Are Salesmen Made or Born That Way?

Michele Warg
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The debate concerning nature and nurture in the world of sales may never reach a final resolution, but none can argue that certain salespeople possess personality traits that make them more effective at selling. However, a self-made salesperson can be just as effective with the right amount of discipline, determination and education.

Although some traits may be inborn, others are developed over time through social interactions at home, school and work. A natural salesperson tends to be resistant to rejection, able to accept responsibility, good at building relationships and comfortable with taking risks. He also tends to be a good verbal communicator with the ability to instill enthusiasm and confidence while getting his point across. Other key characteristics include a strong work ethic, optimism, charisma and a need for achievement. Many natural sellers also work around the belief that they're able to control the environment around them through their own actions.

A self-made salesperson may not possess all these characteristics right off the bat, but he can observe the attitude and actions of these natural sellers to mold his own personality. Although some salespeople have the ability to unconsciously build relationships and make sales, the self-made salesperson can accomplish the same feats through conscious effort with enough motivation and commitment. The idea that salespeople are only born and that a self-made salesperson cannot succeed is often used as an excuse by companies and salespeople to avoid investing in sales education initiatives.

The art of selling is a complex system that requires a variety of skills for different types of sales, so salespeople need to educate themselves whether or not they're natural sellers. For instance, a door-to-door salesperson requires a completely different skill set from a professional working with business-to-business sales. Salespeople must also create an effective sales pitch based on what they're selling and to whom they're selling it. Although some people may develop these types of skills faster than others, no salesperson is born with them.

One of the negative aspects of natural salespeople is that they tend to have a difficult time teaching and relaying their skills to others because they themselves never had to learn those skills. A self-made salesperson in a leadership position is likely to be more keen to the difficulties and challenges that his team is facing, and he can more easily educate them or provide the tools they need to succeed.

Although some people possess the right set of traits to sell without much effort, anyone can become an effective salesperson if he commits to developing his skills and persona. A self-made salesperson should seek out an experienced sales mentor or a reputable education program to learn the industry's best practices, and even a natural salesperson should focus on honing his skills to become the best seller he can be.


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