Can Anyone sell?
Can we first forget about our bad experiences?
When it comes to sales, most people would have an “opinion” about the profession and its main actors, the sales people. Sales can have such a bad rep!! So to start with, let’s refine our topic. We are talking about sales as the ethical profession in which individual have at heart to help and provide a great service in exchange of money.
So, for that matter, any business owner, any professional, you included is a salesperson. So now that we agree that we all are salespeople, let’s forget for the next 8 to 10 minutes about any of our personal bad experiences as buyers (i.e., the time we buy something we didn’t need because a salesperson too pushy, the time we were ghosted by a lovely chatty salesperson who coincidentally stop replying to our email as the minute the bank transfer had been made…).
I think we are now ready for a definition of sales. We talk about sales as a profession, keeping in mind that we are all salespeople 😉 Let’s understand sales as an umbrella term that encompasses the process of putting together an agreement between a buyer and a seller for the exchange of goods or services. On a more practical level, the process of selling involves the act of searching and finding potential buyers, contacting them, persuading them to purchase the services and last but not least, delivering the service in such a way that the buyer not only feels happy to have given you some money but also rave about our services.
How many sales methods are there?
As industries differ one from another, one could legitimately assume that the sale approach would be specific to the industry it applies to. One could therefore argue that there are as many methods to sales as there are industries. Selling training or consultation services for example have certainly nothing to do with selling luxury cars or computers. If you think along those lines, you are not on your own… but you could not be further from the truth.
The object of the sale might differ from one industry to another (training, consultancy, cars, pc). However, at the core, we are talking about one thing only: a transfer of emotion from one person, the sales person to another one, the buyer. For some people, that emotion would be attached to something qualified as positive: a gain. For others, that emotion would be related to something considered as negative: a fear. What emotions are we referring to? As we understand, that strictly depends on the buyer’s personality. It could be the excitement of gaining something or the relief of avoiding some pain.
So let’s not stress too much about the different models/method out there (Challenger Sales, Straight line persuasion, The Yes Method, LEAD method®…). Sales is sales. Does that mean that the best sales person in one industry would automatically be the best sales person in another one? The potential is there but some industry might be difficult to crack. Some are really “technicality sensitive”, no success can be expected without a deep understanding of the industry technicality. Other industries are “network sensitive”, the success depending on the quality of someone’s network. And some networks as you can imagine are harder to enter than others.
To dive deeper on the 3 conditions of a successful transition for a salesperson from one industry to another, check our other article on “a successful transition for salespeople across industries”. Keeping that caveat in mind, an excellent sales person in one industry has therefore the potential to excel in another one.
The question is then, can anyone reach that level of excellence?
This is THE Q.U.E.S.T.I.O.N, one that has been discussed for years. The infamous “nature vs nurture” debate. Before answering, let’s discuss the popular belief which is: “salespeople are born, it’s a DNA thingy”. We all remember that child in primary school, preferring selling sweets or drinks to his friends while others would be chasing a ball. We can also think about that sibling, often the youngest one able to negotiate his/her pocket money better than his older brother and sister.
If you too believe that some people are born with the gift of the gab, once again you are not on your own. You might even feel pleased to know that the “talented by nature theory” is backed up by some experts. Some claim indeed it takes some natural abilities for a person to really understand those little nuances sales required to excelling as a salesperson. At least one study supports this position. That study demonstrated that people with a certain brain type were more successful at making sales. It shows a clear bell curve of performance by brain type, with those of one particular type being far better at selling.
If this common belief, “the born salesperson” is backed up by experts, that can only mean one thing, great salespeople are born, not made. How could that be otherwise? Let’s slow down a little. Firstly, popular beliefs are just that, popular beliefs waiting to be debunked. Secondly, those experts we referred to, have only confirmed something all professionals in sales agree with: natural abilities play a role in someone’s performance. That is undeniable. They could have saved the budget for that study by questioning sales professionals, especially those training people to sell. Which leads us to our third and last point: none of those people, the layman or the expert, actually sell anything.
So let’s see what do the practitioners, those people in the trenches day in day out, have to say? They are actually quite unanimous. They all say that some people are born to sell. Those individuals could sell an ice cream to an Eskimo. But they are also quickly to add that the most successful people are not the natural born salespeople. Nope, many seasoned salespeople and sales trainer would tell you that the “heavy hitters” as we called them, those who sell the most, are those who understand their market and apply like a formula, a proven method they took the time to learn and master their craft: selling, negotiating, controlling their emotions, dealing with objections, communicating the value, understanding the buyer personality… This makes completely sense, if you think about it. It is like in any field, practice makes perfect. The more one does something, the better he/she becomes at it. The statement is certainly true for salespeople staying in the same industries. For those changing industries, as we expressed already success would require the salespeople to adapt to the technicality and the network requirements of the new industry.
This completely confirms my own experience. I started with no formal experience, literally hating the idea to be called a salesperson. I actually started sales following the advice of Joe Soto (if you know about online marketing, you will know about him, Russell Brunson, Dan Kennedy, Tai or the likes of Frank Kern). Joe gently made me realised that sales was nothing more than communicating efficiently and that it didn’t make sense for anyone, let alone a business owner not to spend some time to study it. He suggested me to have an experience in sales, I followed his advice and don’t regret for one second. That might have been the best decision I made in my professional career.
But hey it has been an intensive experience. Nearly 3 months hearing crickets. Starting with no formal experience, I didn’t expect anything else but long story cut short. 8 months later, I was in the top 3 in Europe and in the top 30 worldwide of a company counting nearly 1300 people. One could think that it was luck, that thought crossed my mind many times (impostor syndrome? That might be a topic for another article). That could have been if it had been a one-time thing but nope, I kept performing month after month. What was the secret? There is actually no secret, unless you consider commitment to study as one. I used to arrive in the office 2 or 3 hours before the opening to stud and I would leave 3, 4 sometimes 4 hours after everyone.
The results were actually so impressive that I designed and run a sales training pilot program for SDR.
So to answer and maybe put an end to the infamous question “can anyone sell? My answer is simple and unambiguous: “yes, everyone can learn sales”. I would even add this: everyone should learn sales. This is literally the one skill that transforms companies’ performance as well as individuals’ career. And to make the deal even sweeter, it does not take years to master it. All it takes: some commitment to learn and a proven methodology to follow. With more than 20 years of experience, Halifax Consulting for sure has the methodology, so if you need more information or even help, for you or your company, feel free to contact us.
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