Can Sales be Taught? Plus the 4 other Top Stories on LinkedIn

September 2, 2011

This series covers the top 5 stories that our members are sharing on LinkedIn Today each week. You can check out Daniel Roth‘s column here. – Ed

After weeks of market and big tech turmoil (Apple bidding farewell to its leader, HP doing the same to its tablet), professionals across LinkedIn took a break from breaking news to focus on themselves. They had heavy questions, like “Why doesn’t anyone share what I write?” and “Why aren’t I better at sales?”

Top 5 most-shared articles on LinkedIn (Aug. 26, 2011 – Sept. 1, 2011)

  1. How Businesses Use Social Media for Recruiting,” Mashable
  2. "9 Reasons Why Your Content Is Not Shared on Social Networks: New Research,” Social Media Examiner
  3.  “At funeral, dog mourns the death of Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan,” Yahoo News
  4. Are Top Salespeople Born or Made?” Harvard Business Review
  5. Eric Schmidt: If You Don’t Want To Use Your Real Name, Don’t Use Google+,” Mashable

Let’s tackle the last question first. The biggest problem with your sales strategy is that you have the wrong DNA, says a blogger at the Harvard Business Review. According to Steve W. Martin, an adjunct professor at USC’s Marshall School of Business, great salespeople are born, not made. “The overwhelming majority of top salespeople are gifted with innate talents,” he writes. Self-taught salespeople have an uphill battle:

For every 100 people who enter sales without natural sales traits, 40% will fail or quit, 40% will perform at near average, and only 20% will be above average.

Martin offers some tips, such as learning from past mistakes, but he says there's no skirting his findings. Unless you were closing deals in your diapers, your chances of success are limited.

So if sales is out, maybe social media is the way to go. Write some articles, post some videos and watch the sharing world turn you and your product viral. Well, you’re probably doing that wrong, too, according to Social Media Examiner. Here are a few of your problems: You’re boring, you're untrustworthy, you don’t listen, and you’re not as cool as you think you are (unless you’re a cause, in which case you are cool).

A three-day weekend couldn’t come soon enough!

But wait, there is a ray of hope. The top shared story this week was a Mashable infographic looking at the rise of social networks in recruiting. Nearly 90% of surveyed companies say they plan to use LinkedIn and other social platforms to recruit this year and 65% have successfully hired using a social network. So if sales and social networking aren’t in your blood, at least you can keep an up-to-date profile and work to find an employer who will appreciate your true talent.

Other top stories by industry: