The improbable salesperson

by Admin
Updated: July 18, 2020

The improbable salesperson is one of the rarest and most precious members of your sales team

For industries where sales are made in person - everything from makeup at the mall to luxury cars & boats - the most extraordinary levels of sales success can be achieved by those who have no sales training and, most importantly no idea why sales don’t happen.


In my early years I had studied sales as a set of techniques that could be mastered - overcoming objections, closing the deal etc. - and worked with professionals who had similar training and a similar approach.

Later on, I had the opportunity to work with companies that used independent contractors as their service providers (service being the primary source of income) and which paid them an additional commission for retail sales.

None of these people had any formal training in sales and I found, as expected, that the average level of sales per person was very low... except there were a few star performers.

When I say “star” I mean someone who typically sold several times more than the rest of their team combined and teams could sometimes be 20 people or more!

How & why

I discovered three key things they all had in common:

  1. No formal sales training.
  2. No extra effort was applied to win a sale.
  3. No idea that their level of sales wasn’t completely normal.

When asked about their customers, the typical response was along the lines of, “Doesn’t everyone spend that much?”

If a customer didn’t buy at the time, no extra energy was given to wondering why or trying to force a sale: They would simply buy (probably more) next time - why wouldn’t they?

Knowledge breaks the spell

Basic formal sales training can often prove to be a bad idea because it introduced negatives to those who did not already have them and amplified them in those that did.

The least successful in terms of sales volume were those who knew all the reasons why a customer might not buy. This included reasons why they themselves would not buy which was the single most crippling factor.

Staff who have a natural ability to sell must be protected from negativity. They cannot be normal team members when the team is engaged in overcoming obstacles because they don’t see sales as a complicated process.

It is not productive to teach people who don’t normally fail how they can fail in future.


Especially when it comes to in-person sales, a lot of sales training involves overcoming the uncomfortable & unnatural way people feel & behave when given sales responsibilities.

Many sales techniques actually describe things that should NOT be done because they spoil interactions that might otherwise be going well.

Many other techniques are designed to encourage behaviors that would be normal in non-sales situations but get suppressed.

The naturals don’t seem to bring any baggage to their interactions with customers. They communicate in a relaxed way and don’t mess things up by trying to make a sale.

Not always appropriate

While this mentality works very well when reinforcing a customer’s emotional predisposition to buy, there is a realm of advanced, high-pressure sales where natural ability simply isn’t enough.

Situations that require precise responses, e.g. when the buying decision is based primarily on technical considerations, can be very demoralizing without sufficient specific training.

More info

“21 Powerful Sales Techniques (Backed by Scientific Research)” at

“5 Things a Salesperson should never do” at

“Study: 3 of 4 Sales Reps Have No Idea What They’re Doing” at

“The 4 Characteristics All People Who Make It Big Without a College Degree” at

Internal links

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