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Do you have the right personality for sales?

Of all the topics I have written about over the years, none gets more of a reaction than the question of sales personality. Whether it is in my blog, on LinkedIn, or in discussions around my books, no subject around sales and selling seems to be more provocative.

But here is the problem… It is a thoroughly misguided question.

If the goal of asking it is to learn if a certain person will be good at selling, or what a certain person needs to do to get better at selling, then chasing an answer to questions related to personality are completely off target, and entirely useless.

How can that be? Great salespeople always seem to be….

OK – hold it right there!

How many successful salespeople do you know? Think about that for a second. If you don’t know any, think of some famous examples:

– Steve Jobs
– Bill Gates
– Warren Buffet
– Seth Godin
– Richard Branson

Not all salespeople by trade, but they all are famous for successfully selling their ideas.

Do they all have the same personality? Not even close. What about the salespeople you know? Probably a mixed bunch there too.

Some are funny, some shy, some nerdy, some intellectual, some very blue collar. Some joke around, some are deadly serious.

None of these factors – or elements of personality – correlate to sales success.

So what does?

To answer the question, you need to look at what sales really is. Success in sales comes from thoroughly knowing the solution you offer, listening to the needs, desires and/or problems of the prospective customer, and effectively matching the two.

Being successful at that requires SKILLS, not a particular personality. But aren’t those skills based on personality? Absolutely not. Then what are those skills?

Intelligence, empathy, listening, communication, persistence, positive mental attitude, and many more, in many combinations.

Sales is a skill set that can be learned and improved over time, and with effort. Anyone who says that sales is driven by personalty doesn’t understand what sales really is, and isn’t worth listening to if your goal is to try to improve, or to find, manage and develop sales talent.
David Masover has over twenty years of business-to-business sales experience, including more than ten years in sales management, training, and consulting. He has consulted and negotiated in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Masover is co-founder of Branders.com, the world’s largest online seller of promotional products, and the author of “Mastering Your Sales Process” and “Managing the Sales Process” which are available on Amazon. David is currently engaged in private sales consulting.

– what traits you do feel are important to be developed in salespeople?