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Tennessean Column- Sunday, June 29th

Posted on: June 26

Author: Tom Black
Tennessean Column- Sunday, June 29th

Know Your P’s and Q’s

Recently I was talking with a sales person who told me he was a “natural born salesperson”.  So I slapped him.  Seriously, it led to a discussion of that thought.  Are salespeople born or are they made?  I suppose it is obvious no mother every gave birth to a baby with an order pad.  Nor has a mother ever given birth to a baby with a law book or a stethoscope.  No one was ever born to be anything.

It is true that as we grow up we gain skills and knowledge that better prepare us for some professions than others.  In a survey of 200 sales people with college degrees none (zero) said they went to college to be in sales.  So how did they end up in sales?  More importantly, what made them successful in sales?

When given IQ tests sales people are no more intelligent or less intelligent than the general populations.  We would all agree it takes a basic level of intelligence to do any job but once that level is achieved (minimum level) higher intelligence is not a predictor of sales success.  By the way, the sales person I was talking with was not a genius. 

If it is not intelligence what is it?  Studies have looked at grades, SAT scores and general academic performance.  These all turned out to be less accurate than rolling a pair of dice.  So enter psychologists with a new measurement of “emotional intelligence”.  Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand your own feelings.  The EQ tests they developed measured a person’s ability to regulate their emotions.

Yes, successful sales people regulate their emotions, they have too.  However, when a person starts in sales their EQ can be low and they can learn that behavior.  The sales people that do not learn this do not last long or they suffer in mediocrity.  It is a skill that can be learned.  EQ tests show people have the ability to improve scores with time and experience.  Not so much with IQ tests.  So the end result, EQ scores were no predictor of success either.

Still searching for a predictor, “the born sales person”, researchers introduced the idea of “social intelligence”.  These tests measured an individual’s ability to relate to and understand other people.  Of course the greatest sales people have high SI.  Were they born with it or was it learned?  Well somewhere along the lines they learned it.  Maybe as a child but it is a learned skill.  I call it empathy but it is definitely learned.

So we have IQ, EQ and SQ, but no P’s and Q’s.  We still have no natural born sales people or successful people in any field that were born that way.

I am going to suggest that great sales people combine all these skills and they constantly strive to improve.  Four Q’s determine results in sales:

  1. The quality of your effort.  Two brothers follow every great sales person.  See-more and Sell-more.
  2. The quality of the presentation.  There is a good, better and best presentation.  Once you embrace this thought it is inevitable that you conclude, as a sales person, that you want yours to be the best.
  3. The quality of your prospect.  Decision makers are better prospects than non-decision makers.  People with the ability to pay for your product are better prospects than those that cannot.
  4. The quality of your values.  Belief in yourself, commitment to your profession and others, etc.

Follow these Q’s, despite your IQ, EQ or SQ, and I guarantee your success.


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