“Are top salespeople born or made?” Many successful salespeople have an innate ability to sell. Others have learnt how to sell well. Having identified the 7 natural instincts of top salespeople, Steve W. Martin focuses his research on exactly what makes a self-made salesperson.
He pinpoints 4 factors that determine the self-made salesperson’s destiny:
1. Customers value salespeople with language specialisation
Any competent salesperson can memorise the features and benefits of the product they are selling. Very few are able to hold intelligent conversations about the details of daily business operations.
Each sector has developed its own technical language to help understand terminology and technical words used in a specific market. The language is made up of various elements such as abbreviations, acronyms, business jargon and specialised terms.
The success of self-made salespeople is based on their experience in the sector and on speaking the corresponding business language, or having extensive knowledge of the industry’s technical language. These languages are the criteria by which customers measure a salesperson’s true value and have a profound influence on their purchase decisions. Those who perform less well are less talented at language specialisation and tend to focus on likeability and friendliness with prospects.
2. Modeling sales activity based on previous experience can achieve great results
Salespeople are constantly learning through the information they receive when interacting with customers and closing sales. They can then use this knowledge base to optimise their activity by predicting what will happen, and correcting previous mistakes.
Successful self-made salespeople have an efficient method for storing and retrieving all the verbal and non-verbal, factual and intuitive information they have picked up in the sales process.
3. It’s important to understand human nature when it comes to buying decisions
Customers tend not to reveal the internal machinations of their decision-making. Political acumen, says Martin, is the capacity to correctly perceive a buyer’s influence and motivation. Top self-made salespeople have made this a priority.
Focusing efforts solely on aspects that involve sales cycle procedure make it difficult to see beyond that. It’s just as important, if not more so, to understand the influence of human nature in buying decisions. According to Martin, “strategic planning without political acumen is a losing proposition”.
4. Self-respect is a motivator for achieving objectives
In sales, says Martin, greed and self-respect are closely inter-related. It seems illogical – but it’s not. In the sales world, the concept of greed takes on a completely different meaning from the one we’re used to, which usually refers to someone who’s corrupt or miserly. Greed pushes salespeople to leave their comfort zone and ask difficult qualifying questions while working hard to close the deal.
“Are top salespeople born or made?”
Yes, the majority of top salespeople possess innate talent, concludes Martin. But many others have learned infallible techniques including language specialisation, using their intuition and understanding how decision-makers work – skills that create opportunities to persuade those decision-makers to buy.
Which profile do you correspond to? Were you born with the DNA of a top salesperson, or did you decide to succeed by learning from scratch?
Source: Are Top Salespeople Born or Made?, Harvard Business Review 2011.