All the way back in 1964, David Mayer and Herbert M. Greenberg reported the findings of their research on what makes “the best salesmen” in the Harvard Business Review.
They correlated sales performance with personality test results and identified two key factors. The first – Ability to Feel — was essentially empathy, the capacity to sense what the sales prospect was feeling. The second trait – Need to Conquer – was the drive to close the sale, not just for money’s sake but because their egos absolutely required it.
In other words, the best salespeople are sociopaths. They have the rare capacity to feel what the prospect is feeling, and will single-mindedly use it to close the sale. They will do this even when they know doing so will harm the prospect. Because their egos require it.
When I worked as a B2B telemarketer during college, selling advertising specialties to small business accounts over the phone, I was an A-minus salesman. My clients liked and trusted me. I always performed in the top ten or twenty percent, and my book of business steadily grew. However, there were two salesmen on the floor that moved a lot more product than I did. I remember their methods. Whenever they made a sale, they shipped more than was ordered. And quite often when they didn’t make a sale, they shipped product anyway.
The commissions were higher that way. Returns were never more than 20%. Occasionally there were complaints and reprimands, but the sales manager didn’t have the heart to fire his unethical goldmines.
I wanted to know whether our products really worked – not just as pens, as advertising. No one knew. I wanted to build the basis of a long-term relationship with each and every client. So, at least in the short-term, I was an A-minus salesperson.
If you want to grow a great brand and business, avoid the A-plus sales types, and get yourself some good A-minus salespeople who care.