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Important Sales Lessons You Can Learn From 2nd Graders

April 1st, 2016

The profession of Sales is loaded with mediocrity. More than half of all salespeople hired today will not survive a full year with their new company. More than half of those who do survive will fall short of their quota and forecasted sales in their second year. Less than 5% will generate consistent, predictable results.  As a result, business owners waste billions of dollars every year in recruiting, training, compensation, and opportunity costs.

While there are many attributes that comprise a successful salesperson, and while most of these can be uncovered BEFORE you waste your time and money hiring another dud by virtue of an effective screening process, there are some very basic attributes that any salesperson can employ immediately, but simply do not.  These attributes are so basic, in fact, that the skills to deploy them exist in any child.  Unfortunately, it seems that most sales “professionals” have forgotten the skills and traits they learned as youngsters, or they maybe they just choose not to use them when interacting with prospective buyers. Here are just a few of the effective traits of 2nd graders…: 

Kids don’t have answers. Ineffective salespeople prefer to act like they have all the answers.  Kids make you feel like the expert. “Expert” salespeople are a huge turnoff to buyers.   

Kids are sincerely interested. While snake-oil salespeople ask leading (salesy) questions and listen with filters.   

Kids are playful. While “professional” salespeople are scripted and stodgy. 

Kids are unpredictable. Most salespeople are simply boring, asking the same questions and adding no additional discovery or value.  Research shows that 86% of salespeople are perceived as undifferentiated.

Kids are infinitely curious. While mediocre salespeople make far too many assumptions. Assumptions = missed information = DANGER.

Kids will ask anything. Most salespeople stick to their list of Tie-down questions. These add zero value to the conversation.

Kids truly love to discover new things. Conversely, most salespeople choose to spend most of their time talking, presenting, proposing and demonstrating, instead of facilitating discovery and LEARNING.

Kids learn something new every day. Many salespeople are committed to “the way they’ve always done it”.

Kids are always testing their limits. Low-growth salespeople refuse to leave their Comfort Zone. 


 If you have any doubt that using child-like attributes would “work” with your “sophisticated buyers”, or if you’ve simply forgotten some of the most valuable lessons you learned when you were a kid, I’d challenge you to give them a try during your next sales interview.  If you would kindly share the result, I’ll make sure to publish it with the readers…   


 Copyright ©   Joe Zente  2016.   All Rights Reserved.