The emotional salesperson: How the need to be liked impacts sales performance

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Is it more important that salespeople develop respectful relationships or that they do not need their prospects to like them in the first place? New data reveals all. 

I recdently shared data that showed a chain reaction would occur when salespeople have more than one major weakness in their Sales DNA and the second major weakness is their tendency to become emotional. 

As a trigger, the first major weakness causes the salesperson to become emotional, at which time their listening skills become compromised.

That article can be found here and as of this writing nearly 6 dozen LinkedIn subscribers have contributed some very insightful comments here

Their comments inspired me to dig even further and look into the correlation between relationship-building that salespeople do and their need to be liked. 

In this study, even I was surprised by what I found!

The table I assembled below includes data comprised of 450,000 salespeople from Objective Management Group's (OMG) data on more than 1.75 million salespeople who have been evaluated and/or assessed.

[Click to enlarge]


Sales need to be liked

The table is sorted by the five ranges of Sales Percentile with the weakest salespeople in the percentile of 25 or below, and the top 5% in the elite group, with scores of 95 or better.

The second column shows the percentages of those who DO NOT need to be liked arranged by Sales Percentile. You'll notice that those scores correlate perfectly with the Sales Percentile, just as they did in this study of the Correlation Between Sales Motivation and Effectiveness. With the exception of the extrovert column, ALL of the scores in ALL of the columns correlate perfectly with Sales PercentileTM.

Many of the LinkedIn comments referencing the article on Chain Reactions theorised that relationships either were or were not important. I mined the data on five of the key attributes of the Relationship Building Competency and laid them out by Sales Percentile in order to compare them to the findings of Not Needing to be Liked.

There are some striking discoveries here, the most surprising one being that extroverts make up only 16% of the sales population. This is not  an aberration. It's the one constant in the data so say goodbye forever to the salespeople are extroverts myth!

Some of the key data points can be seen below.

Sales relationships

Look at the highlighted data for Not Needing to be Liked, Relationship Based Sales Process and Relationships are Key Factors in Closing Business. 

While 86% of the weakest salespeople DO need to be liked, only 42% of them have a relationship-based sales process and some believe that the relationship is the key factor. Do you see it? 

Despite NEEDING to be liked, most of them lack the conscious awareness of whether or not they are successfully building a relationship during the sales process. That is one of the key reasons that the weakest group of salespeople are so incredibly ineffective. Some in this group are attention seekers while some are so timid that if you blew them a kiss they would tumble over. 

Either way, this is a group that you shouldn't waste time coaching, shouldn't attempt to raise their expectations, and ultimately, shouldn't retain.  Replace these salespeople and use OMG's accurate, predictive, customisable, sales-specific assessment tool.

Conversely, we see that two thirds of the top group, where only 11% need to be liked,  DO have a relationship based sales process while only 1% believe the relationship is a key factor to closing the business. Do you see it? They DON'T NEED to be liked but are conscious of the importance of developing a relationship during the sales process. They know how (mechanical) but don't need to (emotional).

These findings bridge the gap between the two primary groups in the LinkedIn comments. One group implied that relationships didn't matter at all, while the other group said that relationships were extremely important. It is important to develop a credible, value-based, trusting, respectful relationship, while equally important that salespeople NOT NEED their prospects to like them.

Over the past two weeks I have enjoyed digging into the data and sharing some of the insights that prove and disprove theories while shedding light on the reasons for various sales effectiveness and performance.

Do you have a theory to prove?

Do you have a question that our data could answer?  Leave your question or theory in the comments here or on LinkedIn, or email me at [email protected] 

About Dave Kurlan

Dave Kurlan

Dave Kurlan is a top-rated speaker, best selling author, radio show host, successful entrepreneur and sales development industry pioneer.  He was inducted into the Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame in 2012.

Dave is the founder and CEO of Objective Management Group, Inc. (OMG), the industry leader in sales assessments and sales force evaluations and named the Top Sales Assessment Tool from 2011-2017.  Dave is also the CEO of Kurlan & Associates, Inc., an international consulting firm specializing in sales force development.  He possesses 30 plus years of experience in all facets of sales development, including consulting, training, coaching, recruiting, systems, processes, and metrics.

Dave has been a top-rated speaker at Inc. Magazine's Conference on Growing the Company, the Sales & Marketing Management Conference, the Sales 2.0 Conference, Inbound, and the Gazelles/Fortune Sales & Marketing Summit.

He has been featured on radio, television and in print, including World Business Review, Inc. Magazine, Selling Power Magazine, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine and Incentive Magazine.  Dave is a regular contributor to Top Sales Magazine and the Blog.

He was the host of the weekly business radio show, Meet the Sales Experts.  He is the author of Mindless Selling and the best-seller, Baseline Selling – How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball.  He created and wrote STAR, a proprietary recruiting process for hiring great salespeople, and he writes Understanding the Sales Force, voted the Top Sales & Marketing Blog from 2011-2016.  He is a contributing author to 4 other books including Stepping Stones, with coauthors Deepak Chopra and Jack Canfield.



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11th Aug 2018 02:15

Spot on Dave. At the end of the day, if the client/customer likes the offer, they will buy it regardless of who is selling it to them.

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