b'FINAL THOUGHTSARE SALESPEOPLE BORN OR MADE?BY PETER SMITHThe National Jeweler columnist answers an age- hiring, the evidence suggests otherwise. RESILIENCE old question in a time when one thing is certainIf your definition of a salesperson is some- The most successful salespeople get them-fewer people are visiting physical stores. one with the ability to drive sales, to moveselves in front of more customers and, as a the bar, to prevail when the going gets tough,consequence, willingly invite more rejection. T he lasting impact of COVID-19you will need to look for four traits, none ofIf their close rate is 30 percent, they are on retail stores remains to be seen,which are trainable.getting some version of no thank you 70 but one trend that has acceleratedYouve got to hire for them.percent of the time. If their close rate is an because of the pandemic is the decline ofimpressive 40 percent, they are being reject-foot traffic in stores.SELF-MOTIVATION ed 60 percent of the time. If ever we needed a reminder about thePeople are either motivated or theyre notIn Dare to Lead, Brene Brown wrote: importance of closing sales it is now, and theand, while we can create the circumstancesCurrent neuroscience research shows that secret ingredient in that sauce is talentedto de-motivate people, we simply cannotthe pain and feelings of rejection that shame salespeople.motivate someone to love to sell. inflicts are as real as physical pain. So, are salespeople born or made?They may enjoy being around pretty jew- People with low resilience will not be The question seems to have existed in theelry, they may like engaging with people, theysuccessful in sales because they wont readily ether forever. Its right up there with, whatmay have exceptional product knowledge,expose themselves to the ongoing rejection came first, the chicken or the egg? And, whatbut if they dont aspire to positively influencethat comes from asking for the sale. do they call French kissing in France? customer behavior, they will not be good in a Its a question that cant really be an- selling environment. OPTIMISMswered unless you first identify what a goodIt is imperative to distinguish betweenMartin Seligman wrote in Learned Opti-salesperson is to you.someone who is motivated to get the job andmism that, Optimistic individuals produce On the surface, it shouldnt be difficult to an- someone who is motivated to do the job.more, particularly under pressure, than do swer. We all want salespeople who can sell, right? pessimists. Well, not exactly.EMPATHY I have yet to meet a superstar salesperson If we all agreed on the essential charac- Empathy is oxygen in a sales environment.who is not an optimist. teristics of salespeople, we could make a list,The misnomer that excellent salespeopleYou simply cannot perform to a high check it twice, and hire only those candi- are gifted talkers often misses the point thatstandard in sales if you do not believe that dates who fit the bill. they are also great listeners.you will be successful, that setbacks are tem-The problem is, we dont all agree on whatThey seek to understand the motivationsporary, and that customers will be better for constitutes a great salesperson. and needs of their customers and use theirhaving engaged with you, your company and When I ask hiring managers to describepowers of observation to read their custom- the products you are selling. the most important attributes in a sales- ers body language and the sub-text of what isHire optimistic salespeople and allow person, I invariably receive a laundry list ofbeing said.their positive vibes to influence their col-qualities and traits that, to be frank, dontRobert Greene wrote in The Laws ofleagues and customers alike. have much to do with sales acumen: nice,Human Nature that, No attempt at influenceIf you want nice people who are easy to honest, good with people, hard-working, jewelrycan ever work if people feel in any way that theymanage, hire friendly people and let the chips experience, etc. are being coerced or manipulated. They mustfall where they may. If you want salespeopleIn fact, when I started this column, I spentchoose to do whatever it is you want them todifference makers, top-level producershire a few minutes perusing help wanted ads bydo, or they must at least experience it as theirthe wiring and get out of their way.retail jewelers on LinkedIn and the abovechoice. The more deeply you can create this attributes pretty much cover their postings.impression, the greater your chance of success.Peter Smith is the president The recipe seems simple enough: Hire niceIve seen many people talk themselves outof Memoire and Hearts On people and teach product knowledge. Its notof a sale over the years, but I have yet to seeFire (Chow Tai Fook, North the worst plan in the world, but is it enough?anyone lose a sale by listening too much.America). He is the author of With all due respect to the disciples ofAs with motivation, empathy cannot betwo books, Hiring Squirrels the nice-plus-product-knowledge school oftaught, so hire for it.and Sell Something.68 STATE OF THE MAJORS 2020'