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Great Salespeople: Born or Bred?

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm in the Sales Training business. So you might think my answer to the question, "Are great salespeople born that way, or can the be taught?," is a little skewed. But, I'll answer earnestly.

Anyone can learn to sell.

That's because sales is a process. And people can learn processes (if they want to). It is, of course, easier for some people than others. Let me make an analogy:

Math is a process. Anyone can learn how to run a formula. It's easier for some people than for others, but we can all -- with enough effort -- learn what to plug where. "Numbers-oriented" people learn more quickly than others, but anyone can eventually get it.

Sales is also a process. Anyone can learn it. It's easier for "people-oriented" people to learn how to sell than it is for others.

The challenge, of course, is finding the "people-oriented" people in the first place. If you're hiring salespeople*, you want to find the ones who either:

  1. Already understand how to sell or
  2. Will have a short learning curve.

Am I right? Can anyone learn to sell?

*As an aside, the best way to determine how much work it will take to get someone selling at their peak, consider implementing a sales assessment tool.