The Coaching Effect Blog

The Coaching Effect Blog

    Givers, Takers and Matchers: As a sales manager which one is best?

    by Sherri Daubert / March 27, 2014

    Photo by Hattie Kingsley Photography

    What do successful sales managers have that differentiates them from others?  Why do they rise to the top more quickly than some or why do they rise to the top at all?    According to Adam Grant, renowned organizational psychologist and professor at the Wharton School of Business the answer resides in what your true motivation is when you interact with others.



    In his book Give and Take he discusses the traits that make successful people, successful.     

    1. They are hard workers with very high work ethics.
    2. They are talented. They possess a unique skill they have become really good at and turned that talent into success.
    3. They are lucky.   The old saying about that rings true right?   “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” Regardless of how you choose to describe it, these folks are more often than not, in the right place at the right time. 

    So one would think then if you want to be successful follow this recipe: Be a hard worker, be talented and be lucky.   But Grant ponders “How do our motives, that we bring to our interactions with others, shape the results that we achieve in terms of the promotions we get and the salaries we command?”  In other words are our motives the real definition of what makes us successful or not?  

    Reciprocity Styles

    According to Dr. Grant there are 3 kinds of people as it applies to our reciprocity goals in approaching interactions:  

    1. Givers
    2. Takers
    3. Matchers

     GIVERS  reside at one end of the spectrum and are the souls who are constantly on the lookout to benefit others in their interactions.  They are not necessarily donating or volunteering but doing things like offering help, making an introduction and connecting people.    Theirs is not a strategic or calculated maneuver because ultimately they expect nothing in return.   In their eyes the concept of “debt of gratitude” is something that simply does not exist.          

    TAKERS  occupy the other end of the spectrum and spend their time thinking “how can I get as much from others as I possibly can?”  In their interactions they are constantly on the lookout for ways to best claim value and simultaneously offer very little to nothing in return.   

    MATCHERS    Pure takers and givers are rare and the midpoint lies in matchers where you might have guessed most of us are.   Matchers want to keep life balanced and full of fairness and they believe in the “ Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”  philosophy.  This seems like the best and smartest way to live your life and keep track.  But is it?


    Grant collected data on several industries as well as completing a study on salespeople in which they did a survey to determine where salespeople saw themselves in terms of being a giver, taker or matcher.    As you may have surmised, givers ended up at the very bottom with the lowest revenue of all sales people annually.   And it makes some sense if you think about it because as a giver, your focus is on helping people so instead of selling them something you want to accommodate them.   And that can sometimes be tricky as well as counterintuitive in sales.


    If givers are at the bottom, one might conclude then that matchers are the big winners, because who wants a taker to be the one who walks away with the goods?     The surprise according to the data reviewed, is givers are the big winners here as well.   There is an over representation of givers at both the bottom of the pile and the very top which means the people giving away the farm are the same ones endorsing statements like “ I love helping people and I expect nothing in return.”  In fact according to the data the very best salespeople across several industries are the ones that see themselves as being a giver.   

    To find out which style you are, take Dr. Grants assessment for evaluation at Give and Take Assess and stay tuned to future posts to discover what the difference is between givers at the top of group and givers at the bottom.   

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