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Dispelling the Myth of the Natural-Born Salesperson

May Newsletter

“ Product knowledge accounts for 5% of success, and knowledge of people accounts for 95%. If you can get an A in product knowledge but know nothing about relating to individuals, you will fail."

John Savage

Did you know that everybody is a salesperson in the sense that we must persuade others of the idea that the products or services we can provide will lead to a better life?  This goes for anyone who earns money: from carpenters, doctors and teachers to engineers.

Selling for a living is an honourable and respectful occupation that plays a significant role in the economy and our daily lives; without it, we would not enjoy many of the luxuries that we often take for granted.

The art of selling has been practiced for centuries and was used by the Phoenicians and Greeks as they sailed the Mediterranean in search of buyers for their oils and perfumes.

I often see leaders of financial services firms who want to improve their sales performance make the mistake of trying to find a “born” salesperson. Over time, most discover that searching for a “born” salesperson is a fruitless exercise, as no such person exists. The simple fact is that effective salespeople are made, developed and moulded, not born, and they come from a variety of backgrounds. They may have educational qualifications, or they may have no qualifications at all .

Selling is an acquired skill and one that can be developed, at least to some degree, by anyone. When a professional develops their capabilities in the art of selling, they are often said to be a “born salesperson” with natural talent. They have so thoroughly mastered the sales process and are having so much fun that they seem to have a natural talent.

But such skilled sales professionals are no more born to their profession than are top athletes, doctors or lawyers. Top professionals acquire their skills through study, reading books and attending seminars conducted by professional sales trainers. They learn the tools and techniques of selling from coaching, learning aides and observing other selling professionals. Of course, the best teacher is on-the-job training, performing sales tasks under the guidance of an experienced, trained professional who provides constructive help to replace fear with confidence and inaction with action.

Top professionals reach the top by consistently practicing the fundamentals of selling:

  • Finding  prospects
  • Qualifying and obtaining appointments
  • Identifying needs and providing solutions
  • Persuading prospects to buy
  • Generating referrals from clients

I'm often asked to conduct training and development programs to quickly develop top professionals. While the idea sounds good, in reality, training cannot be accomplished quickly,  than one can become a doctor, lawyer or dentist quickly.

Selling is a learned skill like any other; your abilities will improve by constantly  practicing the fundamentals of selling techniques. Of course, some professionals will develop into better salespeople than others, and skill levels will vary, as they do in all other professions.

If you understand and accept the fact that no one is born to sell and that it can take several years to become a top professional, then almost anyone is capable of improving their sales skills. Even if you never considered yourself a salesperson, you can sharpen your selling skills, and over time you may just become a top performer—one of those so-called “born” salespeople.

 
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