Qualities that Pertain to Every Good Salesman
A recent article discusses the qualities that make a good salesmen. Turnover among agents is costly and wasteful to companies. The insurance industry realized this was a problem about 35 years ago and since then the industry has embarked on an intensive program to solve the problem. Before deciding to embark on this program, the insurance industry had a turnover rate of 50% within the first year and almost 80% within the first three years. The intensive program does not seem to have helped either. Turnover rates remain the same.
The cost of a turnover so dramatic is nearly incalculable. New salesmen draw on commission, expense accounts, and are paid a salary. All of this money is wasted if the salesmen fail to sell. Then the company has to spend time, money, and energy for recruiting, selecting, training and supervising new salesmen. Also there are enormous costs caused by lost sales, reduced company reputation, poor morale, and “permanently burned territory.”
Robert N. McMurry observed that “A very high proportion of those engaged in selling cannot sell….If American sales efficiency is to be maximized and the appalling waste of money and manpower which exists today is to be minimized, a constructive analysis must be made of what selling really is and how its effectiveness can be enhanced….We must look a good deal further—into the mysteries of personality and psychology—if we want real answers.”
Harvard Business Review took it upon itself to conduct the analysis McMurry describes. After seven years of research in the field, several insights have been made about what makes a good salesman. The study analyzed the retail automobile industry, the insurance industry, and the mutual funds industry. The men in each industry were divided into four groups based on the predictability of the men succeeding. This predictability was based off of the empathy and ego drive of each salesman. The study showed that the men predicted to succeed were much more likely to succeed and less likely to quit or be fired. The study led to the conclusion of the basic theory that a good salesman must have two qualities: empathy and ego drive.