Were You Born to Sell?
"Was this person born to sell?" In certain circles this is touted as the million dollar question when it comes to sales and sales recruiting. The more crucial question hiring manager should be asking is:
"Is the born salesperson capitalizing on their talents?" The theory that Marie, the introverted woman in accounts receivable, can become the best sales professional in the company is naive and not realistic thinking.
The theory that anyone can become a skilled salesperson is frequently promoted in the corporate world and easy to see in articles written by sales consultants because they stand to profit off of the thesis that "anybody can sell."
Theoretically, anyone in decent health can run a marathon, but as an avid runner will tell you, when the pain begins to kick in around mile 15, only those with a passion and drive to run will finish.
Just like in distance running, the foundation of being an effective sales professional begins with an intense desire for consistent, positive interpersonal interaction. This is typically instilled in an individual while young.
Many sales people realize that while they may not get the top score on a math test, they are able meet all of their own professional needs with their natural ability to win others to their way of thinking.
It’s not a black and white situation. Sales professionals have to be born, or at least formed very early on. But our recruiters have found that's hardly the end of the story.
There’s More to the Sales Equation
However, if someone is naturally born with sales skills, why isn’t the most popular student in high school or college an outstanding business development person ten or twenty years on? Much of it comes down to a person’s intelligence, work ethic and integrity.
1. Integrity. The majority of sales professionals will tell a client what they want to hear or conveniently leave out key points. The problem is that the individual who does this loses credibility with their customers which damages:
a. Their company’s credibility with the client.
b. Their ability to influence a client.
c. Their chances of repeat business.
Easy money comes with a price. The more manipulative, unethical and inauthentic a sales person is, the worse they fare in their career. The stereotypical old-style "used car salesman" has the worst reputation and tends to take home notoriously small paychecks.
2. Intelligence. The best of the best have a knack for picking up market changes and predicting future hurdles before they happen. They also know how to cunningly exploit a competitor’s lack of integrity, creativity or competency.
Let’s use marketing services as an example. While the average sales professional will tell a client that their website, search engine ranks and social media exposure will be over the top after signing up for the marketing services, the intelligent business development representative advises a prospect to choose their vendor based on that company’s own marketing efforts.
3. Work Ethic. While the average natural salesman is sending out average mass emails that result in poor quality leads, or spamming people on LinkedIn, the highest paid and most sought after business development representatives don’t settle.
Sales people are born good. Rarely do they have the self-discipline and foresight to make themselves great.
So, Were You Born to Sell?
Getting away from the supposition that anyone can sell is an important first step to identifying the top potential salespeople for and within your organization. But beyond that, if you're seeking your next sales superstar outside the organization, look for the folks who never quit.
If you're trying to pinpoint rising stars from other departments, keep your eye out for the people who carry around a blend of ambition and integrity, and you'll have started looking in the right direction.