How I Became a Top Sales Performer (Part 1)

Lesson 1: Sales is NOT about Selling

I am fortunate to have had a very successful sales career. But, it didn’t start out that way.  First I had to learn the most important lesson in sales:  Sales is NOT about selling.

Wait a minute! What do you mean, “Sales is not about selling”?

It’s not.

What I’ve learned as someone who has trained and managed a lot of sales people is that 99% of the things that you hear about sales when you get into it are simply wrong!

For instance, when I started out as a sales “executive”,  many of the people who encouraged me to get into sales thought I would be good because I had a “sales personality”.  They were talking what happened in customer meetings, where as a consultant, I would get animated and the client  would get excited about the product I was presenting.  That’s certainly a good indication of my presentation skills, but it didn’t mean I “sold” anything.  In fact, most of the so-called sales “personalities” I worked with did not make their quotas, had shammy forecasts and knew little or nothing about how to close a deal.

Having a “sales personality” didn’t necessarily guarantee anything.

Society doesn’t really think much of that concept – think “used car salesman”…. does that conjure up the kind of person you think would be really successful in selling multi-million dollar deals to Fortune 500 businesses?

What is really ironic is that I am the exact opposite of the “sales personality”.   At one point early in my sales career, I took the Myers-Briggs personality test. Boy, what an eye-opener! This test helps you understand what traits dominate your personality. My profile was “INTJ” – that means I’m introverted, emotionally detached and tend to approach everything as if I had a plan for it.

I sort of have a “creative side” (that’s the “N” in the key), but I am not the high-energy, hyper-aggressive, always smiling communicator that people generally stereotype as a sales person. Don’t get me wrong – I am not talking about being positive and motivated.

Sales people are told “no” a lot… all the time…. every day!

In my experience, at best, even good sales people tend to close only about 25% of the deals that they identify. You have to be self-motivated all the time, and you have to deal with the fact that your potential customers don’t want to speak with you (at least not at first) and most of the time, don’t actually buy something from you.

I learned right away that I could be successful if I was motivated, persistent and was willing to keep trying, even though my customers kepts saying “no”.

What kind of a sales personality do you have?  How does it impact your sales success?


Author: Terry Walsh

Terry Walsh is a Trusted Executive Advisor known for his work helping clients create and execute revenue growth strategies, organize and build sales teams, and implement CRM systems. He focuses on helping sales leaders achieve their potential in building and managing effective sales teams. Author of “99 Questions to Achieving Your Sales Goals” (Amazon), which outlines a road map for success in both individual sales and managing sales teams, implemented in dozens of clients. Terry's 25+ years’ experience and a proven track record help organizations build high-performing, well-managed sales teams that drive maximum revenue and create enduring customer relationships to exceed revenue, operational and strategic goals. Terry is currently a Partner with Funnel Metrics, LLC, a leading professional services firm that offers a unique suite of sales enablement and performance management solutions designed to help businesses improve revenue growth and predictability.a Previously, Terry worked as an executive sales leader for major companies including Culligan International, Cendant Corporation, Whitman-Hart/marchFIRST, Digital Equipment Corporation, and others. He has supported dozens of clients as a consultant, trainer and project leader to enable effective sales organizations.

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