Sales success – just how important is grit?

6a00e554e8872388330191047cb64c970cOne of the great studies of achievement was conducted way back when in 1926 by a researcher named Catherine Morris Cox.  Cox was interested in identifying the factors that contributed to the accomplishments of true genius.  She studied the background and works of 300 recognized geniuses, from Leonardo Da Vinci to Mozart to Albert Einstein.

One of Cox’s most interesting findings was identifying a number of qualities beyond raw intelligence and talent that predicted  “greatness.”

Building on Cox’s data, Angela Duckworth subsequently isolated two factors she thought were better predictors of outstanding achievement than talent or intelligence. They are:

  • Tendency not to abandon tasks simply for the sake of change – not seeking something because its novelty
  • Tendency not to abandon tasks in face of obstacles – perseverance, tenacity, doggedness

Combined, Duckworth called these two characteristics – Grit. Grit is the perseverance and passion for long-term goals.

Taking a deeper dive into Grit:

  • Gut – referring to instinct for developing the courage to trust yourself to choose the right path
  • Resiliency – having the mental capacity that allows you to adapt with ease during adversity
  • Inventiveness – being about to continuously reinvent oneself as the marketplace changes
  • Tenacity – committing to your purpose

Relationship to Sales

Although Cox did not include any superstar salespeople in her study, we thought the concept behind Grit holds some merit in Sales.  Of course sales talent and sales skill matter.  But we suspect a good case can be made for Duckworth’s formulation of the characteristic of Grit.

One of the keys to sales success is working hard – crafting and modifying account strategies and rehearsing sales calls even after you have done it a hundred times.  Making that extra call on the internal champion who helped you during the last sales cycle.  Making sure the data gets translated into the CRM system and putting in the time to complete that online course for updating your sales skills.

Today, customer expectations are higher than ever; the competition is keen and the number of days in the week haven’t changed, so this notion of Grit may well be a piece of the puzzle for success.

If you think the concept of Grit has some merit and would like to measure how you stack up, try out the Duckworth Grit Scale Test.

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©2015 Sales Momentum, LLC

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About Janet Spirer

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. Janet has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School Professor she taught marketing, sales, and business strategy courses. She also managed a consulting practice focusing on sales productivity and marketing – working with a variety of clients ranging from Xerox to IBM. She translated those experiences into a book – “Parlez-Vous Business” – that helps sales people develop the business savvy to sell successfully. Since co-founding Sales Momentum® in 2000 with Richard Dr. Spirer received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.P.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Economics from Brooklyn College. She holds the appointment of Professor Emeritus at Marymount University.
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One Response to Sales success – just how important is grit?

  1. Rowena says:

    Well grit is one of the best characteristics to make a successful sale. I believe it can really be great if you can make a sale with only sheer grit.

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