Should Smart People Do Sales?

A 2008 study set out to find if smart salespeople are better or worse at selling

Good Morning! Earlier this week, Panera Bread announced they will be discontinuing their "charged" lemonades. With a whopping 302mg of caffeine in their large lemonades, it’s a tough week for our intern who drinks them on the daily to power through writing these newsletters. What should he switch to next? ⚡️ 

In today’s Follow Up:

  • Smart people and sales? 🧠 

  • Sales tip of the day 💡 

  • Sales news around the web 🗞️ 

  • Sales jobs, LinkedIn & a meme 😂 

Are Smart People Better at Sales

Our whole lives, we’re told that being smart is important.

Smart people get better grades, get into good schools, and get better jobs.

But, are smart people better at sales?

A 2008 study set out to find if smart salespeople were better (or worse) at selling, compared to their dumb less intelligent colleagues.

The study found that having high general mental ability (intelligence) alone does not mean someone will be good at sales. But when you pair intelligence with different thinking styles and social skills, the results show us something interesting.

Social Skills & Smart’s 🤝 

Having high intelligence alone can hurt your sales performance if you lack social skills.

The study found that:

  • The best salespeople scored high on both the intelligence and social skill scale. Their super smart and know how to talk to people.

  • The worst salespeople also scored high on the intelligence scale, but low on the social skills scale. These reps are smart but come across as smart jerks.

In most industries, sales reps are considered ‘knowledge brokers’, who help their customers make decisions based on information. While knowledge is important, the delivery of that knowledge is equally important.

How The Best Reps Think 🧠 

The way someone thinks plays a part in how they’ll sell.

The study identified 2 thinking types:

  • Judicial: evaluate ideas and try to understand the ‘why’.

  • Legislative: creative thinking and trying to create new solutions.

The best sales reps are smart with a judicial thinking style. They want to learn more about problems and understand the ‘why’.

Reps who are smart and use a legislative thinking style perform the worst in structured sales roles but perform well in complex sales roles.


  • Just being smart will not make someone good at sales.

  • People with high intelligence and great social skills tend to make the best salespeople.

  • If you’re dumb not smart, you can still be great at sales with high social competence.

  • When hiring sales reps, you should aim for high levels of intelligence, but also test for things like social skills and thinking styles.

Do you think smart people are better at sales?

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Sales Tip of The Day 💡 

Flip your sales pitch to include the ‘wow’ factor in the front, rather than the back.

 Typically, sales teams start using our solution and after 3 months of implementation, they start saving 2 hours a week on manual tasks.

 Imagine what would happen if your sales team had another full day of productivity every month. With our tool, they’re saving 2 hours a week on manual tasks, and adding an extra day of output every month.

Grab your prospect’s attention by pitching the end result upfront, rather than the ‘how’.

Sales Around The Web 🗞️ 

Cool Sales Jobs 💼 

Checking In On LinkedIn

Is buying a Lambo the best purchase a CEO can make? 😅 

Sales Meme of the Day

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