Are good salespeople born or made?
Here at Big Motoring World, it's a question we've debated many times - is it really possible to train absolutely anyone to become a great sales person? To what extent are the skills you require to sell learned, and how much are they simply innate - essentially, talents that you're born with? This is an industry where personality is so crucial - and your ability to make people like you enough to want to buy from you so fundamentally important - that it's critical to understand the extent to which these kind of skills can be improved in an individual.
It's an interesting question, and one that can have implications in lots of areas. It can affect, for example, where you focus your sales training - and your understanding of which skills you can actually improve in your existing team, and which ones you need to recruit for. We'd argue that there are a set of fundamental skills that set apart the very best salespeople, that we believe are personality traits that are so ingrained it is almost impossible to train into people who don't have them. Of course you can still be a good sales person without them, and with hard work and application even learn these skills to a certain level, but these are tough things to master if they don't come naturally to you.
- The ability to empathise.
An essential sales skill - this is basically how good you are at putting yourself in your potential customer's shoes and quickly getting a sense of their needs and how you can help. We'd argue that you can train people to ask the right questions, and even to look as if they're actively listening - but that truly being able to empathise with people in a way that can deliver a practical result (rather than just sympathising with, or worse, ignoring their needs) is an innate talent.
- The ability to have an intelligent conversation about what you’re selling
This is all about an individual's ability to learn the language of whatever industry they are selling in, to adopt it and to then apply it consistently and convincingly to a prospect's individual needs. Again, just as some people can pick up a language quickly and feel comfortable using it abroad, while others struggle to get past the 'Hello' stage, we'd say this is a skill you're born with.
- The ability to recognise what kind of customer you're dealing with, and to then draw on your experience with similar prospects to adapt your tactics accordingly
How good are you at spotting what kind of customer you're dealing with? Do you find it easy to recognise traits in potential customers that you've seen before and to then think quickly enough to be able to find the most effective pitch for them? This is a real skill, and again it's one that people seem to be born with - this kind of recall can be an incredibly powerful tool in your sales armoury - but one that is very tricky to learn from scratch. Once again, these are all skills that can be learned, but only so far – we’d argue that if you’re lacking these skills in your team then it might be time to start recruiting.