Are Top Sales People Born or Bred?
Do you have responsibility for hiring, training and developing sales talent, whether that’s Sales Directors, Client Directors, new business Sales Executives or Account Managers? Regardless of which aspect of the Sales & Marketing function you hire for, what are your thoughts on whether “Top Sales Talent” is born or bred?
I turned to three people whose opinions I respect and who devote the majority of their time working with sales leaders and sales professionals. I asked then what they thought. Daryl Williams, founder and Managing Director of VadarMoss. Kim Jackson, Principal Consultant at VadarMoss and Stefan Powell, Director of Pinion Performance, Sales Development Specialist, Executive Performance Coach and Trainer.
The Headhunters View:
Headhunters who specialise in helping organisations find and hire “Top Sales Talent” talk and meet with sales people every day. It’s their job to be able to spot “Top Sales Talent” they themselves typically have strong and successful backgrounds in sales and sales management prior to embarking on careers as Headhunters. Daryl and Kim are are in a great position to offer some insight into whether top sales people are born or bred.
Daryl has over 27 years sales and sales management experience under her belt. During the past 17 years Daryl has developed an extensive network of sales professionals within the financial technology and outsourcing industry. Daryl has helped her clients identify, engage and hire hundreds of top sales people, in terms of knowing what sales talent looks like there are none better qualified. I asked Daryl whether she thought “Top Sales Talent” was born or bred? Daryl said, “I think salespeople are born. There is a certain personality that lends itself to being in a sales role. You can be trained to finesse your skills but the fundamental drive for success has to be there. You have to be competitive, be able to take the hard knocks, celebrate wins and enjoy the roller-coaster that is sales. I have always found the best salespeople are those with something to prove, either financially, to themselves, family or others.”
Kim Jackson joined VadarMoss two years ago and has quickly built a reputation for spotting sales talent. Like Daryl, Kim has a successful background in sales and sales management in the financial technology sector prior to joining VadarMoss. This is what Kim had to say on the subject. “I generally agree with what Daryl says although I think that the greatest sales people are both born and bred. The best sales people I know are naturally confident, flourish in situations where they can talk and meet with new people, are good at building and maintaining relationships are inquisitive (ask a lot of questions) and are tenacious in character. This combined with some fine honing in the form of training, mentoring and guidance allow them to utilise these skills to their best ability in a sales environment. Not sure if it’s related but most of the best sales people like to work hard and play harder.”
The Sales Development Specialists View:
Here’s what he had to say; “I have to say that I agree with both Daryl and Kim. In my experience truly successful sellers can be born, but most certainly must also be bred. In equal measure I have seen those traditionally considered to be born sellers succeed and ‘fail’. Success has been achieved by utilising the ‘born’ sellers confidence, tenacity and comfort to promote their product or service, whilst ‘failure’ can be observed where they have not been developed or ‘bred’ to ask the questions that enable the customer to fully identify what they want and need. Here, a perceived lack of real understanding and empathy means that the customer may feel that the ‘born seller’ hasn’t built a solid foundation of trust upon which they are happy to be presented to and indeed ‘asked for the business’.
Equally, I have seen those that would not be considered ‘born sellers’ succeed as a result of their desire to build trust and openness with their customers, asking insightful questions and seeking to really get to the heart of the matter before they feel confident to even approach closing. Here, the more amiable seller reassures the customer that they truly have their best interests at heart and this trust and understanding means that a customer may be more ready to purchase a solution they feel confident is tailored to their individual needs. In this situation, and opposite to the ‘born seller’, whilst they have created a fantastic platform for presentation and closing the sale, they may ‘fail’ as a result of a lack of confidence or concern at appearing to be ‘pushy’ or ‘selling’, failing to act on buying signals or close the sale.
For me, this variation, presents sales leaders (often successful ‘born’ sellers in their own right) with a fantastic opportunity to ensure that they ‘breed’ a successful sales force, by clearly articulating what an effective and efficient sales interaction, looks, sounds and feels like including the strengths of both types of seller. For me, the role of an effective sales leader is to ensure that they develop their existing sales team to deliver this and, when recruiting, identify those recruits that have the desire and openness to be moulded and developed to become ‘all rounders’ and not just the carbon copy ‘born’ seller that has traditionally been recruited; succeeding but not necessarily reaching their potential.”
Read Stefan’s full blog on “Are top sellers born or bred?” CLICK HERE.
So there you have it three over lapping opinions and views, what do you think? No matter which side of the fence you fall, it goes without saying that the effective recruitment and ongoing quality development of your sales leaders and sales force will reap its rewards, particularly in a climate of discerning and even more than ever ‘value focused’ purchasers.