When I am meeting with potential clients, I almost always ask this question and when I do, almost always the answer, given with much difficulty, is "I am not sure", "That is a good question", "I dont think so." When sales managers reflect on the sales talent they have, in which the business is depending on to produce revenue it needs to survive and grow, there can be pain in the reflection. Yes they have some top performers, but there are also those salespeople that don't quite deliver. The sales manager works with these people trains these people, goes on sales calls with these people, coaches these people, helps them set good goals and at the end of the year, again these salespeople miss the mark. Now the sales manager might be faced with some difficult decisions that they rather not have.
It is a fact that not all people in this world are created with the gift of selling and yet many of these people can find there way into a selling career. I am a firm believer that industry and product knowledge can be taught and learned over time by just about anybody, but the art of selling is different. You can teach it, train it, coach it, role model it and in spite of all this effort, those people that do not bring certain gifts, behaviors, and abilitites to the table up front will have difficulty trying to perform at a high level in sales.
I recently performed a talent assessment for a client and had the tough task of informing him that based on the results of the assessment, he did not have a strong sales team and that he cold do much better with better talent. I was concerned that even if we trained the salespeople he has, their performance improvement would be marginal at best. Any investment in such training might not deliver the return he would expect. Yes, the assessments could have been wrong, but the client did not dispute the results and in the end, agreed that investing in training would not be wise at that time.
I don't know if you believe in assessments, but I do. They provide an objective data point on the natural gifting of the person and while the results are not the final work, they do help provide information that can assist with the interview or development plan. There is nothing wrong with a person that is not gifted in sales. There is something wrong if this person finds themselves in a selling career. It is wrong for this person and the company that does the hiring.