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Commercial operations is a professional area that focuses on optimising a company’s ability to purchase or sell goods or services. Professionals who work in this field help their organisations manage their processes and improve their sales while reducing operational costs. An effective commercial operations team typically has a specific plan for the company’s growth and uses complex data analysis tools to enhance its commercial processes.

Having given this some thought, here are my main useful skills that when developed to help you succeed within a commercial operations team:

  • Understanding Strategy
  • Sales skills
  • Communication skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Analytical thinking
  • Decision-making skills
  • Emotional intelligence


Understanding strategy

A business strategy is the combination of all the decisions taken and actions performed by the business to accomplish business goals and to secure a competitive position in the market. It is the backbone of the business as it is the roadmap which leads to the desired goals.

To deliver real commercial value, organisations must become more competitive, and be able to adapt to a changing and challenging marketplace. This means facilitating innovation, change, and re-engineering the ‘business’ processes to ensure that any change is successfully implemented and managed to ensue benefits are achieved quickly and effectively.

Overall – looking at a broad range of services to support change; and provide a fresh approach in effecting and delivering such change.

Sales skills

Although working within a commercial operations team differs from working in sales, having a background in sales may help you succeed in this field. This is because both operations and sales employees use similar skills to help the company maximise its profits and plan for long-term growth. Therefore, strengthening your storytelling, active listening and social selling skills may help you perform your daily duties successfully.

What kind of skills do you need for a job in commercial sales?

Selling and commercial operations is a multifaceted and demanding line of work. In addition to being able to sell, commercial salespeople must have excellent communication, interpersonal, and customer facing and service skills.

How do I match my sales skills with the challenges in selling today?

With the advent of the digital age, however, the art of sales becomes a bit more complicated. Salespeople need to learn adaptive selling, meaning that they adapt and personalize their sales approach to that specific customer. A sales process that involves asking real discovery questions, reading the customer’s reactions, and adjusting according to each customer.

💡 Tip – You must have or attain the skill to highlight the uniqueness of your solutions by the way of a unique value proposition to succeed, or your selling as much for your competitors as they are for themselves.

 Communication skills

Commercial operations managers typically collaborate with business, management and sales experts to improve their company’s operations. They may use their verbal and written communication skills to explain ideas clearly and provide straightforward advice about critical decisions or important projects. Communication skills are also important to develop if you intend to advance within the company and take on a senior role because they’re an essential element of good leadership.

💡 Tip – Some of these skills are very distinct, even technical, such as knowing how to write clear and accurate reports and being comfortable with public speaking.

Negotiation skills

To excel in commercial operations, you need highly developed negotiation skills. Since negotiation involves knowing how to influence others effectively, having these skills may help you maintain positive client relationships and better collaborate with your team.

What are negotiation skills?

  • Communication – Essential communication skills include identifying nonverbal cues and expressing yourself in a way that is engaging.
  • Persuasion – The ability to influence others is an important skill for negotiation.
  • Planning – In order to reach an agreement that benefits both parties, it is crucial you consider how the consequences will impact everyone in the long-term.
  • Strategising – The best negotiators enter a discussion with at least one backup plan, but often more. Consider all possible outcomes and be prepared for each of these scenarios.

Analytical thinking

Developing analytical thinking skills helps operations professionals to optimise their company’s business processes more effectively. They may use analytical thinking to prioritise tasks and ensure the strategies that the company is implementing can help it achieve long-term growth.

How do you apply Analytical thinking?

Analytical thinking begins by gathering all relevant information. You then break up larger complex data, into smaller more manageable sizes. You then examine each sub-parts to understand its components and relations to the larger complex data. Once the data and sources have been compared, you can look through different points of view with the objective and understand in how it connects to other information. Finally, you draw conclusions from the information to draw appropriate solutions.

Analytical thinking uses a step-by-step approach to come to a conclusion as follows;

  • Gathering relevant information
  • Focus on facts & evidence
  • Examine ‘chunks’ of data
  • Identify key issues
  • Use logic & reasoning to process information
  • Separate more complex information and sub-divide into manageable parts
  • Find patterns & trends
  • Identify cause & effect
  • Understand connections and relationships
  • Draw appropriate conclusions

💡 Tip – This may help you understand how to notice complex patterns. Analytical thinkers can detect patterns between datasets that often lead to creative solutions

Decision-making skills

To increase your company’s revenue and improve its business operations, it’s helpful to know how to make effective decisions. To strengthen your skills, consider seeking training on soft skills related to decision-making, such as intuition and assertiveness. You can also ask your manager or supervisor for guidance about how to develop your prioritisation skills, which may improve the decisions you make at work. Enhancing your decision-making skills may help you identify critical factors in the company’s business strategy, set effective goals and provide company leaders with helpful advice about which decisions to make.

  • Problem-solving – The number one skill you need to be an effective decision-maker is problem-solving.
  • Collaboration – Decisions can’t always be made by one person. You need to have good collaboration and compromise skills to make the best decision sometimes when it involves a group.
  • Emotional intelligence – Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is the ability to observe and understand your own emotions and the emotions of the people around you.
  • Logical reasoning – This skill is key for the middle steps of the decision-making process.

💡Tip – While the skills listed above are the key skills of decision-making — meaning you can’t make any decision without using those skills — there are many more that will help and come with experience to support you and sharpen your ability to make good decisions.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence can have a surprisingly powerful effect on our lives, from our ability to foster long-term relationships with friends and romantic partners to whether we’re able to succeed in business and pursue meaningful work that gives us a sense of purpose.

What is Emotional intelligence made-up of?

This soft skill is typically a combination of interpersonal and relationship management skills. These skills can help you maintain relationships with customers, suppliers, business partners and colleagues more effectively.

The four key elements of emotional intelligence being:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Social awareness
  • Conflict management skills.

💡Tip – Emotional intelligence habits and skills manage your relationships by cultivating greater emotional intelligence. Healthy, productive relationships not only are key to our psychological well-being, they’re also vital to your commercial workings.

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