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The Recipe for Success in Sales

The ‘recipe for success’ in sales is a complex amalgam of skills and personal qualities. Whilst it varies widely between different sales roles, each ingredient can be broadly described as either a ‘Can Do’ factor or a ‘Will Do’ factor.

The relative importance of each skill and characteristic varies with the precise nature of the sales role undertaken. So, to make any judgements about an individual’s ‘suitability’ for a specific sales role, we need to understand the role first.

‘Can Do’ factors

‘Can Do’ factors fall into two categories; a level of intellect commensurate with the training requirements and everyday demands of the job plus the knowledge and skills to do the job. The latter include product, market and competitor knowledge plus essential sales techniques such as overcoming objections and closing.

Whilst knowledge and skills can be assimilated through a combination of training, coaching and experience, the ease with which they can be acquired is a function of the individual’s overall intellect and ability to learn.

‘Will Do’factors

‘Will Do’ factors comprise largely of traits of personality that describe how an individual is likely to behave in a range of circumstances. These characteristics include drive and energy level, assertiveness, emotional resilience and interpersonal sensitivity to name but few. Like the innate qualities of intellect and ability to learn, traits of personality are relatively static characteristics which are largely unaffected by training or experience.

So, given sufficient time, almost anyone can be trained to sell. However, only those with the ‘right’ personality are likely to reach and maintain an acceptable level of performance. What comprises the ‘right’ personality varies widely between different sales roles. The two most contrasting examples comprise New Business Executives and Key Account Managers (‘Hunters’ and ‘Farmers’).

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