Personality vs Technique – are you a born sales genius?

Certain behavioral traits are often said to be characteristics for a successful sales person. But are those traits, like assertiveness or flexibility or even the innate desire to be an achiever, a guarantee for success? Could those be learned or are there “born” sales people?

We can all agree that a professional in the sales industry should be a people person and enjoy the challenge of negotiation and relationship building. But can other traits be learned to a degree where success will naturally follow?

According to the Harvard Business Review, there are seven personality traits that top sales people display: modesty, conscientiousness, achievement orientation, curiosity, lack of gregariousness, lack of discouragement and lack of self-consciousness.

But, can you learn to become an excellent sales person?

Do you enjoy a challenge? Besides a financial reward, a good sales professional should always enjoy the hunt and challenge to find the audience, interact with potential customers and also close a deal. Are you really good at planning? Thinking one step ahead and planning the next steps within the sales process is a technique that can be learned – if the person enjoys the challenge. All while following through and sticking to tight deadlines along the way.

Which sales techniques are used will likely depend on the industry or branch and whether it is B2B or B2C sales.

Nonetheless, some techniques are independent of the industry. Investopedia.com, for example, lists perceived scarcity as a very popular factor in choosing a sales technique. Or the discounted markup, which allows the sales person to offer a very convincing discount on the product or service.

Corporatevision.com mentions points like “making the customer the hero” as well as using 3D props in a presentation as highly successful sales techniques. Those are all certainly available through training and accessible to anyone interested in becoming a good sales person.

Relationship selling, on the other hand, probably requires the ability to develop a deep personal relationship with the potential customer and this would require the personality trait that naturally seeks out personal relationships. It requires a high level of interest in people in order to make a customer feel special from the first contact and immediately note their desires not just needs. Problem solving skills, on the contrary, can be learned and acquired by anyone interested to communicate and negotiate better.

While there are many different views on which is more important, personality or technique, one ability stands out among all views:

Flexibility! The ability to adjust from person to person, from a tight deadline to a process that involves many steps over a longer period of time or to be flexible and adjust to the situation presented with spontaneously. Demanding situations can arise very quickly and the flexibility to adapt just as fast will likely determine the success.

Maybe different traits are more important for certain industries. Some products or services might be highly based on hard facts and the emotional connection to the customer is not as important. Other industries base their products and services on the emotional connection to the customer.

Regardless of the debate if personality traits or learned techniques are the decisive factor for success – training, sales coaching and mentoring with highly specialized professionals in the field can promote and maximize the success.

Ultimately, the question which is more important to be a successful sales professional, personality traits or acquired technique, might not have one single answer. Commitment, consistency and a love for what you are doing, as well as your surrounding and the current sales trends are probably only a few of many more deciding factors. Times change, trends change, technology and technique change as well – your personality likely will not change.

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