“I’m just not a natural sales person – I wasn’t born with the gift of the gab!”
How many times have you heard yourself say that, or heard others say something similar.
For a long time now, many businesses have held the belief that this sales gift is something that someone was either born with or lacks naturally, and often a struggling start-up, or a frustrated owner/manager, will seek these skills in others believing that if they could just find that one right person to join the team, who comes ready equipped with these magic ingredients ready-made, then all their sales growth problems would be solved in one fell swoop.
It is true that recruiting and building an exceptional team is a necessary part of developing and growing a business – and it does make sense to recruit those who have the attitude and values, and where possible the skills and experience that match your ambitious vision – but this does not support the argument that sales competence is an illusive skill that cannot be nurtured and developed – in anyone!
In fact, the opposite is true and the latest scientific findings are supporting the long held argument that sales skills are nurtured not pre-assigned in our genes.
Epigenetics the very latest field of research in DNA human science and aims to understand the changes in gene behavior not caused by heritable changes in the DNA sequence –thus use of the term epi- from the Greek meaning of ‘outside of’ the genetics. The most recent papers confirm that within everyone’s DNA some strands of proteins are can be either activated or deactivated throughout someone’s lifetime depending on their human experience.
This means that the type of life we life, be that the experiences we are exposed to, how we respond to those experiences, the lifestyle choices we make or the emotions we feel actually do affect our DNA. This change in our internal genetics increases or decreases our propensity to not only specific diseases (for example, arthritis) but also changes in personality and behavior.
Thereby, supporting the belief that there is a potential sales person in all of us.
So if we accept that scientifically we all have the propensity to develop persuasive and influence skills, why then are these skills so difficult to find ready formed in most people.
As we mature from children into adults we often dumb-down these natural instincts, (or they’re bashed out of us) as they can be perceived to be brash, unattractive or wrongly motivated.
If you need to develop sales capability either in yourself or your team, there are 3 ways in which to nurture these skills.
1. Ongoing stimulus
Feed your brain – constantly. The majority of information flowing towards us all day every day is negatively biased and these enters our precious unconscious unfiltered. Therefore to develop stronger influencing skills, use the same unfiltered bombardment strategy for your own brain – but with the information that will help you develop these
Attend seminars/conferences/training programmes, listen to audio programmes, watch motivational/inspirational or informative video (I personally start my day with a 15min TED talk most mornings) and restrict anything else that is not stimulating or supportive.
Obviously, nurture or feed this informative to your team – daily.
Set the environment up for success. Place ‘triggers’ to stop the behaviours you wish to stop and triggers to encourage the behaviours you want.
Message boards, screen savers, even a red sticker on a personal mobile phone screen, can be sufficient to catch yourself consciously so you can change behavior.
It’s the same philosophy as packing your gym bag the night before.
3. Powerful peers
Your peers can both lift you and command you to give more of yourself, or pull you back down. Therefore it’s necessary to surround yourself (and encourage your team) to seek out mentors, or mastermind groups who will support their ongoing development.
Introduce a job sharing or internal mentoring/coaching programme into your business encouraging the more experienced people to nurture the talent and skills of the newer team members.
Sales & influence skills lie within all of us and if nurtured, encouraged and trained, it is possible to re-light that fire in your own belly as well as that of your employees.
This great article is one in a huge series which tackles the 6 Biggest Challenges Leaders face according to theCentre For Creative Leaderships Report published 2013 Don’t Miss Out! Sign up here to be notified of our subsequent issues and posts