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Can Any Salesperson Truly be a “Natural” or is “Nurture” the Key?

Can you develop & improve sales skills or are they natural?

Are star salespeople born or are they taught? Is sales a skill that is hardwired into a person’s DNA or can you develop and improve on sales skills? This is a long debated question by sales managers and executives alike. How much of a sales skill set can be taught and developed with coaching? At 3Hr Learning, we feel that salespeople are made, not born and they are made with concentrated attention, repeated practice and goal-oriented direction.

Becoming a better salesperson

It is this belief that drives so many of the world’s largest sales companies to invest so much time, resources and capital into sales training programs and courses to help their employees improve. Here are a few key tips to become a better salesperson:

  • Become a student of your profession
    • Read the top industry blogs and books
    • Watch the rainmakers in your office and what they focus their time and effort on
    • Listen to feedback and work on the weak parts of your game (ie. prospecting, qualifying, listening, closing)
    • Take training seriously
  • Develop your sales skills with practice
    • Educating yourself is great, but take it a step further and really practice. You can do this through situational role play with your peers. Working through customer situations in a real life environment will force you to improve.
    • Practice delivering different talk tracks in the mirror. We know this sounds silly, but practice makes perfect and seeing yourself as you practice will help give you confidence. A great time to practice your “talk tracks” is in the car between appointments. Try turning your music off and work on honing in your talk tracks. By “talk tracks” we mean meeting introduction, qualifying questions, asking for the order and any other part of the sales cycle.
  • Be a sponge and keep learning
    • Learn from your experiences. Being experienced can be a MAJOR benefit, but only if you can learn from your successes and failures. Often times the greatest lessons lie in the deals you lost. Make sure you always evaluate the deals you lose and identify why you lost them and what you could have done better. This is one of the most powerful ways to improve your sales skills.

Sales training is extremely important to becoming the best salesperson you can be. Salespeople are most comfortable selling what they understand. It is critical for organizations and salespeople to focus on training their people on both general sales skills and their company’s value propositions and competitive advantages. These types of company-specific trainings build confidence (particularly in a younger sales team) and enable them to ask their prospects intuitive questions and then solve their customers’ problems with superior presentations.

We clearly feel that sales is something that can be nurtured and developed, but at the same time we recommend that sales managers and recruiters keep an eye out for the following natural characteristics from sales candidates:

  • Highly competitive
  • Strong work ethic
  • Takes to coaching and direction well
  • Ambition to improve
  • Outgoing; enjoys social interaction
  • Confident
  • Not afraid to ask uncomfortable questions

Interestingly enough, we’ve found that many of these traits are also common in athletes, and we’ve had great success in turning people with athletic backgrounds into top salespeople. A good way to further vett a candidate in an interview is to make the potential hire role play with you. Give it a try! They don’t need to be anywhere near perfect, but if they are afraid to role play or try you have your red light.