Are the generic qualities/personality of a sales professional something that can be learned/achieved, or is it something only some people are born with? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Many of the skills that salespeople need can be taught. Not only that, but they should be taught, starting at a young age. That's because everyone has to sell at some point. We "sell" ourselves and our ideas when we go in for job interviews, take part in debates, seek funding or support for projects or startups, or in any other way try to convince people to do what we want them to do.
So while there are officially about sales professionals in the United States, unofficially we are, at times, all in sales.
Unfortunately, not enough educational institutions, even , teach the skills or qualities to excel at sales. The lack of formal education in this field leaves many who enter it having no idea how to do it well. So they do a poor job which, in turn, leads to disappointing results for them and bad experiences for consumers. It's no wonder sales is so often portrayed negatively in movies and TV shows.
The solution is to start early. Children should learn basic sales skills. They're often already . Let's help them hone those skills.
One perfect opportunity for this is when they're assigned to sell things for a school fundraiser, sports team or club. It would be a great time for these organizations to bring in sales experts to teach kids tricks of the trade.
I realized this when had to sell Girl Scout cookies door-to-door. After seeing her struggle at first, I began teaching her things that I teach professionals in sales training. We practiced her pitch to make sure she had a strong introduction, clear value proposition and powerful call to action that she could deliver, all in a short period of time. By the time she got to the fourth house, she had the delivery nailed.
We also discussed how to handle customer objections proactively. We knew the main objection would be customers saying they already bought from someone else. So she was all prepared to follow that with, "Did you know you can freeze them, so you can have them in the summer when you can't get them anymore?"
I taught her to always be on the lookout for opportunities as well. Soon, she sold some boxes to a guy on a bike, a kid walking by, and our dry cleaner. And we got creative with multiple channels. She put together a brief sharing reasons people should buy Girl Scout cookies. (She even wore her favorite wig for it, one that she says helps give her confidence.)
We worked on setting goals, taking an overall figure we were aiming for and then breaking it down to a target number of cookie boxes to sell per hour. Throughout the process, I did my best to keep it fun.
I'm happy to say my little girl is now the top seller of Girl Scout cookies in our town, two years running. This experience inspired me to a children's book, I Want to Be in Sales When I Grow Up, to get kids excited about selling -- and to help them understand that good salespeople have skills and qualities they can and should admire.
All that said, there also are some traits the best salespeople embody that cannot be taught.
One of these is passion. I worked for Jack Welch to help him get his online MBA program off the ground. Since he talks and writes so much about passion, I once asked him, "How do you instill passion in other people?"
"You can't," he told me "You have to hire passion."
I've come to see that the same is true for drive and, most important of all, integrity. Salespeople should always be trustworthy, and always pull through for the customer. The best sales representatives are the most driven, passionate, trustworthy workers I've ever seen.
While these traits can't be taught, they can be encouraged. Most children have these qualities. We should excite kids about selling at an early age and help them see why it can be a rewarding career. If we do, then the industries of the future will be filled with salespeople who embody the best qualities, both learned and innate.
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