|July 2, 2023
Everybody is a salesperson.
At some point, we all must persuade others that the products or services we can provide will lead to a better life.
This goes for anyone who earns money: from carpenters and doctors to teachers and engineers.
Selling for a living is an honourable and respectable occupation that plays a significant role in the economy and in our daily lives. Without it, we would not enjoy many of the luxuries we often take for granted.
The art of selling has been practised for centuries. It was used by the Phoenicians and Greeks as they sailed the Mediterranean in search of buyers for their oils and perfumes.
I often see executives and business owners, keen to improve their sales performance, make the mistake of trying to find a ‘born’ salesperson.
Over time, most discover that searching for the ‘born’ salesperson is a fruitless exercise; no such person exists.
The simple fact is that effective salespeople are made, not born. They develop selling skills and are moulded and trained in sales techniques.
They come from a variety of backgrounds. They might have educational qualifications or no qualifications at all.
Selling skills are acquired skills that can be developed, at least to some degree, by anyone. When professionals develop their capabilities in the art of selling, they are often said to be ‘born’ salespeople, with natural talent.
They have so thoroughly mastered the sales process and are having so much fun that they seem to have a natural ability. Such skilled sales professionals, however, are no more born to their profession than are top athletes, doctors or lawyers.
Top professionals acquire their skills through studying, reading books and attending seminars. They learn about the tools and techniques of selling from coaching and by observing other selling professionals.
Of course, the best teacher is on-the-job training, where they perform sales tasks under the guidance of an experienced, trained professional who provides constructive help to replace fear with confidence and inaction with action.
Top professionals reach the top by consistently practising the fundamentals – the five Ps of selling:
Positioning, by clearly stating who you work with and the solutions you provide
Packaging your expertise, verbally and in writing
Promotion, to attract your ideal clients
Persuasion, allowing you to convert prospects into clients
Performance, which means delivering results and generating referrals.
I’m often asked to conduct training and development programs to develop top professionals quickly. Although the idea sounds good, in reality, training cannot be accomplished quickly, any more than one can become a doctor, lawyer, or dentist quickly.
Selling is a learned skill like any other; your abilities will improve if you constantly practise the fundamentals of selling techniques.
Of course, some professionals will develop into better salespeople than others, and skill levels will vary, as they do in all other professions.
Top professionals are made, developed and moulded; they are not born. Selling skills are learned skills and almost anyone can sharpen their skills through constant practice in the fundamentals.
If you understand and accept the fact that no one is born to sell and that it can take several years to become a top professional, you will realise that almost anyone is capable of improving sales skills.
Even if you have never considered yourself a salesperson, you can sharpen your selling skills, and, over time, you might just become a top performer – one of those so-called ‘born’ salespeople.