Are Sales People Born or Made?

Are Sales People Born or Made?

“Baby I was born this way” Lady Gaga

What are your thoughts on this age-old question? It is certainly one that requires thought and consideration and not anything knee jerk or judgmental.


At SerialTrainer7 I get to work with, coach and train so many amazing sales people, and I have always liked to instill into them a confidence that helps them to channel what I call the ‘inner sales wolf’.   In sales it is widely acknowledged that there are two types of sales people; the hunters and the farmers.  The hunters go after new business, generate new clients and are hungry for the chase and love it.  The farmers are those who are great at managing the existing relationship, build longevity and grow the business by working closely with the existing client an example would be Account Managers.


You might have noticed the wolf cufflinks on this blog, beautiful aren’t they? I bought them from a jeweler in Poland called Tryb.  These demonstrate the point that some sales wolves could be manufactured whilst others may naturally just have what it takes.  To this end I have created a list of behaviours that, as a starting point help us to determine what type of sales talent we have in our teams.


There are some people who just have a natural talent or instinct for sales and here are my 7 traits of the born sales person or sales wolf.


  1. They are naturally competitive and have to win
  2. They have a lot of opinions and can be controversial
  3. They are quite noisy and like to be centre of attention
  4. They can be terrific at debating
  5. They verbalise things others often only think
  6. They have a “what’s in it for me” mindset when asked to do something
  7. They have a short attention span and get bored by the details


By contrast here are my 7 traits of the ‘made’ sales person.


  1. They are process driven first and instinct second
  2. They like to understand the details and facts to help them feel confident about contacting a client
  3. They spend time crafting presentations and proposals in detail
  4. They are considerate to clients problems and issues and choose collaboration over competitiveness
  5. They tend to be risk averse and can be loyal to an organisation and the clients
  6. They can be sensitive and use process to empower and keep themselves motivated
  7. They can with experience and good management, evolve into the ‘born wolf’.


Both types of sales person can be fully functioning and successful, it all depends on the product or service they sell and the type of manager they have. On this latter point, behaviour breeds behaviour.


To expand this thinking further one of the greatest sales books written in recent times is The Challenger Sales by Brett Adamson and Matthew Dixon.  It explores fully the traits of sales people and categorises them into 5 groups. The Relationship Builder, The Problem Solver, The Hard Worker, The Lone Wolf and The Challenger.  It is well worth your time and money if you want to know more about sales person typology and behaviours.


All sales people can benefit from understanding their own sales behaviours and then learning from other different sales people on how they can adapt and improve their skills.  Sales managers can benefit from knowing what they have in their teams and how to use these behaviours to recruit effective to balance the skills and manage the performance of their teams.


Thanks for reading, please feel free to share this blog, it would man the world if you did. Simon.

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