Are Salespeople Born?

Do you think Usain Bolt was born to sprint? Probably.

Is it also probable that he has taken lessons, listens to a coach and studies the sport to increase his success and help him stay at the top of his profession? You bet!

How many people got—and stay—on top without anyone else’s help? Everyone needs help. It’s one of the critical elements of success. If you know how to ask for help, you won’t have to reinvent the wheel.

That being said, how do you help your salespeople? Some believe that salespeople are just born with natural selling ability. A few years ago I asked a friend of mine why his daughter wanted to get in to sales. He said, “I’m not sure, but she’s definitely cut out for it.” I said, “How’s that?” “Well,” he said, “She’s got the gift of gab.” Is that what we all need, another salesperson who doesn’t know when to stop talking?

What makes a great salesperson? Some people think it’s their ability to talk, others may place a lot of emphasis on their personal charm, and sometimes it’s because they won’t take “no” for an answer.

All of these impressions come from their past influences and experiences. Long gone are the days of the “pitchmen” who razzle dazzle us with their showmanship. Success in sales today is dependent on so much more. Today clients are smarter and have access to more information. They make better, more informed decisions and need a salesperson who will help them make a buying decision. Today’s buyers won’t be bullied. When it comes to charm, you can get by for about 15 minutes but you better know something if you plan to make a living.

When I speak to business owners, I get some very radical views of how they perceive salespeople. Some see them as the front lines of their ability to generate revenue. One CEO believes salespeople are the backbone of business and it’s the sales profession that ultimately grows the economy. They believe if no one is selling, then no one is working.

So how do you get the next superstar in to your sales-driven organization?

Start by finding someone who has basic competencies: desire, commitment and the courage to fail. Failure is a natural evolutionary part of the success journey and to succeed, you have to learn how to fail.

Look for people who can tell you about their failures and what lessons they learned from them. When you ask a candidate on an interview to tell you about their success stories, you may be missing the most critical part that will define that salesperson’s character. How does he or she handle adversity?

Attitude, behaviour and techniques are needed to be successful in sales, but it’s the attitude you have to have internally. Behaviour and techniques can be enhanced with training. What’s under the umbrella of attitude? This means qualities like self-concept and self-esteem. Selling is a high-rejection business. If you’re reluctant to hear “no,” chances are all the best training won’t change that.

Attitude also includes internal motivation. Are you truly a self-starter, or do you need someone else to set the pace? It’s also important that your attitude includes being success-driven and money-motivated. That doesn’t mean you work 80 hours a week. It does mean that during your “pay-time” you are committed to doing what it takes to keep a full pipeline of opportunity. Attitude also means that challenge, growth and change are positive and you’re not happy with the status quo or your current comfort zone.

Work with your team to make them better at their job, develop their confidence and self-esteem and provide resources that help them grow your business.

If you are having difficulty, start by asking for help.

Stu Lewis has more than 25 years of highly successful sales and sales management experience. Now a veteran Sandler Trainer, Stu brings a wealth of knowledge and experience plus a highly interactive teaching style to Sandler Training, an international sales and management training and consulting firm. Visit

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