Something I’ll never forget is my very first sales encounter with the ever dreaded “e” word; ego. I was speaking with a candidate on the phone, and he just wouldn’t stop telling me how great he was. I later flew to seem him, and his ego continued to overtake the experience. He continued on about himself saying, “You will never find anybody as humble as me. I am the most humble person out there.” I remember thinking, “This guy is even arrogant about being humble”.
Since that experience I have dealt with a multitude of egos. Each one is slightly different, but generally speaking, it’s arguably the most detrimental characteristic of a salesperson. Ultimately, it holds them back from being truly great at their job. Personally, most of them don’t offend me and are overall, good people.
However, this topic has been on my mind a lot lately, as it is a regular part of my professional life. I recently had two different encounters through networking that were rather interesting.
Encounters with Ego
The first recent encounter was with a great guy that I had met through networking. We became quick friends, as we seemed to have a natural rapport. About once every quarter he drives downtown to meet me for lunch, and I occasionally receive an email from him thanking me for my friendship. He is humble, kind and appreciative, which makes me want to go out of my way for him.
The second encounter that comes to mind was with a prospect that was introduced to me through a mutual connection. Here is how our recent call went:
Gregg: Can you tell me what the base salary is for the position?
Prospect: You’re the expert. Shouldn’t you know this?
Gregg: I’m happy to give you my thoughts but I need to ask a few questions to better understand the role first. However, most of my clients have a budget for a VP of Sales. Can you tell me what your budget is?
Prospect: What do think it is?
Throughout the rest of the call, he made a fair amount of unnecessary comments that were overflowing with an unproductive amount of ego. The call finally concluded with him saying, “The ball is in my court. I’ll reach out if I’m interested in working with you.” I wanted to respond with, “Actually, don’t contact me,” but instead I thanked him for his time and even followed up with a thank you email after our call. My philosophy has always that I can’t control how other people behave, only how I behave so I’m going to be nice to everybody.
As it relates to the first person I mentioned, I ended up going out of my way for him. I referred him two deals in the last 60 days worth of $500,000. He has thanked me at least five times, and even called me to ask, “Can I send you a referral check?” When I told him no, he replied, “What can I do for you?” and I responded with, “How about come downtown in the next few weeks and grab lunch with me?”
As for the second guy, it’s safe to say that I didn’t send any referrals his way, and have no interest in working with him after I experienced the weight of his ego on our interaction.
The bottom line is that nobody wants to help an ego. People want to go out of their way for somebody who is humble and appreciative. These traits inspire healthy business relationships, as they build a sense of good-faith. Knowing that someone can avoid the toxicity of their overpowering ego in order to demonstrate their willingness to collaborate in a productive and uplifting manner can make a huge difference, especially in my line of work.