Earlier this week one of my mentors, Jerry Anderson, shared with me a copy of a sales newsletter to which he subscribes. The highlighted blog was titled “Why don’t salespeople learn? Are they lazy or over-confident?”, and it was written by sales coach Andy Paul. The article reflected several issues which I consistently hear from commercial real estate brokers and managers.

As I routinely share, I love to read and have no problem offering other sales coach’s content that I believe to be of great value to our audience. Plus, we focus solely in the commercial real estate arena, so I like to put a CRE spin on the valuable messages from leading general sales gurus.

In this article, Mr. Paul continuously referred to the The Dunning-Kruger effect, and how it helps explain why many sales people are less skilled. Such insight is critical to any commercial real estate agent, and their owner/manager too.

According to Mr. Paul, “The Dunning-Kruger effect is a well-known phenomenon named after the social psychologists who first documented it. The first part of the Dunning-Kruger effect, to put it in sales terms, states that those sales people who are less skilled, or less competent, are less likely to recognize their weaknesses or deficiencies.”

Imagine, those who are struggling, or inconsistent producers believe they are doing just “fine”. And that’s a big problem. What is “fine” to a poor performer, is not fine to the owner/manager of the brokerage firm.

Mr. Paul continued to note that “Instead, the primary culprit appears to be the inability of sales people to accurately assess the state of their own competence. Or, as the case may be, their incompetence.”

As a result, these under-skilled salespeople actually over-estimate their capabilities. And, since they truly believe they are more capable than they actually are — they are less likely to proactively seek out new knowledge to learn more about sales, or to otherwise invest in their professional development.

I call this behavior confident incompetence.

The second part of the Dunning-Kruger effect states, in sales terms, that those sellers who develop their competence and become more skilled, are more likely to recognize just how much more they need to learn to further improve their capabilities. In fact, Dunning and Kruger found that this same group of high-performers were “more likely to underestimate, and be unsure of, just how capable they were — because they were acutely aware of just how much more there was to learn about sales.”

To summarize — consistent and top producers recognize they can always do better, there is always something more to learn or skills to acquire or enhance. While inconsistent performers truly believe they are doing “fine” and cannot recognize their production deficiencies.

Thank you to Andy Paul for highlighting this issue, which is not only abundant in commercial real estate, but in all sales professions.


If you are tired of doing just “fine”, or you are a consistent performer that knows you can always improve — The Massimo Group has a program to help you transform your personal commercial real estate practice. For a free strategy session with one of our program consultants, click here.

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