Does Your Sales Team Have a Modesty Problem?

August 23, 2017 Nick Rini

When you think about the one character trait that differentiates the most successful salespeople from all the rest what do you imagine? Charm? Intelligence? A highly competitive nature?

While a fast-talking, swaggering sales rep who just won’t take no for an answer may be the stereotypically successful salesperson, a study released in Harvard Business Review reveals modesty to be the personality trait shared by 91% of top performing sales reps. If your sales team has more braggadocious charmers than humble hombres - you may have a modesty deficiency on your hands.

What selling behaviors indicate your team has a modesty problem?

#1 They just want to win.

Every rep loves the feeling that comes with closing the deal. However, reps that lack modesty aren’t focused on bringing in a new client for the company - they are focused on winning a new client for themselves. This becomes evident when they don’t seek the advice of others, like developers or even management during the sales process. It goes beyond being a team player, reps who lack modesty aren’t team winners.

#2 They aren’t afraid to admit their mistakes - and learn from them.

Top sales reps know that they are not perfect, and that their tactics aren’t above reproach. They can admit mistakes without getting overly defensive and are open to changing course. This is one of the core reasons that sales reps with a high level of humility are so successful.

A humble sales rep is also open to admitting that they do not understand all of the issues a customer is raising, and give the customer time to explain. This makes a humble sales rep better informed and more capable of overcoming objections than one who cannot admit to being “wrong”. Sales reps who are not open to hearing about their own mistakes and misunderstanding of customer issues will not succeed in sales.

#3 They talk more than they listen

Customers, like all people, just want to be heard. Humble people tend to also be great listeners. Reps with a modesty problem are just waiting for their chance to be heard. Humble reps don’t lack ego, instead their emotional security makes it easier for them to connect with customers. While closing a deal is the immediate goal, a humble rep plays a longer game. They understand the value of relationship building, and are willing to put in the time it takes to listen and build true rapport with customers.

Sales takes a complicated combination of personality traits, selling skills, and sales behaviors - what we call Selling Intelligence. Identifying the behavioral indicators of humility can help you not only assign territories and responsibilities more effectively within the sales team, but it can also help you hire reps with a greater chance of success.

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