Are great sales people created or born?


Many people ask this question of sales people- are they created or born? We all know of colleagues or have heard someone say, “Wow – they are a born sales person”.

We believe that being a great sales person is a learnt skill, a craft you can practice and perfect. Outlined below are ten top tips for sellers to apply a systematic approach to honing the skills needed to be great. In our experience leading large organisations over multiple countries and thousands of sales people, we have found these critical success factors for being a great salesperson.

Building these skills starts by focusing on your “house”. Imagine building a typical house. One starts by building the foundations, then core structure and finally you put on the roof.

The foundation is about who you are and having the right attitude. The core structure is what you need to do, the hard work to get the sale. And finally, the roof is the finishing touch to ensure the foundations you have laid and the hard work building the structure pays off with closing the sale, maintaining the link with your customer and with time improving the strength of the bonds between you and your customer.


The foundation:


  1. It is in your eyes

Desire and attitude is almost more important than skill. How hungry are you for success (yours and your client’s?). This is not about being a “hunter” or “farmer”. It is ‘sales intelligence’- an awareness of self and client to adapt to the right context at the right time to meet client needs and then deliver on it. The most successful sellers want the sale more than their competition.

  1. Picture your success

Paint the picture of what you want to achieve and focus on the feeling it will give you when you achieve it. You will achieve small rewards daily but you will have big achievements over the long-term. Picture this success and then put in the work to get there.

  1. Believe in yourself

There is no getting around this – focus, hard work and discipline are critical elements to success. If you have the desire and attitude and a clear picture of success – then focussing and getting started ensures a strong foundation to success.


The Core Structure:


  1. Listen as much as you talk

Active listening and curiosity about your customer and their circumstances is key to understanding their deeper needs and not just what they think they want. Ask open-ended questions to gather as much information about their needs as possible. Ask for more than data and facts – engage in how they feel about critical issues.

  1. Body language

The way you come across has a massive impact. Confidence is infectious and shows you believe in what you are selling. Be unconditionally focused on your customer – show them you love what you do.

  1. Manage your time

Knowing when to stop and not wasting your customer’s or your own time when it is clear they do not have a need or are not yet ready to buy will save you time and energy. Take time to prepare for sales meetings by gathering as much available information about your customer as possible. Take the time to understand your closing ratios, lead status and where to focus your energy.


The roof:


  1. Opportunities are everywhere

Look for opportunities 24/7; friends, family, complaints, everything is an opportunity.

  1. Ask, ask, and ask

The more times you approach people and ask for business the more successful you will be. The best sellers get rejected more than anyone else. Learn to detach yourself from rejection. Learn from why your customer said “no” – in most cases it may not be about you. Many things impact a client’s decision making process.

  1. Closing the sale is what matters

Closure is critical to success; all the leads and discussions mean nothing if you cannot close.

  1. be grateful

Always thank customers for business and the referrals that they give. Also thank those who do not do business with you because you never know when they may come back. Politeness costs nothing and means everything.



So in conclusion, if you follow these simple lessons you can learn to be a great sales person. Give them a try… You don’t have to be born a sales person, it’s a skill you can teach and learn.

Peter Vickery: Sales and Service Director at Standard Bank, in collaboration with Deon Greyling: Senior Vice President at BTS & Euvin Naidoo: Head of Financial Institutions- Africa, Thomson Reuters


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