Are great salespeople born?

Hi Carlo, thank you very much for your question “are great salespeople born?”. With billions spent on sales training programs in various industries, most companies would argue that great salespeople are developed.

I believe that great salespeople are born. These are natural communicators. I have an elder cousin who was born a great communicator. He applied for a sales position in an ice cream company many years ago. These are salespeople that are given a territory. They scour the territory with their small trucks with a freezer at the back. They go from sari-sari stores to supermarkets peddling their ice-creams. In less than a year, he became one of their top salespeople. Of course, he was provided collaterals and product orientations to pull off being at the top. He was born with great confidence and fantastic communication skill, which helped him.

However, raw sales talent still needs to be developed. It’s like finding a raw diamond. You need to chisel and polish until you get a perfectly cut diamond ring. 

However, a great sales organization needs development. There need to be clearly defined processes to ensure the right talent is recruited, trained, immersed in the company culture, coached, and given stretched goals. 

Check out recommendations from HBR on things worth considering when putting together a strong sales organization. 

  • Set a cohesive sales strategy that focuses sales effort on the right customer segments with a compelling value proposition.
  • Design a high-impact sales process for communicating and delivering value to customers.
  • Size the sales organization at a profitable investment level that provides ideal customer coverage.
  • Define a sales structure and sales roles that enable effectiveness (high sales for the effort) as well as efficiency (low cost for the effort).
  • Assign accounts to salespeople to enable good customer coverage and give all salespeople a fair chance to succeed.
  • Hire sales talent by identifying and attracting salespeople with the characteristics (innate capabilities and values) that drive success.
  • Train and coach that talent to continually develop the competencies (learned skills and knowledge) that salespeople need to add value for customers.
  • Provide data, tools and resources for enhancing sales force insight about customers and supporting the sales process.
  • Offer incentive compensation and recognition programs that encourage salespeople to work hard in pursuit of personal goals that align with company goals.
  • Set sales force goals that are challenging, fair, and well-understood by the sales force.
  • Manage performance by engaging a team of first line sales managers who can effectively direct sales activity and keep the sales force on course.
  • Create and sustain a sales culture of accountability, achievement and ethics.

Thank you very much for your question, Carlo. Thinking about the answer was quite interesting. Please feel free to keep sending in your voice questions.

P.S. – Please see below the link to the full article from HBR on ‘Silver Bullets won’t fix your sales force’.

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