Raw Talent

By Greta Schulz

If there were only one thing I could emphasize to C-level executives, it would be that starting with the right people, the best people, is the key to everything. Yes, there are lots of other important factors – if there weren’t, I wouldn’t have content for my book, “To Sell is NOT to Sell.” However, I often get asked to “train up my salespeople.” When I ask a few questions, I learn that they are just not trainable. Simply put: Not everyone is trainable, but probably for different reasons than you might think.

There are three things that make salespeople successful: attitude, activities and approach. These are the three “secrets” to sales success. Are they actual secrets? Of course not, but I am amazed how often they are not adhered to.

To me, the most important is the first one: ATTITUDE.

Attitude is the belief in yourself, your environment, your work ethic. It’s that fire in your belly that makes you do whatever it takes to get the job done – no excuses, no “almost,” “sort of” or “close, but not quite there.” Attitude is the real deciding factor in success. That being said, are there some things – some raw talent – that help move this along better and faster? You betcha!

Pay attention here if you have any mediocre salespeople. If you do, ask yourself why. Let me answer it for you: because you allow it! That’s right. It’s your fault. No one else’s. Let me tell you a story to help illustrate this point.

Our son, Clayton, was recruited in 2012 to play for the Kansas City Royals as a left-handed pitcher. Of course, he began in the minor leagues. His first week in Arizona was an exciting one. Immediately following the introductions and handshake niceties, Clayton began showing the coach his pitches. “I was really known for my change-up. I also have an excellent curveball,” he told them.

After he threw his pitches and looked at the coach for his endorsement, the coach said, “Clayton, I don’t give a darn [expletives replaced] how you pitched in college, and I don’t care that you were known for your change-up. We hired you for your raw talent, boy. We didn’t pick you for your fancy pitches! I will teach you how to throw a curve ball. And that change-up? Forget it! You will do it my way and I will make you a pro player. If you don’t like that, you can leave today.”

When Clayton called home with his tail between his legs and told us that story, I explained that it was a good thing. If all he had were his pitches, then he didn’t have much to work with! They saw something in him that was the makings of someone great. That is something to be proud of.

The moral here? In business, hire for RAW TALENT. These are things like confidence, bravery, desire and commitment. The rest can and should be taught.

If you hire off of a resume of someone who has sold, you may be missing the boat! ¿

Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business, a sales consulting and training firm. She is a best-selling author of “To Sell is NOT to Sell” and works with Fortune 1,000 companies and entrepreneurs. For more information or free sales tips, go to schulzbusiness.com and sign up for “GretaNomics,” a weekly video tip series, or email sales questions to

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