Why Great Salespeople Are Made, Not Born


Matt Milligan
Reading Time: 4 minutes



Why Great Salespeople Are Made, Not Born

Aurelien Mottier

Co-Founder and CEO at Operatix

Matt Milligan

Co-Founder at Uhubs

Traditional sales professionals are often under the impression that you’re either naturally talented at the art of selling or you just don’t have what it takes to be successful.

Yet some of the best sales representatives are those that are nurtured and thoroughly trained, starting with just a passion to become the best they can be.

While there may be some traits and a level of confidence preferred when recruiting and mentoring sales professionals, great salespeople are made, not born.

Aurelien Mottier (Co-Founder and CEO of Operatix) sat down with Matt Milligan (Co-Founder of Uhubs) to discuss this concept.

Join the conversation as they explore how technology can help mentor people into great salespeople, soft skills that can be developed into first-class sales skills and why managers are an integral part of building a successful team or SDRs.

Are great salespeople born or made?

There is a longstanding belief that salespeople are destined for the role – they have a natural ability that simply can’t be taught. Yet time and time again, this has been proven wrong. While some people may be naturally gifted when it comes to selling, others have to work hard to develop and climb the ladder of success.

Salespeople, in general, must constantly evolve their skillset as the market changes, which Matt views as an indication that high performers aren’t just born that way. They must constantly hone their skills and improve their craft to stay at the top – to be successful, you can’t simply stay stagnant. Therefore, those without experience in the field can do so, too.

“There’s a bit of a limited belief across a lot of more traditional sales professionals that you’ve either got it or you haven’t. Yet incredible, amazing sales talent can be built, it can be made.”

Matt Milligan, Co-Founder of Uhubs

Sustainable improvements don’t happen overnight but come from daily 1% improvements and a deep understanding of the product you want to sell. The fundamentals of what makes a great sales representative rapidly change, yet thorough training and staying on top of these trends can result in an inexperienced salesperson becoming an expert over time.

Core competencies of great salespeople

While sales skills can be taught and nurtured, there are some core traits to look out for when recruiting a new salesperson. The right candidate needs to have the right combination of soft skills and natural characteristics to be successfully developed, given how difficult the role can be. 

Seen time and time again in high performers, both Aurelien and Matt view curiosity as an unteachable yet vital trait in their team. It fuels the desire to learn and grow, a critical part of being coachable enough to become a top performer regardless of previous experience.

“There are certain core competencies that we see in high performers. Curiosity comes out really strongly, and the highest performing sellers have a really strong aptitude towards a growth mindset.”

Matt Milligan, Co-Founder of Uhubs

Undoubtedly, passion and having a growth mindset are both core values to look out for during the recruitment process. Sales involves rejection, successes, difficult moments and joy. You must take the good with the bad, and those that don’t have a passion for the job will struggle to stay motivated. A growth mindset will ensure your recruit is keen to better themselves and sees every failure as an opportunity to learn, ensuring they don’t fall at the first, second or tenth hurdle.

Time management is another important skill to have, although this can be developed if worked upon. Sales professionals wear many different hats and have a number of different responsibilities. Without effective time management skills, key parts of the role may end up being neglected – leads may not be properly qualified, meetings missed and follow-ups are forgotten about.

But, how do you go about uncovering these traits? After all, you can’t simply ask if they are curious or passionate, as they’re bound to say yes if they see that’s what you’re looking for. Instead, Matt recommends a more tactical approach during the interview process, such as psychometric testing, assessing how many questions the candidate asks and basing questions on the competencies you seek for the position. 

Best practices for creating great salespeople

Ongoing coaching is an essential part of creating a great sales team, and something that must be a focus for every staff member regardless of previous experience.

Here are some best practices for creating a great salesperson:

  • Define a baseline of key characteristics you want to see from the candidate during the interview process and understand how you can test them upon it. While training can help them hone their craft, they need to have the core competencies your business values to succeed in the environment.
  • A great tech stack is essential in ensuring a sales team can do their job effectively and efficiently as well as allowing you to shorten the ramp-up period. Tools should include a CRM system and conversational intelligence. 
  • Ensure you provide sales managers and trainers with the support they need to develop their own leadership skills. Being a first-class coach to new recruits means constantly improving your own skills, not just basing it on previous experience.
  • A strong product and industry knowledge are absolutely essential in being able to sell – without it, sales representatives will fall down at the first hurdle. Review your onboarding process to ensure this is as clear as possible, defining the solution exactly as you want it to be sold.
  • Use assessments to get an initial indication of what the salesperson’s natural strong competencies on, building upon them while improving weaknesses. Assess this on a regular basis during the first few months of training to accurately judge these improvements.

Regardless of the amount of experience a salesperson has, the desire to constantly develop and evolve their craft is vital is staying at the top of the leaderboard. Experience is not the be-end and end-all of a great salesperson; rather, it is their core competencies and coachability that trumps all.

To hear this interview and many more like it, subscribe to B2B Revenue Acceleration on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, our website, or anywhere you get podcasts.

About Operatix

Operatix is a Sales Acceleration company specialized in supporting B2B Software vendors to identify new revenue streams, increase qualified sales pipeline, and accelerate channel development across Europe and North America. Operatix has a wealth of experience in working with the biggest tech players worldwide as well as a multitude of emerging software vendors.

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Channel Transformation

Digital transformation is changing how companies buy and use business solutions, making vendors re-assess the capabilities of their channel ecosystem. With channel dynamics in constant flux, vendors need to be ready to cut ties with partners that don’t share their vision or have connections with the right B2B buyers.


Operatix has supported numerous vendors in their path to Channel transformation by assessing current partners and recruiting new partners that are more aligned with their new channel strategy. Once the right partners have been identified, Operatix built scalable outbound sales development programs that accelerated their routes to market.

Inbound Response Management

In a competitive industry like technology every lead counts. Operatix can help you maximize conversion from MQL to SQL and from lead to pipeline, increasing both your revenue and ROI on marketing activities.

Account Identification

Identifying the accounts that are more likely to buy from you is part of our expertise. We will research the market, identify verticals and industries that can benefit from your solution and set up qualified sales engagements for your teams to kick-off the sales process. 

Cold Prospecting

Our team will identify new sales opportunities within the strategic accounts that you haven’t been successful in penetrating through your sales & marketing efforts. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, multitouch approach to connect with prospects, generating qualified sales engagements for your team and ultimately increasing your pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Partner Concierge Service

Our Partner Concierge Service helps vendors accelerate their channel programs, by engaging and nurturing channel partners and supporting them to get to revenue quicker.

Demand Generation

Whether you need to implement a demand generation strategy or get more results out of your existing demand gen engine, Operatix can work alongside your marketing team to yield better results out of your demand generation programs.

Account-based Marketing

An Account-based Marketing strategy is only as successful as the revenue it generates. At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Lead Qualification

If your marketing leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help sieve through leads that need further qualification, so they are ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with.

Account-based Selling

At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Pipeline Generation

Generating Pipeline for our clients is our key-objective. And we do that by using a multi-touch, multi-channel approach to generate qualified sales engagements for our customers’ sales teams.   

Account Intelligence / Deep Dive

Understanding buying centres, hierarchies and relevant personas in strategic accounts is a fundamental step to increase conversion rates. By leveraging account intelligence in a sales conversation your team can tailor their message and provide value to their prospective customer. But sales & marketing teams often struggle to dedicate time and resources to do the deep research and this is where Operatix can help.

DMID – Decision Maker Identification

Finding quality data is an on-going challenge for B2B Tech vendors. The accuracy of data platforms is questionable and that is why Operatix developed a manual process to identify & verify contact details for decision makers within strategic target accounts.

Playbook design

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to get your messaging right, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapt the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

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Sales Playbook Development

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to implementing the correct messaging, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapting the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

Lead Qualification

If your leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help filter through leads that need further qualification, ensuring that they’re ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with and progress through the funnel. 

Partner Portal / Marketing Concierge Service

Vendors often spend thousands of dollars building multifunctional Partner Portals to help channel partners educate their teams, manage opportunities, and create marketing programs. Still, these portals are often underutilized due to lack of bandwidth and capacity from vendors to offer support in enabling their partner community. Operatix, through their Partner Development team, can support your partners to make the best use out of your partner portal, managing the relationship with your partners and helping them set up co-marketing campaigns to drive more revenue for both businesses. 

Marketing & Sales Alignment

The sales development function is often seen as the “glue” that brings sales & marketing teams together. By working as an extension of your teams, Operatix will be your predictable source of pipeline, sales & revenue.

Optimization of MDF

Market Development Funds are an important component of any channel ecosystem, though vendors believe they are not maximizing the return on investment they should be getting from their MDF programs. At Operatix, we build scalable outbound sales development programs that will give you the visibility of return over the invested spend and will provide clear value for your channel partners.

Increase Partner Productivity

The 80/20 rule is still very applicable to the channel, which means that investing in partner productivity should be a priority for vendors looking to grow their businesses. Operatix can increase partner productivity and shorten sales cycles, by identifying ready to engage sales opportunities for your most valued channel partners.

Virtual Channel Account managers

Our VCAM team is responsible for building, maintaining, and managing sound relationships with current and prospective channel partners. They can get involved in opening up new sales conversations as well as closing small businesses up to $ 10k.

Tier 1 & Tier 2 Activation

Whether your business decided for a Tier 1 or Tier 2 distribution model, Operatix can help your channel partners get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements to your channel partners we can accelerate your route to market with tangible and easily measurable results.

Solution Selling Training

Far too often vendors insist on enabling their channel partners to talk about features and technical details of their solutions. Customers don’t buy features; they buy the benefits your solution can bring. Operatix will work with your partner community to train them in articulating your message from a high-level business perspective, enabling them to talk to prospects about the value your solution can bring to their company from a board-level perspective.

Channel Enablement

Enabling your channel partners have measurable wins for your business when done right. Operatix has a proven track record in enabling channel partners from a sales & marketing perspective, providing them the knowledge and tools to successfully pitch your solution and sell the value & benefits of it. 

Partner Recruitment

Recruiting the right Channel Partners is the first step for a successful channel program. Operatix has helped over 350 B2B Software vendors recruit suitable channel partners across EMEA and North America, supporting them to scale and expand their presence in different geographies and verticals. 

Risk/Reward Business Model

To truly work as an extension of our client’s sales & marketing teams, we have also adapted our business models to show how our clients operate, and how their success is measured. With our risk/reward business model your investment is proportional to the results our team delivers.

Sales Qualified Leads

On average, 52.5% of the sales engagements set up by our team progress into a next step in the sale process. That means that 5 out of 10 meetings will progress either into a POC, a Demo or a pipeline opportunity.

Geographical Scale

Trading in different geographical markets not only requires a knowledge of the native language, local rules & policies, but a deeper understanding of the local culture and habits. We have the ability to deliver campaigns in multiple countries with flexible resource allocation. This is through our team of international speakers, who have the ability to sell in 17 different languages across the globe.

Increase Revenue & Decrease Cost

Building an internal sales development team comes with many additional costs and challenges that aren’t always taken into account: recruiting resources, training and enabling them etc. You also need to take into account the need for having the data and tools to make them successful, which in turn requires time, capital and effort. By outsourcing your sales development to Operatix you will see your revenue increasing, while decreasing costs and business risk.

Predictable Pipeline Generation

On average, our clients see a 26X ROI on the programs we deliver. By understanding your revenue targets and sales pipeline gap, we will work on a sales & marketing plan that will deliver tangible results.

Vertical Growth

Entering new industries or launching new product lines? Operatix can accelerate your growth by supporting your go-to-market strategy, and getting your sales teams in front of decision makers in key target accounts.

Reduce Headcount

By outsourcing your sales development and partner programs to Operatix; we reduce headcount and the challenges that come with managing people, technologies, and processes. We take care of your sales development, so you can focus on what matters the most: growing your business.

Revenue Acceleration

Operatix helps your business get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements for your direct sales team (to kick-off new sales cycles), or by accelerating the growth of your channel partners, our focus remains on delivering tangible results for your business. 

Persona-based Selling

Operatix team will design specifically tailored messages to influence the different levels of decision makers in the sales process, tailoring the communication according to each job function. Our focus is to sell the value of your solution from a business perspective, not its features.    

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