I’m the World’s Worst Salesperson and Proud of It

allan rothI’ve had a waitlist to take on clients for more than a dozen years. It isn’t because of my skills in sales. In fact, when it comes to the “art” of convincing people to buy services or products, I consider myself the worst salesperson on the planet. Let me explain why and how you (and more importantly, your clients) benefit from being an awful salesperson as well.

A little background – I used the wrong word

Early in my career, I worked for the global management consulting firm McKinsey and Company. One of my first assignments was to help a senior partner prepare a proposal for a large engagement for a Fortune 50 potential client. I thought the proposal looked brilliant – it described our expertise, the study methodology, and the benefits this client would receive if they hired us. In addition, it gave them some useful information to consider even if they didn’t hire us. I looked at the partner and said, “This will really sell them!”

The partner looked at me and said something like, “We don’t use the word ‘sell’ at McKinsey.” He explained that we provide information to the potential client as to the value proposition and how they will benefit from hiring us.

This seems like sales, but there is a distinct difference.

A reader commented on my last article on behavioral finance. He noted that many decades before Kahneman and Tversky, the master salesperson Dale Carnegie wrote:

When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.

Selling has less to do with logic and more about motivating someone to hand over their money to you by using emotion rather than logic.