Are Salespeople Born or Made?


The age-old question “Are salespeople born or made?” has been asked, especially by employers, since the first salesperson made the first call, which probably was before Socrates asked his first question.  The answer is both.  The born salesperson possesses two instinctive attributes others must work their butts off to develop.  First is the gift of gab.  He’s comfortable talking to anyone at any time.  He can be standing behind an attractive woman at the supermarket checkout counter and, out of the clear blue, initiate a conversation with her.  He can do this easily as tying his shoelaces.

“You’re a Pepsi gal, I see.”

She smiles, says, “Actually I buy whatever is on sale.”

“Ah, a clever woman—my favorite kind.”

Turns out she’s single, too; they walk out together and exchange cell numbers.

It’s that simple.

This attribute can be developed by anyone bold enough to practice it.  As an exercise, for thirty days push yourself to initiate as many “cold-call” conversations as possible with total strangers.  You’ll cultivate your gift of gab skills and probably meet some interesting people.  If you’re single, you’ll discover it’s a fabulous way to meet members of the opposite sex.

In addition to the gift of gab, the born salesperson possesses an emotional “radar detector,” which his less fortunate colleagues lack.  I call it the Sixth Sense.  When he sits across from his prospect, this “radar” instinctively reveals how the prospect is emotionally reacting to the presentation—through body language, facial expression, eye contact or lack of eye contact, strength of commitments, and responses to trial closes.  For 40 years I sat across from some of the toughest business people your imagination can conjure up, and rarely within the first five minutes did I not sense how the presentation was going.  Think of it as something akin to a perceptive poker player reading his opponents.

Can this faculty be assimilated, too?  Sure it can: by focusing like a sharp-eyed bald eagle on the prospect’s body language, facial expression, eye contact or lack of eye contact, strength of commitments, and responses to trial closes.  As an additional exercise for the next thirty days, when you’re engaged in conversation, pay close attention to the first three points listed above.  Watch and see as a whole new dimension of information opens up to you.  It won’t become instinctive overnight, but given enough time and experience it’ll happen.  Like anything else in life worth attaining, you must keep at it with the perseverance of Job.

If you’re a born salesperson, you instinctively know it; if you’re not, take heart: what isn’t intuitive today soon will be, if you’re determined enough to make it happen.

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