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The eternal sales question

Article by The YinYang of Sales

Is effective sales an art or a science? Is it persuasion or domination? Is it a natural ability or a learned skill? Are great sales people born or created?

Can anyone become a great salesperson or are there specific traits and competencies that top performers possess? And if so, what are those competencies?

Of course, while there is no definitive answer to the questions above, it is our opinion that the answer is, “All of the above, but to different degrees”.

Is effective sales an art or a science?

There certainly is an art to sales, a personal flair, an edge, a personality. And then of course, there is the science. For example, 50 cold calls will result in 10 sales meetings which will result in four quotes and ultimately, one sale. When these two are combined properly, 1 + 1 = 5. There is nothing worse for a prospect than a boring presentation and nothing worse for a sales manager than a salesperson who refuses to do the numbers.

Is it persuasion or domination?

There is no doubt that persuasion is important in an effective sales presentation. Persuasion is such a beautiful art. A well-constructed pitch and sales process will ensure more closed deals.

But just how much domination is right, if any? Some may argue that NO domination is ever required and that is indeed a virtuous stance. The reality is that in a sale there is one winner and everyone else loses. There is an element of war in winning a tender. Strategizing a pitch to highlight your value is an act of control. Knowing your competitions weaknesses and your strengths, and highlighting them to a customer is an act of power. The bottom line is that major brands dominate their market, and create barriers to entry for competitors. As tasteless as it may seem at face value, there is an element of war in business. To win means to beat everyone else and great salespeople often have a drive to do exactly that.

Is it a natural ability or a learned skill?

It would seem that the best salespeople on earth are natural salespeople. They seem to have simply been born with the ability to sell and they generally migrate naturally to a career in sales. On the other hand, there are millions of salespeople around the world who would not consider themselves to be ‘natural’ salespeople. They have worked hard to learn the skills and are top class. Anyone who has owned a business, run a business or held a position as sales manager in a business, will know that there are some people that you simply cannot teach how to sell.

Can anyone become a great salesperson or are there specific traits and competencies that top performers possess? And if so, what are those competencies?

Yes, there are some very specific traits and competencies that we believe are necessary to be a great salesperson. We suggest you test for them when employing.

They are:

  • Persistence,
  • Confidence,
  • Persuasiveness,
  • Good speaking skills and grammar.
  • Negotiation skills,
  • Positive self-image,
  • Being able to manage rejection,
  • Loving the phone,
  • Enjoying cold calling,
  • Being good at prospecting,
  • Goal oriented,
  • Self-reliant,
  • Having healthy relationship with money,
  • Valuing building wealth,
  • Having ability to build rapport,
  • And having a genuine desire to help,

We understand that these may not be what you expected but rest assured, there is much wisdom behind this.

Here is the conundrum for many small and medium businesses.  Great salespeople are sought after, paid big salaries and already have positions in good companies. It is incredibly difficult to find great salespeople who produce results quickly.

Our advice is to treat your good salespeople like gold. Don’t lose them. Find a reputable personnel agency with a track record of placing good salespeople. Make sure your sales management is top notch. All salespeople need to be managed.

The YinYang of Sales is a proud Member of the NSBC.