June 17, 2017 by Ashwini Murthy

People have different motives in interactions, be it work-related or personal life. Some are self-serving and focus on what they can get out of the interaction. Some focus on what they can do for others. Like Adam Grant put it on his TED talk, there are 3 kinds of people – Givers, Takers, and Matchers. Matchers fall somewhere in the middle. They carry characteristics of both givers and takers and maintain a balance between giving and taking. They reciprocate and expect reciprocation. Quid pro quo.

Takers are usually categorized as narcissists. But, not all takers are that way. Some givers turn into takers after being burnt one too many times.

According to Grant, givers in workplace scenarios were usually among the poorest performers. They spent most of their time doing others favors than actually doing their task. In sales, the least revenue generated was by the most generous salespeople. He talked to one such salesperson and asked him, “What is the cost of this generosity? Why are you a poor performer?” The salesperson said, “Well, Adam, I care too much about my customer that I won’t sell him any of our crappy products.

A Harvard study says, “good sales reps should not only empathize with the customers but also should have the ‘ego drive’ to make the sale”

So, are all givers a liability to the organization? Not quite so. Turns out, givers make the organizations better. The more they spend time on helping and sharing knowledge, providing mentoring, etc. the better organizations perform on every metric – profits, lower operating expenses, customer satisfaction, employee retention, etc.

Let’s look at sales rep as a giver and as a taker. In Wolf of Wall Street, DiCaprio (Jordan) is the perfect example of a salesperson as a taker. Sure, he sold exceptionally better than others. But, he faked the giver personality. His customers believed they were cared for. He only cared about making more money. He had very high ‘ego drive’ but very little empathy.

On the other side, we have Will Smith as Chris Gardner from Pursuit of Happyness. He finished his dead-end cold call with a proper thank you without hanging up in the middle, even if it added 8 minutes to his whole day. He always put his customers before his sale.  

Givers comprise a majority of the worst performers, true. But a majority of the best ones are also givers.

In sales prospecting, a giver may take more time to close deals and generate revenue. But they are usually the best at maintaining a good relationship with their prospects and customers. A giver always makes his clients feel like they’re being watched out for. Unfortunately for organizations, you can’t identify a giver or a taker before hiring them. It is easy to practice being a giver till you slowly become one.

Here are ways in which a salesperson can be more giving:

  • Open channel of communication

It is very important to prove to your client that you are watching out for them. A simple way to do that would be to share your learnings. If you come across a good article that you think would benefit your client, send it across. Another way to do this would be, share how similar companies are tackling similar problems. That way they’ll know you care.

  • Add value outside sales

A perfect example for this would be corporate box tickets in games. In Pursuit of Happyness, Will Smith is taken to a game by one of his prospects where he gets to build a network. Be that person who takes customers for a game of football.

  • Make connections

A good friend of mine is an entrepreneur and he has a policy – every day he will make at least one introduction between two of his connections. Over a year, he’d make over 300 such introductions. Think of how rich and connected his network is, all because of him paying it forward. Not all of them will buy from him but the goodwill it generates helps over time.

If you are a giver, tell us how you have given to your prospects and customers and how it has helped you become better at sales prospecting.





Ashwini Murthy

Content marketer @ PipeCandy

A writer by day. Illustrator by night. Currently trying to conquer the B2B marketing world one baby step at a time. Loves everything outside her comfort zone.