If you’re interested in finding out more or just have a question for us, we’re here to help

Get In Touch

How to Develop, Retain & Attract

High-Performing Salespeople

Part 4

Thinking that salespeople are born and not made is a talent strategy Cop-Out

Blog Series

There is a global sales talent & skills shortage. Your business cannot win by avoiding that fact. It can win by how it responds to it.

This is Part 4 of ESI’s step-by-step guide to developing, retaining and attracting high-performing sales talent – drawn from the experiences of our customers and partners all over the world. In Part 1, we discussed the transformation of sales from a low-skilled job into a highly-skilled profession. Part 2 explores those more complex skills in a little more detail. In Part 3, we discuss the importance of managing and hiring for those skills.  Here, we continue to explore some of the mistakes employers can make when it comes to sales talent strategy. In time, we will focus on what you can do to avoid those mistakes.

In events, webinars and sometimes just casual chat, we get asked all the time about the old cliché that salespeople are ‘born and not made’. We have written about this before but very much in the spirit of an often whimsical debate. However, what looks like a fun theoretical discussion gets far more serious when it comes to your Sales Talent Strategy.

It may seem trivial but this notion – that successful sales people are that way purely and simply because of nature and genetics – can become embedded in the thinking about commercial talent in a business. It’s quaint and convenient:

  • ‘Let’s not challenge ourselves, too hard to fix this problem.’
  • ‘Let’s leave it to the instinct and gut of the sales leader.’
  • ‘Mary/Pete are naturally good with people – they would be great at sales.’

When it comes to your sales talent strategy, It’s also a cop-out.

Have a think about whether we would hold this thesis about any other profession: people never say accountants are only born and not made. Or doctors. Or lawyers. How could anyone be expected to be born with the complex skills required in these and so many other professions? So why salespeople?

Think about what we do for people in those other disciplines: we provide them with the developmental infrastructure to build on whatever natural acumen that they might have. All with the purpose of making them complete professionals.



Taking this notion – that high-performance sales skills are innate and cannot developed – as rote and embedding it in your thinking is also a huge risk. Lets get back to some fundamentals: you have codified the skills you are looking for [Part 2 ]. If you take the view that these people are only born and not made, in practical terms you really are waiting for a unicorn to walk through your door and arrive in your business with a complete skill set that they have inherited at birth. Not hard to work out the likelihood of that happening.

There is a global commercial talent shortage out there. You are unlikely to be finding enough of the right sales people for your business anyway. You have absolutely no chance if your working assumption is that you’re only going to be able to resource your commercial teams with people who are born with whatever skills you decide your business requires. Some people say that ‘Hope is not a Strategy.’ Well, genetics and exponential pro-creation don’t make for a great talent strategy either.

Getting beyond this myth will really help you overcome the sales talent challenges you are facing. Get past the idea that, if somebody doesn’t walk in to your business with all the natural ability you expect them to have, they cannot be developed into a high-performing professional salesperson.

It is not true and it is holding you and your business back.


Next up on Talent Strategy mistakes that can be made:

Sales tech doesn’t replace sales talent…no matter how much you want it to!


However, with the wonderful summer holiday season in full flow (in the Northern hemisphere anyway), we are going to pause this blog series for a few weeks until September. We have had a fantastic response to this series and would love you to join the conversation by offering your feedback, comments or simply sharing on your social media channels. And, as always feel free to contact us or connect on LinkedIn .

See you in September!


Level up Your Sales Team with ESI’s Dynamic Training Program!

Empower your sales team with ESI’s online sales skills program. Our comprehensive sales training curriculum covers core sales skills and offers in-depth modules to enhance personal expertise. Implement effective strategies across your organization for consistent results. Motivate your sales professionals to excel with ESI’s cutting-edge digital solution. Thrive in the dynamic world of sales.

Elevate your sales team’s potential with ESI’s unrivalled training solution today by clicking here.



Stay up to date with valuable insights and advice by registering for ESI updates!

Sign Up To Our Mailing List