For many years people have intimated that sales and marketing is something you are either inherently good at or that you are not. If you are in sales or marketing, I’m sure you have at one time or another heard someone say “it’s a perfect job for you because you have the gift of the gab.” It’s almost as if all you need, to be a good sales person is the ability to talk a lot. I have to say this attitude has always slightly irked me and hence I have spent many years on the quest of proving that this is not the case. Hence I pose the question in the title “ Are sales and marketing people born or made?”
The answer in my humble opinion is a little bit of both because when hard work meets innate ability, a robust salesman, an almost unstoppable force of nature, is created.
Of course, learned behaviour overshadows innate ability in most walks of life and lessons can be learnt from many different places. Since I love football ( and apologies to all of you who don’t), let's take Chrstiano Ronaldo for example. The man is one of the best soccer players in the world. He wasn’t born with an innate talent that trumped all the other aspects of his success, although genetics inevitably played a part in his physique, balance, spatial awareness etc. Genetics aside, he wasn’t born knowing how to kick a soccer ball, therefore the success he has today is because he has developed his natural abilities with the right methodology. In other words, he has a solid plan and executes it well. Let’s investigate this a bit further detail.
There's a particular quote from Sir Alex Ferguson, which illustrates this phenomenon perfectly: "There's no fluke about it. I see Ronaldo practising all the time in training."
Do you think Ronaldo trains hard without thinking too much about methodology? Nope. Professionals know that just training hard isn’t the way to optimize your skills. You also need to train the right way, maximizing your strategy so you can obtain the biggest gains. Let’s take a another look at Ronaldo. According to his blog
“An important note that should be outlined before we start, is the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo is indeed a professional athlete and he's surrounded and followed closely by professional fitness coaches and expert dietitians.
The professionals have specialized soccer drills for Ronaldo to work on. All in all, Ronaldo trains three to four hours a day and his robust training plan is why he is a world-class soccer player.
From Soccer to Sales Methodology
Does the world of sports translate to sales? It most certainly does. Ronaldo is a craftsman, a person who is executing a high level plan. He doesn’t randomly or haphazardly diet, do soccer drills, or exercise. Everything is scientific. Everything is being constantly refined.
As a salesperson, you need to refine your plan too. How many sales people plan as meticulously as Ronaldo to ensure a positive outcome, then review and refine. I’ll tell you how many – the successful ones who consistently achieve whatever industry they go into.
What separates an elite salesman from a good one? My answer is methodology which is consistently implemented.
Many a great salesman have innate ability, an element which is probably overrated. Likewise, many great salesman work hard, without becoming elite craftsman like Ronaldo. You see, he understands that his time is limited. He trains 3-5 hours a day, not an unfathomable number like 10-12. So, his advantage isn’t innate ability or hours spent. It appears his secret lies in how effectively he makes use of those hours and the methodology he implements.
In conclusion, success in sales comes from combining your hard work with the right methodology. As stated earlier, I have spent the last 10 years learning from the best across a variety of industries to help me codify successful sales methodologies. As a consultant I have been able to apply what I’ve learnt to deliver some outstanding results for my clients and proven (to myself at least) that sales people are definitely more made than born.