What Sales Leaders Don't Know About Ego and Empathy

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, May 11, 2010 @ 21:05 PM

In the past week, three people had discussions with me about recruiting salespeople and suggested that the difference between successful and unsuccessful salespeople is that effective salespeople have empathy and ego.

These people probably use personality and behavioral styles assessments too.  Those assessments, always poorly adapted for sales, feature empathy and ego.  There are three things you must know when it comes to salespeople and their empathy and ego.

  1. The findings mean nothing when reported in a personality or behavioral styles assessment
  2. Lousy salespeople have empathy and ego too
  3. Empathy and Ego are only assets in the right quantity.

This article will focus on #3. 

Empathy and Ego are both a lot like food - you can't have too much of it or it will make you sick.  And if you don't have enough of it you'll be weak. They are really best plotted on bell curves, not bar graphs!

Let's take empathy.  Salespeople who don't have enough empathy won't be able to relate to the problems they are attempting to find and won't be able to help prospects feel comfortable sharing their frustrations and fears.  In other words, lack of empathy will compromise the listening and questioning competency.  Yet, salespeople with too much empathy will not only relate to the problems they can solve, but they will be empathetic to every stall, put-off, objection, excuse and sob story they hear too.  Here is where an ideal level of empathy can be seen on the bell curve.

Bell Curve

Ego is a very similar story.  Salespeople who don't have enough ego lack confidence and are easily intimidated. As a result, they have difficulty developing strong relationships, showing their expertise, garnering respect and developing credibility.  Yet, salespeople with too much ego appear to be cocky, arrogant, self-centered ass-holes who don't understand that selling is all about their prospects, not them.  I can't tell you how many salespeople each week are forced to hear me say, "John, it's not about you."  Here is where an ideal level of ego is plotted on the bell curve.

Bell  Curve

So there you have it.  If you read it on a personality or behavioral styles assessment, just know that the empathy and ego were measured in a social, not a business or sales context.  That makes it inaccurate and nonpredictive. Many ineffective salespeople have empathy and ego.  Too much empathy and ego is just as bad as not enough.  

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales recruiting, sales management functions, empathy, ego, sales assessments, personality test

Subscribe via Email

View All 1,700 Articles

About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016 and this one for 2017. Read more about Dave.

Email Dave

View Dave Kurlan's LinkedIn profile View Dave Kurlan's profile

Subscribe 

Receive new articles via email
Subscribe
 to the Blog on your Kindle 

 

Audio Book
Top 30 on Kindle
Top 100 on Amazon

Most Recent Articles

Awards

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee

Leaading Sales Consultants 2018

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2017 - Article/Post - Gold
 Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2017 - Assessment Tool - Gold

 2016 Top Sales & Marketing Individual Blog - Bronze

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 -  Bronze - Thought Leader

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Podcast - Gold

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Webinar - Gold

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 - Bronze - eBook/White Paper

2018 Top 50 Sales & Marketing Blogs Widget

Dave Kurlan Top 50 Sales Influencer 2015

Sales Pro Insider Blog

Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers

Top100Strategic

Top100SalesInfluencersOnTwitter



Hubspot Top 25 Blogs

 

Free Tools

Sales Process Grader

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Sales Ghost Calculator

Sales Force Grader

Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator

FREE Recruiting Process Grader