If you imagine a “born salesperson,” what do you see? Most people would picture a charming, fast-talking extrovert with charisma to burn.

Two small problems: First, that stereotype has never correlated strongly with actual success in sales. Second, it is now a downright obstacle to the kinds of sales training programs and sales coaching initiatives that are actually needed in today’s world.

It is more critical than ever to stop thinking of sales success in terms of personality traits. Why? For one thing, because sales training isn’t just for salespeople anymore.

Forward-thinking organizations are recognizing that anytime anyone in a company has contact with customers, they have the opportunity to either sell or un-sell the customer.  There is no neutral when it comes to interacting with customers; the needle moves in one direction or the other with every customer contact. Therefore, whenever we have any kind of customer interaction, we are in a sales role—and we need effective sales skills.

Because of that realization, sales training courses and sales coaching programs are being delivered to a whole host of nontraditional sales groups—accountants, nurses, engineers, and many others—sometimes with dramatic success.

Sales Training: It’s not just for salespeople anymore

Case in point: RML Specialty Hospitals, located in the Chicago area, serve the complex needs of patients who require longer hospital stays and highly specialized care.  RML gets most of its patients via referrals made by doctors or nurses from about 65 other hospitals in and around Chicago.

Because the process for transferring a patient requires an onsite evaluation from a professional nurse, RML provided sales training programs and sales coaching to its clinical liaison nurses to improve their effectiveness at gaining referrals and admissions. The very last thing any of these nurses wanted was to be described as a ‘born salesperson.’

“Gaining buy-in from our nurses to engage in sales training wasn’t easy,” says Tricia Vaisvila, vice president of business development and a member of RML’s administrative council. “Nurses are caring, educated, and involved in doing for others. Even using the word “selling” to describe what’s necessary to develop our business was offensive to many of them. They considered the “S” word as synonymous with “rip off.”  They were hired because they have clinical skills and now we were asking them to engage in something that they thought was beneath them.”

When it went shopping for training programs, RML found that most sales training programs marketed to the medical field were related to pharmaceutical sales. With nurses as the intended trainees, that was not appealing. “We didn’t want anything that involved any form of manipulation, nor did we want our nurses to turn into pitch people,” Vaisvila says. “We want to be consultants to patients, their families, and the doctors and nurses who refer patients.

“Action Selling is a perfect match for us because it is so easy to adapt to our industry,” she continues. “The program started by explaining selling and sales skills in a way that I hadn’t heard before—as a straightforward communication process. Nothing else that we looked at applies as well to health care. It gave us a way to conduct successful sales calls and to be respected as medical professionals at the same time.”

For information about how to improve sales skills and make sales training pay huge dividends, contact Action Selling at (800) 232-3485.

Duane Sparks

About Duane Sparks

Duane Sparks is founder and chairman of The Sales Board, the authoritative source of practical and leading-edge information about the art and science of selling.  He has created Action Selling sales training products and learning systems that transform sales organizations.  Duane is author of these best-selling books: Action Selling, Selling Your Price, Questions (the Answer to Sales), Masters of Loyalty (How to turn your sales force into a loyalty force), and Sales Strategy from the Inside Out (How complex selling really works).

Discover how the best sales training process can make spectacular improvements in sales skills. Action Selling: How to Sell Like a Professional (Even If You Think You are One).