meaning they don’t just wait for something to come to them — they get proactive and determine how to best educate themselves on specific markets. 

Say there’s an opportunity to sell new homes in a golf course community, for example. Average sellers will do some online research. Those who go above and beyond will hang out there and get a sense of the people who live there, immersing themselves in the community. What do they do, and what does their day-to-day life look like? What perks are in the community that aren’t listed on the website?

Proactively offering this extra information hunters have gathered to the prospect can be the last push that makes them feel they can fully trust and feel confident you know what’s best for them.

Commitment to self-education 

This one goes along with curiosity but also deserves its own section because a desire to constantly learn separates the mediocre sellers from the ones who will go far.

Sellers committed to self-education have an innate desire to pick up new skills, whether from online training programs, books, peers, or mentors. They aren't comfortable with the status quo (and that’s a good thing!). They want more from their careers and are willing to go the extra mile to make sure they’re up to date on trends, best practices, etc. They follow all of the best sales newsletters and have a successful network of mentors to learn from.


Finally, adaptability in a sales associate role is a must as so many factors constantly shift and you must be able to keep pace. Sales is a dynamic and competitive field, and adaptability helps you convert more leads and build customer trust and loyalty. 

A few other reasons why adaptability is especially important in the sales role:

  1. Varied customer profiles: Customers come from diverse backgrounds and have different communication styles; being adaptable allows sales professionals to tailor their approach.
  2. Changing market conditions: Markets can change rapidly. Salespeople need to stay informed about industry trends, competitor activities, and market conditions.
  3. Handling objections: Customer objections are common. Adaptable individuals can effectively address objections by adjusting their responses in real time, turning potential obstacles into opportunities.
  4. Technology advances: Sales professionals need to adapt to new tools and platforms that can enhance their efficiency and effectiveness in reaching potential customers.
  5. Customer feedback: Customer feedback is invaluable for improving products or services and refining sales approaches. An adaptable salesperson welcomes feedback, learns from it, and adjusts their methods accordingly.

Skills to Include in a Sales Associate Resume 

Of course, it’s essential to share stories and anecdotes during your interviews and on your resume (if applicable, and if you have space!) that illustrate your proficiency in at least some of the skills listed above.

According to Indeed’s Career Guide, here are the top ten skills to include on your sales associate resume (many of which tie into the traits above):

  1. Organizational skills 
  2. Communication skills
  3. Problem-solving skills
  4. Time management skills
  5. Product knowledge
  6. Interpersonal skills
  7. Team leadership skills
  8. Retail software skills
  9. Numeracy
  10. Languages 

Thinking about kicking off your sales career?

Sales is a demanding career, but it can also be very rewarding and offer you the chance to form many lasting relationships both with clients and teammates. It’s collaborative, dynamic, and social, making it an exciting career for driven individuals. 

Having at least a start on the majority of the traits mentioned above is a good place to begin if you’re looking for a sales role.

Haven’t mastered some of them yet? Don’t worry! Strong selling takes tons of practice. As long as you’re working toward it, you’re well on your way.

Interested in a career in new home selling? Check out careers on the New Home Star sales team.

Originally published Feb 21, 2024 under Explore the latest topics, updated February 21, 2024

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