Ever overheard anyone say “ Mary is a born sales person”?
Or perhaps you received a clumsy compliment, “you are a born sales person!” Or have you ever said “wow, they are a born salesperson?”
I even once heard a candidate for a sales manager’s position tell the interviewer that they first got into sales because a teacher had told them that they were “a born sales person”.
That was a mistake.
The professional interviewers’ follow up questions quickly identified the candidate as an enthusiastic amateur.
“ Why do people buy?” “how do they make decisions?” “ what is a prospecting plan?” “show me an example” “ How do you measure and monitor your effectiveness?” “ How do you hold yourself accountable?” “ How do you know when changes in the market require you to change your prospecting plan?” “ Do you have written goals?” “ where do you go to for advice when you get stuck?” “ give me examples” etc, etc.
The “born” sales person’s enthusiastic and naïve grin soon gave way to confusion, then resistance, followed by defeat.
Imagine visiting a surgeon, asking to hear about his qualifications, and having them tell you that “I’m a born surgeon. Ever since the first time I helped my Mum cut up a whole TESCO chicken, she told me I was a born surgeon”
Imagine a hospital staffed with self-declared born surgeons. What sort of patient outcomes would the hospital get? Of course, thesurgeons, believing them selves to be born surgeons, backed up by the administration that hired them would probably find external reasons for the poor results. “ they buy levaquin 750 mg were incurable”, “we didn’t have access to the right drugs/equipment” etc.
Back to the world of sales. A person who believes he or she is a born sales person can fool themselves and those around them into thinking they are a good sales person- temporarily. Then something changes. The market, the competition, the economy, the company, the pricing. This is the moment of truth. They can either externalize the blame, or accept responsibility.
The deluded amateur takes the easy path. It can’t be me. I’m a born sales person. So it must be the company web site, the lack of quality leads, prospects who just don’t get how good our product is, gatekeepers who wont let me through, people who wont return my call, time wasters who ask for quotes with no intention of buying, etc.
A “good” sales person is eager to accept recognition when things go well, practiced at supplying logical reasons (excuses) when things go bad.
A great sales person accepts responsibility. A great salesperson takes ownership of the challenge. A great sales person knows they have to work hard at honing their skills, strategies, and tactics. They understand that external factors may change, and it’s up to them to adapt. A great salesperson understands there is no such thing as a bad prospect, only a bad salesperson.
Organizations that struggle to understand that great sales people are not born, often hire enthusiastic amateurs who have been deluded into thinking they must be a born salesperson because of a temporary winning streak.
When the results are inconsistent, it’s often easier for the company to blame the market, the competitors and anything other than the sales and marketing team, because that would mean admitting that they don’t have a process for identifying great sales people. They settle for good enough for now. Upgrading to a great sales team
I don’t care whether good sales people are born or created.
I do know that great sales people have the self-awareness to accept responsibility. The ambition and drive to keep them open minded to learn. And, through their own efforts, evolve, learn and grow to ensure they get results.
How do I know? I was a “good” sales person, …until I looked a little to closely at myself in the mirror.
Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from EverybodyElse by Geoff Colvin
Article in the Financial Times http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/9f5e50b4-750e-11e1-90d1-00144feab49a.html#axzz1rcqwfLSz