Rise Performance Group

Death of Success: 6 Damaging Behaviors Salespeople Should Avoid

By Jaylyn Schumpert

“Salespeople are born, not made”- true or false statement?

According to a Harvard Business Review article by Steve W. Martin, 70 percent of top salespeople are born with natural instincts that make them successful, and the other 30 percent are self-made and must learn to be successful without natural sales instincts. Martin goes on to state that for every 100 people who enter into a sales job without natural sales traits, 40 percent will fail or quit, 40 percent will perform at an average level, and only 20 percent will perform at an above average level.

Natural instincts or not, born salesperson or self-made salesperson, success comes down to one thing…how much do you want it? Successful salespeople are successful because they work continually on eliminating the most common reasons for failure. When a sales person fails or quits it can normally be attributed to one or more of the following damaging behaviors:

  1. Lack of desire or enthusiasm
    A sales person must love what they do and make sure that it shows in their actions. If the thought of making a sale doesn’t excite a sales person then they are in the wrong profession and will not be successful. Salespeople need to constantly remind themselves why they love selling and make a point to celebrate wins.
  2. Bad attitude
    Professional salespeople face adversity every day. To be successful they must have an unshakeable belief in themselves or at the very least the desire to work on developing such self-belief every day of their lives. Sales people should use tools, such as assessments, to find out what motivates them and what they need to do for development. They can then use this information to remain positive and overcome adversity.
  3. Failure to create a plan
    As the saying goes, “Fail to plan and you plan to fail.” There are not enough hours in a day for a sales person to do all they need to do for success unless they plan well. To be successful, sales people need to develop a clear, activity-based plan that includes the activities required to achieve their objectives.
  4. Poor sales skills
    There are some basic sales skills so essential to success that even salespeople with natural instincts will not get anywhere without them. Salespeople should use skills tests to determine their skill level and then attend sales workshops, webinars, conferences, and training programs to improve their skills. Improving basic selling skills could be what gives a salesperson an advantage over his or her competition.
  5. Failure to learn continually
    Successful salespeople are constantly learning new things. With almost everyone having a smartphone or tablet, there is no excuse for not being up-to-date with the latest sales tips and tricks. To stay ahead in the game, salespeople should read, or listen to, at least one new sales book per month, watch videos of other sales people in action, or join sales groups via social media.
  6. Not working hard or smart enough
    Being a successful salesperson requires long hours and working on days that people in non-sales positions are off. To get the most return on their investment of time and effort, the best sales reps work smart. Salespeople should periodically log everything they do over a week and then evaluate the log to find inefficiencies and time burners.

Although many salespeople are gifted with natural talents, the truth is whether a salesperson is natural-born or self-made there are some behaviors that can make or break their success. To be successful, salespeople must be enthusiastic about their job, they must have a positive attitude, they must plan accordingly, they must hone in their sales skills, they must continually increase their knowledge, and they must work smart as well as hard.

Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman, not the attitude of the prospect.
William Clement Stone

What is your opinion on the saying ‘salespeople are born, not made’? Can you provide any additional words of advice on how to become a successful salesperson?

0 thoughts on “Death of Success: 6 Damaging Behaviors Salespeople Should Avoid”

  1. When I worked in the Sales Training industry for Huthwaite, one of the most horrifying moments I encountered was when a CEO said in a meeting (to kick of a project no less) that sales people are born and not made. I wanted to kick my client (Sales VP) under the table for not giving me the heads up this was coming. I agree – it is an interesting aspect.

    I have written quite a lot about relevant personality traits effecting the success of sales people – and indeed working in the Industrial Psychology industry for some time. I too read Steve Martin’s articles and it didn’t really change my opinion that much.

    In short, I believe that yes, people can be born with natural charisma (and how you define this is a topic for another day) which cannot be trained. And this charisma can have a huge impact on how your customers and clients view you. However, as you point out above, even non-charasmatic sales reps can improve their chances of being successful by working hard or smart at key fundamentals such as planning, improving sales skills and adopting the right kind of attitude. Good post.

    I would welcome your comments too on my Sales Performance Improvement Blog (www.mattgoffblog.wordpress.com).

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