The Natural Born Salesperson: Stuff of Legend?

“She’s born with it.”

“It’s just a knack he has.”

Have you ever heard the above in reference to a superlative salesperson? More importantly, have you heard it from a not-so-stellar salesperson when explaining why a colleague constantly outperforms them? Chances are, you have, and might have wondered if there is some truth to these statements.

The Truth about the Natural Born Salesperson

Most people associate the term “natural born salesperson” with those who are outgoing or “go getters.” However, the subject of Sales has nothing to do with it — this personality type would probably do well in any sort of job that involved persuasive communication, such as attorneys, managers, and politicians.

The truth, however, is that this doesn’t mean they were born this way. People can learn to become outgoing. Forbes writer Heidi Grant Halvorson makes a good point about this when she says that “it’s important to not assume that personality traits = innate ability.  Personalities can and do change as a result of our efforts and experiences.  You aren’t ‘stuck’ as you are.”

One thing to note is that while people can change, most maintain their personality traits for many years. A go-getter or leader tends to stay that way for a while, as does a very shy person. And, let’s face it, some people will never change. For sales managers and executives, these facts open the door to sales improvement, using a special tool called a sales assessment questionnaire.

Sales Assessment Questionnaires: Put Your People in the Right Roles

Potential hires and current employees with an aptitude for selling are best discovered through sales assessment questionnaires, which allow you to:

  • Train the right people: Assessments will illuminate who will best benefit from sales training, preventing unsuitable people from wasting company resources.
  • Place people in the proper roles: An extrovert might be miserable tied to a desk all day doing inside sales, while an introvert might freeze when having to present in a C-level conference room. Testing identifies each type so you can place them properly for better performance.
  • Reduce turnover: Avoid hiring someone with a poor attitude towards sales in the first place, eliminating the need to fire them later.
  • Identify future superstars: Spotting those who can become stellar performers early allows you to direct more resources towards helping them build their books of business. As 94 percent of goods and services in the US were sold by just the top four percent of salespeople, it is a smart move to develop these superstars, or keep them loyal if you already have them but didn’t know it (some can be held back by ill-conceived policies).

To sum up, while the natural born salesperson is somewhat of a myth, the fact remains that some people are better suited to sales than others at any given time. By assessing every potential and existing sales employee, these types can be identified and nurtured to fully realize their potential — and take your sales figures to the stratosphere.


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