This article is excerpted from Discover Your Sales Strengths: How the World’s Greatest Salespeople Develop Winning Careers, by Benson Smith and Tony Rutigliano, Copyright 2003 by the Gallup Organization (Warner Business Books).
Motivation is critical to excellent performance, but it alone is not enough. Our society sends the message that people can do anything they want to do as long as they are willing to work hard and make it happen. We hear this from elementary school on, but in the back of our minds, we know this just isn’t true.
Many people could never make it through medical school no matter how strongly they want to be doctors. And just because a person wants to be a famous movie actress, a rock-and-roll singer, or a professional athlete, it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. No matter how much people want success or are willing to work for it, they still need something more. And we are not talking about lucky breaks.
People need the appropriate strengths in order to be successful in a given occupation. In sales, strengths stemming from motivational themes are indeed important to an individual’s success. You might have your own vocabulary for these striving themes; you might think of them as determination, drive, persistence, or “fire in the belly.” But motivation, by itself, is not sufficient if you are to become a superior salesperson. Whatever your terminology, such strengths are exceedingly important only when they are accompanied by the requisite strengths in the other areas in sales.
In professional sales these other areas of requisite strengths normally include thinking abilities to help you solve customer problems. The ability to form productive relationships and impact others in a positive way are also important areas of talent. And finally, organizational talent to help you plan your work and follow through on customer commitments is required.
Most important, these talents need to be appropriate for the selling role you are in. For example, some sales jobs require that you meet new customers every day. You might have only one shot at a customer. Maybe you are in a business in which it’s unlikely you’ll ever see that customer again regardless of whether they buy. On the other hand, you may have to sustain a productive business relationship with the same customer over several years. These are very different relationship talents.
So, simply being motivated isn’t enough. It is critically important to possess other sales talents and to find the right match.