This is an excerpt from my second book, Managing the Sales Process, available on Amazon.com. You can find a series of these excerpts in a dedicated blog category to get a broad overview, post-by-post, of the book (they are listed in reverse order in the category, so start with the oldest).

From Chapter 1 – The Core Attributes of Sales Success

Can be trained
As discussed in the introduction, pushing a bunch of poorly performing, unmotivated salespeople through a training without doing anything else is a formula for failure. In later chapters, the focus will be on setting up an environment and a framework in which training can be effective, but here the focus is on the people themselves.

The short version is terribly simple and looks like this: Someone who has the will to win, and who will do what it takes to do so, will be receptive to training. If either one of these is missing, then training will just not be as effective ─ by a long shot.

Let’s start with willingness to win. Salespeople who understand that they control their paycheck and want it to be bigger will take opportunities ─ from you or found on their own ─ to get better at their craft. These are the salespeople who read sales books, listen to tapes in their car, or pursue strategies for being more effective in one way or another. A salesperson like this introduced into a good training will look for things to start applying right away to make more money.

Those who lack this desire will be apathetic in training and happy to keep doing what they are doing and to get the same results. They have no desire to make the effort to improve; to them it is just a bother. Trying to train someone without the desire to win is like negotiating with a rock.

But a willingness to do what it takes is also a critical component. Learning new things often is uncomfortable. Are your salespeople willing to try something that is new to see if it will work? If they are willing to do what it takes to succeed the things they learn in training have a chance of being used. If there is no willingness to get out of familiar patterns and comfort zones, there is no possibility that something new will be tried until there is certainty that it will work. Life is uncertain, so the odds of the new technique being tried by the salesperson without the willingness to do what it takes are pretty slim.

Someone with both desire and commitment is easy to train, because he or she is both eager and willing to try putting new things into practice. Without desire and commitment, you have people who are happy to sit in the training room getting “a break” from calling customers. These people are highly unlikely to bring anything from the training back to their desks and sales calls afterwards.

Earlier in the book we covered industry experience as a factor in hiring decisions. It is very easy to be seduced by the apparent benefits of hiring someone who “knows the business.” However, without desire and commitment, a willingness to learn, and the capacity to be trained, your industry veteran very well may prove less valuable in the long run than someone who will eagerly learn the industry and innovative ways to connect with your customers to create business opportunities.

That someone “can be trained” means that they have desire and commitment to succeed in sales. Having desire and commitment to succeed in sales trumps a lot, and a salesperson who does will be a better bet over time than one who doesn’t, even if it takes them some time to learn what they need to learn in order to succeed.

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David