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Written for The Burnside News

Recently a business person relayed a story that I thought was interesting. He was checking us out and asking other business people about our company and about me and my colleagues. He summarized me as “A natural born salesperson.” I took it as a complement but knew that it was completely wrong.

First, I didn’t plan to be here. It was an accident. I had no salespeople in the family and no clue of what to do. At best I was comfortable having conversations and my mother can be credited with giving me a strong work ethic. I had applied for a sales job within the company I was working for and didn’t get it. The company had hired a guy who they had set up with a client list and had announced his start but on his first day he called in to say he was taking another job. I got the job by default.

My on the job training consisted of a rate card and the yellow pages and an enthusiastic “go get ‘em tiger.” I knew I didn’t know anything about selling so on my first day I went to a book store and bought a paperback called “Compelling Selling.” I don’t remember the author but I do remember devouring the book cover to cover several times, making notes, reading it before work, at lunch, and after work. In hindsight it wasn’t the greatest book on the topic but it helped guide me in a world where I knew nothing.

Over 35 years I have been exposed to many approaches and people who took me under their wing. My best growth plan was failing and I did that a lot. I had the need to succeed and probably could have earlier with a better start. Some companies still only provide the “go get ‘em tiger” training. It seems ironic that plumbers, welders, pilots, and just about any profession is exposed to years of on-going education to do their jobs, but many times the revenue producer positions are often filled with what is believed to be “natural born salespeople” who magically come from the womb with their business development skills in-tact. In 35 years, I’ve never met one. People may be born extroverted with the gift of gab and a charm to engage people. To be successful in sales takes much more. Selling like any profession is a learned science and art.

©2011 Sandler Training Inc. (www.atlantic.sandler.com) is an international sales, customer service and management training/consulting firm. For a free copy of Why Salespeople Fail and What to Do about It, call Sandler Training at 902-468-0787 or e-mail salescareers@sandler.com

Eric Fry

Sandler trainer