Are good sales people born, or can they be made?

Are good sales people born, or can they be made? Should I hire someone who doesn’t appear to be a natural salesperson in the hope they grow into the role, or not?


Born or made? Most people assume that a born salesperson is an extrovert with the gift of the gab who can charm anyone and everyone.


And yet some of the best salespeople I know are quieter types, with a friendliness about them and an innate ability to listen. Born? Some. Made? Absolutely!


Both need to be trained into ‘your way’ of selling.


“What’s the point of training my staff? I no sooner train them and they leave… So many times, this is the lament I hear from business owners.


My answer is always the same: “Your choice is to train them and run the risk of them leaving, or not training them and run the risk of them staying.”


The truth is, as a business, you’re either getting better or getting worse and in order to succeed, you need salespeople who are trained well and want to sell.


I hasten to add, though, training for the sake of training – with no means of measurement – is a waste of time and money. What is the point of spending time training people if you don’t measure the improvement in your business?


The only reason to ever do sales training is to improve a sales statistic.


In the simplest of terms, there are three general areas in which a salesperson must be trained in order to succeed:


1.     Operations

2.     Product knowledge

3.     Selling skills


Each area supports the others in enabling the salesperson to maximise their success. If a salesperson has mastered the operational side of the business, but is not comfortable or competent selling, then they won’t succeed as a salesperson.


If a salesperson has highly developed selling skills, but lacks product knowledge, they won’t be able to answer customers’ questions and their success will be limited.


If a salesperson has thorough product knowledge, but lacks selling skills, they will more likely fail during crucial phases of the selling process (asking questions, attempting to add-on, up-selling or “bundling”, closing the sale, etc) and will be unable to maximise their sales potential.


Without skill in each area, the salesperson is not likely to survive.


No salesperson with substandard performance can say it isn’t fair for you to hold them accountable for certain selling behaviours that you don’t require from top performers. As soon as they become top producers, they don’t have to take your advice!


Reaching sales goals is the benchmark for determining the success or failure of your team. Opinions shouldn’t affect your judgement about the ability of your salespeople to perform. They either reach their goals or they don’t.


Raising the performance level of your team is the key. Salespeople need better advice to improve performance than just “sell more”.


By tracking your figures, you get an insight into how the individual salesperson can sell more. In sales, you never coach the results – you coach what caused the result.


New team members with little experience in sales require a great deal of assistance from their manager in order to eventually succeed in the world of selling.


The bottom line is if you don’t like or know how to sell, do not hire someone who has never sold and “hope” they will grow into the role.


You need an experienced salesperson with a proven track record who fits your business culture – but you need to keep them accountable for results. It’s your business. Without sales you have no business.


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