November 16, 2008

The big lie - Great sales people are born, not made

Despite the traditional misconception, great salespeople are not born, they are made.  Ok there are personality characteristics that indeed can help in selling, such as; an outgoing personality, the ability to develop rapport easily and maybe even the ability to deal with rejection.  However the reality is that a great many of those qualities traditionally associated with the natural fast talking and super-confident sales person are a hindrance, rather than a help.

However, the core skills essential to sales success are not part of the DNA, but are learned, practiced and perfected over time including; listening, asking questions, empathizing, building rapport, expertise / product and industry knowledge, determination, communication skills, etc.  These skills are the difference between the average sales person and the sales champion. 

The profession of selling is open to everyone.  The price of success thereafter, is the continual learning and refinement of a set of skills – the skills involved in helping people to buy.  You don't have to be the perfect or natural salesperson, just one that is committed to getting better all the time. 

Like any other profession selling requires continuous improvement and refinement of skills, attitude and approach.   And the most important way to learn is not necessarily through training, or from books, but by doing.  The good salesperson always analyses the last sales meeting, the last sales campaign and the last proposal to identify opportunities to refine their approach and thereby increase their success.  With every sales call the good salesperson gets even better.

Average sales people can achieve extraordinary results if they following the right approach to selling their product, or service and if they are provided with the right systems and supports.   A great sales person in the wrong environment with the wrong sales approach, will achieve only average results.    In particular, sales success is increasingly about process - a consistent set of steps, governing key activities; such as pre-qualification, relationship building, needs analysis, etc.

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