I was compelled to write this after seeing “These Require Zero Talent” picture being shared numerous times on Facebook and LinkedIn. Once you overlook the guy on a computer at the gym, there is a good message here. But if these traits require zero talent, what drives these traits?

When talking about sales performance, you’ve probably heard the saying “Will or Skill.” I’ve heard it time and time again, and at one point in my career, I adopted this principle. Although there is some truth to this, I believe it comes down to something more. Let me explain.

The Will or Skill principle is a belief that a sales manager would rather have a sales person on their team who is putting in the effort—the will—to achieve their goals as long as they are “coachable” to obtain the skills necessary rather than having a sales person on their team who has all the talent and skill set but lack the initiative (or the will) to meet or even exceed their objectives. So, it’s either the will or skill issue if a rep is struggling, right?

I believe that the success of any individual in any line of work can be attributed to one key trait: ATTITUDE.
In my experience, good attitudes produce positive performance and a positive team environment while bad attitudes cause poor performance and a negative culture. Here are just a couple of reasons why I believe in attitude over skill set. This study was conducted by hr.com. They found that 46% of new hires fail within the first 18 months of employment. 89% of these new hires were fired due to attitude vs only 11% on skill set. How can that be? The number one reason is that we tend to focus more on skill set rather than attitude. Think about most job descriptions and interviews conducted. They tend to focus on the skill set rather than attitude. Why? Because it’s easier to assess skill set. The study continues to answer the question: Are technical and soft skills less important than attitude?

It’s not that technical skills aren’t important, but they’re much easier to assess (that’s why attitude, not skills, is the top predictor of a new hire’s success or failure). Virtually every job (from neurosurgeon to engineer to cashier) has tests that can assess technical proficiency. But what those tests don’t assess is attitude; whether a candidate is motivated to learn new skills, think innovatively, cope with failure, assimilate feedback and coaching, collaborate with teammates, and so forth.

Soft skills are the capabilities that attitude can enhance or undermine. For example, a newly hired executive may have the intelligence, business experience and financial acumen to fit well in a new role. But if that same executive has an authoritarian, hard-driving style, and they’re being hired into a social culture where happiness and camaraderie are paramount, that combination is unlikely to work

Does it Really Boil Down to Will or Skill?

Here are the characteristics of ATTITUDE:
Accountability—they don’t place blame. They’re responsible for their own success
Timeliness—they are always on time for meetings and appointments. Early is on time and on time is late.
Targeted Focus—they make sure their goals are specific, achievable, yet challenging.
Initiative—they don’t wait for orders. They are proactive and take matters into their own hands.
Tenacity—they respond well to rejection and objections. They don’t waiver under pressure.
Understanding—Not only do they understand their own personal goals, but they also understand their customer’s goals, questions, concerns, and vision.
Desire—they are always getting better with their craft. They have the desire to improve. Always asking their managers for feedback knowing that it will benefit them.
Effort—they have a solid work ethic. They don’t create shortcuts. They do things right.

So, I would rather have a person on my team with a positive attitude because good attitudes always lead to good results. Does attitude have anything to do with will? Does skill require a good attitude? What do you think?

Greg Hahn

Greg Hahn is known for entrepreneurial vision and translating vision into revenue generation and productivity, thriving in a diverse and fast-paced executive environment. Throughout his sales management career, he has led several sales teams toward positive growth. His most recent accomplishment was with The Blue Book Network. In just two years, he was able to reverse an under performing region to one of the top regions in the company in 2015. Greg specializes in online marketing including website consulting, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and social media marketing.


Jodi G Tolliver · February 17, 2016 at 3:34 pm

Excellent, couldn’t agree more! Greg has worked this approach successfully many times over throughout his management career. We’ve all heard the statement “attitude is everything”….we’ll it is!

Leo Franchi · February 26, 2016 at 10:29 pm

Well written and totally on point.

Linn Lundsten · December 6, 2016 at 3:26 pm

Incredible hope We had looked at that.

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