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It’s Not the Tools That Make the Salesperson

It’s not the tools that make the salesperson. It’s the salesperson that makes the tools. It’s important to know this and to not pretend otherwise.

Where Tools Make No Difference

A poorly trained, poorly developed, and poorly coached salesperson can only perform poorly even when provided with the best tools (or even the best territory). This is true also of salespeople in name only, those who haven’t embraced sales and who aren’t really salespeople.

You can give a poor performing salesperson access to all of the tools that Sales 2.0 offers, and it will not improve their results. They can tweet, plus, link, like, and stumble around on the Internet, to no avail.

Give them the best leads, the best laptop, the best smart phone, the best sales force automation, the best mobile hotspot, and the best sales collateral ever printed on four-color glossy paper, and they will fare no better.

You can even give poor salespeople the best product, best service, best solution, and the world’s greatest value proposition and they will still be outsold.

No Tools Required, But Well Placed

On the other hand, you can give an excellent, well-trained, well-developed, and well-coached salesperson almost nothing in the way of tools and they will still create and win deals. Their ability to win deals relies on a different set of tools, chiefly their ability to create value for their clients.

An excellent salesperson can leverage their ability to sell, their ability to create value, by using the tools that they are given. The Sales 2.0 tools are put to better use because they aren’t being used to compensate for the salesperson’s shortcomings. Instead they are used to demonstrate and share their ability to create value for their dream clients.

A great salesperson won’t need your best leads; they’ll produce them. If you give them the best laptop, smartphone, sales force automation, mobile hotspot, and sales collateral, they’ll put it to good use, but these external accouterments won’t be nearly as important to their results as to what is inside them.

It’s not the tools that make the salesperson successful. It’s something else that isn’t nearly as easy to provide them. There are no shortcuts here, and there is no amount of money you can spend on tools to produce a better result.


Why are tools useless in the wrong hands?

Why do some people believe that possessing the tools will allow salespeople to produce better results by themselves?

What are the real “tools” that allow a salesperson to succeed?

What do salespeople really need to improve their sales results and how are they provided?



  • Tbertuzzi

    Great post and so true. I had a friend who blamed her bad golf game on her old clubs. Her husband bought her new clubs and she was still terrible. She turned to him frustrated on the course and he said to her “Honey, it’s not the arrows it is the Indian”. Love that line!

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      I wanted to talk about the poseurs that show up dressed the part but lacking any real interest in gaining mastery. Hence, the peacock. Thanks for sharing that line. I am using that it like crazy!

  • Tamara Schenk

    “A fool with a tool is still a fool”

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks, Tamara!

  • Mike McCandlish

    Well said, Anthony. I agree with all, very good. Keep ‘em coming.

  • Miles Austin

    Anthony, Of course you are right when you say “It’s not the tools that make the salesperson. It’s the salesperson that makes the tools.”  For anyone to suggest otherwise would be foolish.

    But oh, how the effectiveness and results can be enhanced when an excellent, well-trained, well-developed, and well-coached salesperson is provided with specific web tools designed to enhance the specific needs and processes already employed.

    The responsibility for success lies with each sales leader and the individual sales person. The discipline to continuously read, attend training seminar and webinars, with preparation and practice will provide the highest level of success, and in my opinion, fulfillment.

    Don’t blame the tools, they are just that. I believe a great sales person, armed with web tools specific to their selling method, process and industry will enjoy even greater success.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks for sharing your take here, Miles! It adds a lot. I have long suggested it’s the salesperson’s duty to develop themselves, and I like your addition of adding the tools of the trade to that development. They aren’t a substitute for good selling skills, but they are a tremendous supplement when used well.