I subscribe 100% to the belief that salespeople are developed and not just born that way.
That being stated, I also believe there are certain traits that are extremely difficult to train and develop. That is not to say these traits cannot or will not change but the change has to come from within and is not usually developed through training.
Those traits that are not easily "trainable" are:
- Ambition and Drive- This probably seems obvious but absent this trait you are almost guaranteed to underachieve in the world of professional sales. As we often tell our clients; “you can’t want it for them.”
- Challenge/ Growth/ Change- This refers to the propensity of an individual to step outside their comfort zone and work towards, as well as accept, change. You can't instill it through training but it is tough to BE trained without it.
- Accepts Responsibility- One of the key traits of a winner in ANY walk of life is 100% accountability for their own success and not assigning blame to others when things don’t go as expected. Great sellers possess the trait of personal accountability and the ability to impart it through training is minimal at best.
- Positive Outlook- Once again, this might seem obvious but without a “can do” attitude and positive outlook, sellers will struggle to deal with the frequent rejection inherent in the world of sales.
- Self Awareness- The ability to be honest with oneself about strengths and how they impact sales performance is a strong trait in a sales candidate.
- Take Action- This trait manifests itself as the motivation and commitment to take initiative and execute on objectives. You can teach someone a great set of sales skills but if they don't USE them? Well you know how that story ends.
In case you are wondering how to best spot these traits in a sales candidate there is some great news. A solid, predictive, pre-hire assessment such as the Devine Instrument (that is the one we use but there are many other quality choices) will allow you to get a solid read on these critical traits.
No one is perfect in the traits above and it is not uncommon for a candidate to be higher in some than others. A good combined average is a great target for firms looking for a potential superstar.
Any assessment firm will tell you a predictive assessment should never be considered as more than a third of the overall hiring criteria and is a tool for, versus a replacement of, a good interviewing process.
In a world where it is easy to "fall in love" with a sales candidate during the hiring process a predictive assessment offers a strong objective balance against an otherwise high subjective process.