Are there Natural Born Sales People?
Interesting title I know. But it occurred to me this morning that Selling new sales techniques is a huge business. It’s right up there with selling motivation. Unfortunately life is never that easy. It would be an easy world to live in if you could hand everyone a book and it would fix them. Interestingly, you can put a person through the most advanced sales training ever developed and they will never achieve top-producer status. On the other hand, I can take a fresh-faced kid out of high school and put him on a phone after a day of training and he can achieve top salesperson in his first month. Just as not everyone was born with the talent to become an NBA all-star, it seems that not everyone was born to be a salesperson. Now I have heard arguments on both sides. Sales people are made, not born, and; Sales people are born, not made. But the fact remains, some flourish at sales and some don’t. Why is this? What character traits do they share?
Who am I?
First, let me share my personal experience. As soon as I graduated high school I went into the Marine Corps as a basic infantryman. I earned the GI bill and as soon as I got out after my 4 year tour I started working a telecommunications job and went to school full-time. At that time my only post-high school education consisted of hiking long distances with a lot of weight, running, shooting and drinking. Notice I didn’t say sales training. I didn’t even know who Zig Ziglar was. I had never read a self-improvement or sales training book in my life. My first sales job was selling CD club memberships over the phone. For readers who were born after 1988, we used to have CD clubs, this is before I tunes and such. I started out as most sales people do by reading mundanely through an assigned script. Then I realized something. Most of the other sales people ages 16-22 mostly, weren’t using the script verbatim. As a matter of fact some were down right lying to the customers. It was at that moment I remembered a phrase my Dad repeatedly told me “In sales, you don’t lie, ever, if you want a career you need to always be honest.” So that day I re-wrote the intro to my script and became the top salesperson every month until I went to a higher paying job. This isn’t to say that scripts aren’t good. Most are great, but you need to believe in them. But more importantly YOU need to be good. YOU need to believe in what you are doing and know that it is beneficial to the customer. You see, I researched the membership costs and determined how many CD’s a person would need to buy per year to make it worth their while. That number was four. A person who bought four or more CD’s a year would benefit from our membership. No one told me to figure that out. I figured it out by being honest with myself and the customer. I saw it as my duty to help all the people out there who were buying more than four CD’s per year and tell them about how much money they could be saving. More importantly, I would not sell the membership to people that it would not benefit. I couldn’t wait to get people on the phone and use my new intro “ Hello Sir, this is ________ with (CD Membership Company), I know your time is valuable so I need to ask you one question to see if I have something that benefits you and will determine whether or not we continue with this conversation. Do you buy at least 4 CD’s a year?”
If they said “yes!” then I said “ Great! Because if you said no there would have been no benefit for you and I would have ended the call.”
This introduction did a few things. First and most importantly, it built trust. Right off the bat I am asking a very simple qualifying question and showing the customer that I sincerely want to find out if my product benefits them. Secondly, I am communicating the benefit in the beginning of the call. Thirdly, I am not sounding desperate. I am a professional who values my time and my potential customer’s time.
So how did this occur? Why was I able to become the Top-producing salesperson within one month? If I told you I had all the answers I would be lying. Truth be told, I don’t know. Sure, I had a lot of enthusiasm. But a lot of people do. What made me and others like me, top sales people with not extensive sales training?
Ok, I know I said I didn’t know but I do think there are some basic character traits that most top-performing sales people have. First, is accountability. You have to be accountable to yourself. This goes beyond being able to admit you aren’t perfect. You have to take responsibility for where you are in life and be aware of the habits that got you there. Two, you have to have confidence and believe in what you are doing. If you lose confidence in your product or management it will chip at your morale until you resemble an ancient nose-less greek statue. Then, who is going to hire you…without a nose? If you don’t believe in the company or product ….egress!!! Leave! Get outta dodge! I know you are afraid you will not find anything else, but you will. Remember, if God brought you to it, he will bring you through it. Be humble, and ask for help. Life isn’t all paved, straight flat roads. Sometimes you hit a mud puddle. You ever notice what happens when a truck is stuck in the mud? In a blink of an eye everyone wants to help. For some reason, men will almost fight other men to help another man out of a mud pit. They have had that towing winch on their Dodge Turbo Diesel for 3 years and can’t wait to use it.
There have been thousands of books written on improving self-confidence, sales techniques, motivation, building better habits etc. I am not saying that all of these books are a waste of time or that they can’t be inspiring. But they are not nearly as effective until you decide to change the way you think. If you find yourself being negative and blaming others for your failures, then you will never own your victories. I had a team member whose outlook on life was so bad that he refused to take responsibility for his success because it would then mean he would also have to take responsibility for his failure. What a sad existence. No accountability means no confidence. I mean real confidence, not the fake douche confidence you see in people every day. If you can’t look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you believe in what you are doing and you believe in the ethics and integrity of your employer then you will be un-satisfied with your job and eventually your life.
So today, take some time. No books, no kids, no tv. Make some time for yourself and look within. Go stare at the ocean, or a Lake. Just be with yourself and think about where you are and who you are.
“Feel great, act great and approve of yourself.” - Tea bag