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Natural-Born Sellers?

Whether you're a natural at sales or not, here's how to take the talent you've got to the next level.

This story appears in the May 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

This is a question I get all the time: Are good salespeople born, or are they made? It's true, some people may have more natural talent than others. But no matter how much talent you were born with, the key to success is making the most of the abilities you have. I believe that anyone can be a successful salesperson, especially if he or she embodies these attributes:

  1. Effort:
  2. Oddly enough, we don't hear a lot about effort these days. Instead, we're bombarded with infomercials that sell the "secret" to losing weight, growing hair, and making a fortune from real estate in no time at all. Why, within two weeks, we'll be thin, sexy and rich--we won't even recognize ourselves! What they're selling is the idol of our society: instant gratification. In the real world, however, there is only one secret to success. There is only one road--one long road--to follow to accomplish our goals. There are no shortcuts. Success comes from hard work. It comes from the extra effort we put in, from the work ethic we foster, and from the values to which we are committed. Only effort, sustained over time, will build the foundation to support success.
  3. Patience and perseverance:
  4. In our quest for instant gratification, we often forget about patience and perseverance, two of the most useful sales tools ever. You can't plant a seed and expect a ripened crop the next day; you must give the plant a chance to take root and grow. At the same time, you cannot sit idly by and wait for it to bear fruit; it takes care and nurturing. Sales are the same way. You must plant seeds every single day, be patient when things do not proceed as quickly as you'd like them to, and be persistent in your efforts to keep that sale alive and flourishing.
  5. Cultivated solutions:
  6. Effort, patience and perseverance will not survive unless you believe 100 percent that your product or service has value and benefit for your customers. So talk to potential consumers, and find out what they like or don't like about your product or service. Ask them what they want it to do for them. Talk to manufacturers and distributors of similar product lines. Use your research to get new ideas and build on what you already have to offer. Test out your ideas. Find out what works and what doesn't.

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