Are Salespeople Psychopaths?

Narcissism. Psychopathy. Machiavellianism. The three negative traits known as the Dark Triad and most salespeople have them.

Good Morning. Last week, an AT&T outage left tens of thousands of customers without cell service, and thousands of sales reps without a way to cold call them. But there’s good news for the customers (sorry sales reps). AT&T announced they will reimburse customers who experienced the outage with a full day of service credit (roughly $5). Try not to spend it all in one place…😁 

In today’s Follow Up:

  • Are the best salespeople psychopaths? 🤔 

  • 101 discovery questions to ask 🗣️ 

  • Sales tip of the day 🧠 

  • Sales around the internet 🗞️ 

  • Sales jobs, interview email & meme 😂 

Are Good Salespeople Psychopaths?

Narcissism. Psychopathy. Machiavellianism. 

No, we’re not describing your first sales manager…

These three negative traits are known as the Dark Triad.

A review of 150 sales job postings found that hiring managers almost always look for positive traits like ‘self-motivation’ or “enthusiasm” - but never traits like psychopathy.  

According to a study, salespeople score higher on these dark traits than almost any other professions (besides CEOs, lawyers, and celebrities). 

Many salespeople have these traits, but are they actually what makes them good at sales? Ice cream sales and shark attacks go hand-in-hand on a chart, but that doesn’t mean the two are correlated (they’re not).

The research report is 20+ pages and filled with words like ‘intrafirm contexts’, so instead of reading it ourselves, we had the intern pull an all nighter to read the entire thing and figure out what it means for us salespeople. 

But first - here’s what the dark traits mean:

  • Machiavellian = Manipulative and a drive to do anything necessary to gain power.

  • Narcissists = A person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves. 

  • Psychopaths = A person with an extreme lack of empathy and may refuse to accept responsibility for their actions

Sound like a sales rep you’ve worked with? Yea… same here. 

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at what he found.👇

The Research 🔬 

The study followed 82 new insurance sales reps over their first 18 months on the job and measured their ratings for each of the dark traits, along with their sales performance. 

The results:

  • High Machiavellianism created an initial lag in performance but eventually led to above-average growth after 10 months. This is likely because they are strategic and focused on finding ways to get results over the long run, but not as concerned with initial results. 

  • High Narcissism didn’t increase or decrease performance, even though narcissists feel superior. As the study says, most narcissist sales reps are ‘all talk’ and little action.

  • Psychopaths had high performance at the start but slowed down to average performance over time. Their charisma makes them want to ‘show off’ when they first start the job, but their lack of long term strategic thinking hurts them over time. 

All of the dark traits play a role in the performance of sales reps, but not always in a good way…

If you’re hiring new sales reps here’s what to do: 

Learn to Spot Sneaky Behavior 👀

Noticing these traits is far from easy.

Experts say Madonna is a narcissist, but people still love her.

You can use personality tests to measure these traits or study some of the common patterns to watch out for while interviewing.

Whether you want your sales team to have these traits or not, it’s important to recognize them early in order to manage correctly.

Use Your Network 👥

Do. Reference. Checks.

They’re not fun, but they can save you a ton of pain in the long run.

Before hiring someone, reach out to managers and teammates who have worked with them in the past.

Ask questions like:

  • They said they delivered X results when working with you. Is that true?

  • Would you work with or hire this person again?

  • What were they not so great at?

  • How much can they bench press?

You’re doing yourself and the candidate a disservice when you hire them for a role they’re not a fit for.

Spend the extra time and do some investigating.

Have you worked with salespeople who have these dark traits?

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101 questions to qualify, close, and negotiate

We’ll assume you’ve done the prep work: getting a foot in the door. 

Now, it’s time to reel ‘em in -— and your line of questioning counts buckets. Here are 101 vetted sales questions to help you finesse the most comfortable fit.

Discovery questions to ask your prospects cover:

  • BANT (budget, authority, need, timeline)

  • Personal details and industry experience

  • Closing, upselling, circling back, and more

Add a handful of these to the master list (since you have one of those).

Sales Tip of The Day 💡 

Ask your prospect about the competition.

🗣️ What other solutions are you evaluating that could solve this problem?

It might seem backward, but a study found that mentioning competitors early in the sales process increases win rates by 32%.

🎵 Bring em’ up, bring up 🎵

Sales in the News 🗞️ 

Remote Sales Jobs 💼 

A Job Interview Gone Wrong

Who’s in the wrong here? 🤔 

Sales Meme of the Day

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