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Are Great Salespeople Born Or Made?

As I travel the country providing training and coaching programs for organizations, at a certain point, I always ask the room to raise their hands if they are an introvert or extrovert. The results might surprise you and I ask this for a very specific reason. There is an assumption that extroverts are better salespeople. Born to be great at it. We hear the words, “They would be a natural salesperson.” But is it true? Before we get to the truth, let’s start with the results of my ongoing poll. On average, it’s surprisingly about 50/50. Some industries certainly have more extroverts. But some industries like manufacturing, where it’s common for engineering types to be converted to salespeople, typically have more introverts. But on the whole through all industries, in my experience, it works out to be about even.

Extroverts: Extroverts might have an early advantage from simply feeling more comfortable in a cold sales and conversational situation. There is no denying that being more comfortable connecting with new prospects is a strength in sales. However, I have met many extroverts that are good at the initial aspects, but not at the meticulous step by step sales processes, follow up and more. Some extroverts are great at sales and some are not. There is certainly much more to sales than being comfortable talking to people.

Introverts: For introverts, it can be more challenging to start cold conversations. However, some of the best salespeople I have ever worked with are introverts. If they can overcome their initial natural tendencies, recognizing that it’s best for them and the prospect, they are often the most conscientious, sincere and talented salespeople.

The Big Picture: There are certainly many other natural and developed aspects outside of personal comfort levels that can make someone great at sales. In my experience from working with all industries and company sizes across the country, all salespeople can get better. Myself included. It doesn’t matter whether we are an introvert or extrovert. Our process and our ability to always focus on improvement is what matters most. I have met salespeople who were great from the beginning and some that struggled and finally became great twenty-plus years later. Although some people will never be great at sales, the majority that are currently in sales positions are capable of becoming at least good or even great with the right training, commitment and effort. It’s a very small percentage that are great right away (born with it). Most have to work at it and transcend (made) to that next level.

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