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Are Sales People Born or Made?

9 March 2012 4 Comments

From December 1st, 2011 until February 15, 2012 I’ve surveyed readers of my blog by asking only one question: “Are Sales People Born or Made?” Results will surprise you!

From 263 people who participated in this survey, 57% of voters said that sales people are trained, 24% don’t care if sales person knows how to sell, and only 19% think that sales people are born that way.

I believe that the discussion that salespeople are born and not made is mainly false. The element of falsity lies in the fact that those who make the statement forget that a strong personality can be developed. This would be a sorry place if people believe that it is possible to improve in knowledge by study and impossible to improve personality and character in the same way. You may broaden and deepen your inner self just as you may add to your knowledge or to your bank account.

  • Can we honestly say that you can learn about your products or services and increase your knowledge of them, but that it is impossible for you to increase your understanding of yourself?
  • Can we say that you can analyze your customer’s state of mind and learn to understand it, but not be able to increase your own power to win the customer’s mind over to yourself?

The fact is that personality, like everything else in the world, is not a vague, intangible, indescribable, undefinable, nebulous, hazy attribute of a person, but is in truth a definite and positive factor of a person’s being that is capable of being improved by direct and practical methods. There is no more absurd and dangerous opinion for the sales person to have than that a good personality is purely a “gift” in the sense that it cannot be acquired.

The idea that you can learn only by experience is an especially absurd and dangerous idea when applied to character building. The whole history of the world’s advancement disproves it, for we are able to advance beyond what others have accomplished by learning what they know, and making our start from that point. That is the purpose of reading sales books, and many sales authors would agree that they are writing books to improve other people’s situation. If not, what is the purpose of writing (and reading) books?

You always need training. A great salesperson is always trying to make him or herself better.

More research about this topic is done by my dear colleagues from UK (http://www.phoenix-training.co.uk) – take a look at the image below, or you can download it here: http://www.alenmajer.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/poll-blog.jpg



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  • Marc Zazeela


    Interesting topic. In my opinion, it is a little of both. I think there are some personalities that would never make successful sales people and others who are naturals. I believe in lots of maybe’s as opposed to hard and fast or black and white issues.

    Can someone who is painfully shy be trained? Sure. And, they might be successful because it would be naturally easy for them to shut up and listen.

    Is the extrovert going to be a good sales person? Maybe. It would require training as well and lots of will power for them to keep quiet.

    I think it is more about desire to be a sales person. If you want to, you can. Some folks will take to it more readily than others but most people can be trained.


  • Thanks for putting this out Alen;) I believe in continuous learning as the key to business success. Improvement cannot occur without the acquisition of new knowledge and skills through learning. All the best.

  • Agree with you Marc. Desire is one factor. No matter how good you are in sales but if you have no desire, you will go nowhere.

    Sales is not just about selling, it is a lot more. It is a evolving with time and in order to keep up with it, constant learning is needed. So, if you have no desire you will eventually get tired of it.

  • Rich Fleischer

    Nice job!! Alot also depends on what you sell and how much perceived risk is placed on the product by the consumer. There are some personality traits that help people become good at sales. It might be DNA but more likely comes from learning or conditioning at a young age. For long haul success, and big dollar sales, learning must take place as the sales landscape is much more competitive and political. Training and how to work within a team are necessary to succeed.