Nature vs Nurture

Is sales a tal­ent, a learned skill? Or is it a genetic trait, one passed down within some DNA sub structure?

I now fully believe that is all about the breed­ing. If you are  a good sales per­son then chances are high that your father’s, father’s, father was out mak­ing quota sell­ing buggy whips or pens made from bird feathers.

I didn’t always think so, but now after sev­eral years, I think it is. There’s a real skill and intu­itive­ness involved. Some­thing that has to come to you nat­u­rally to incur real suc­cess in our world. It’s also some­thing you have to come upon in some cases. You might not always know what skills you already possess.

It’s funny. It took a hol­i­day party and my daugh­ter to actu­ally con­vince me.

We recently attended a big hol­i­day hoopla with my fam­ily. My daugh­ter, who I would char­ac­ter­ize as “shy with a sense of self aware­ness,” taught me a lit­tle hol­i­day les­son. She pro­vided me with an oppor­tu­nity for bet­ter self aware­ness too.

The scene: 40–60 adult strangers (to my daugh­ter), fair amount of god awful hol­i­day sweaters, most peo­ple in base­ment near large wood bar.

Our star: my young daugh­ter, typ­i­cally not that out-going or assertive. She was, how­ever, dressed in her hol­i­day best and feel­ing a fair amount of self con­fi­dence. (and let’s face it all you female read­ers, you know you have the power suit that you wear when you want to look your best and feel your best walk­ing into a tough meet­ing. Actu­ally, I’d say it’s not even gen­der based although a few guys might dis­agree. Every­one has their look when they want to feel their most con­fi­dent. My boss ALWAYS wears a red tie to a power meet­ing, for example)

So what happened?

Her uncle pro­vided her with a beau­ti­ful serv­ing tray.

Her options were clear. Load it up, get com­pli­ments on her adorable dress, and offer up some Christ­mas cook­ies. Frankly, I was pretty con­fi­dent it would be aban­doned in less than 3 min­utes unless I shad­owed her pro­vid­ing encour­age­ment as she approached com­plete strangers. Oddly though, she came into her own. She was com­pletely con­fi­dent and uncan­nily sales-like.

She walked up to the dis­play of ter­rific sweets, loaded up her plate and off she went. The first few rounds were a breeze. Who doesn’t want a choco­late, choco­late chip cookie at a party? Espe­cially after a cou­ple egg nogs.

Then, it got tougher. She was well over an hour or two in (think Q4) and peo­ple were get­ting full. And start­ing to remem­ber their self-promised diet vig­i­lance. Even I turned her down swear­ing I was going to eat my peanut but­ter cup cookie very soon and would need a refill right after that. She gave me a dirty look.

Just when I thought she’d give up, go ask for a snack or crayons or even a present, she per­se­vered. It was unex­pected to say the least. She filled up her tray again.

She walked around offer­ing another dessert, treat, cookie. She was rejected time and again. And she never took no for an answer. My 2 favorite examples:

1)      Guest: “Sorry, honey, I have a cookie right here on my plate that I still need to eat before I can take another.”

Daugh­ter: “Ok, I’ll wait.”

2)      And with one last cookie on her tray:

Guest 1: “I’m sorry, I couldn’t pos­si­bly eat that whole last cookie.”

Guest 2: “No thank you. I don’t want that whole cookie.”

Daugh­ter: “Tell you what. Split it”

She sold her wares both times.

Per­se­ver­ance and win-win solu­tions. Maybe a lit­tle cliché. Maybe a lit­tle silly with my child-like exam­ples. But they are true.

Either way, I’ve been absent for a few weeks. And I just wanted to share this story with everyone.

In Q4, I hope your abil­ity to per­se­vere and find win-win solu­tions dri­ves home the quota.

And if not, I hope you have a chance to step back and watch the bud­ding future sales peo­ple in your fam­ily fine tune their skills.

It was such an oppor­tu­nity of intro­spec­tion to watch my kid who shares my gen­eral dis­in­ter­est in social­iz­ing with strangers pick up a tray and sell. And watch her suc­cess and con­fi­dence grow as a result.

Merry Christ­mas! And may you far exceed your quota in 2010!

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