Nature Versus Nurture in Selling

It often comes up in discussions about how great salespeople are developed. Are they born with the required traits or can they be developed? Whatever the answer, there is consensus that great salespeople need certain personal attributes, behavior and knowledge.

We suggest that when hiring salespeople, regardless of what the position is or the skills required candidates must demonstrate proficiency in some critical interpersonal behaviors.

Most of these qualities can be discovered in well-planned and focused interviews. When we look hire salespeople, these are the fundamental we look for:

Self Esteem
Confidence is an absolute requirement for salespeople. Without it, it is very difficult for sellers to convince buyers to make new and sometimes difficult changes

Listen vs. Talk
This is simple. Great salespeople are great listeners. They let their customers do most of the talking.

Ask vs. Tell
Customers need and want to learn new things to help them in their business. This is done by
considerate and thoughtful questioning. Customers do not want to be preached or lectured to.

Open vs. Closed
Businesses processes, technology and attitudes are constantly changing. Salespeople must be open to new ideas. If they can’t embrace new realities in business, they will be “left in the dust”.

Positive vs. Negative
No one wants to do business with a sourpuss. Optimism and a positive attitude go very far in building and developing personal and business relationships.

Vulnerable vs. Super Rep
In a complex and changing world, no individual knows everything. Salespeople who admit they do not have an answer and quickly gain information get respect from their customers.

Naturally, a demonstration of past performance, sales skills, knowledge, and business acumen are important areas to probe in making a hiring decision. But it there are serious gaps in the qualities listed above, it is doubtful that training and coaching will fix them.

Joe Rickard