By Tom Reilly, author of Value-Added Selling

A Google search for “Sales Secrets” yielded 18 million hits. One article offered 25 secrets. Really, that many secrets? There were multiple seven-secret articles and several three-secret articles. Why read a paltry three-secret article when a 25-secret article is available? Some are obvious to the point of embarrassment: Timing is everything, and only sell to people who want to buy. Most share common themes: Practice the A-B-C’s of selling—always be closing; People buy quarter-inch holes, not quarter-inch drills; and No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. Some are downright ridiculous: Stay healthy, selling is good theatre, and be a happy loser.

There are three absolutes for sales success. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

The nascent field of neuroscience—young, compared to other scientific disciplines—offers some insight into the potential everyone has for sales success. Through sophisticated brain imaging technology, neuroscientists have identified an altruism gene. Stated differently, humans are hard-wired for altruism. Humans are wired to think in terms bigger than themselves. Humans are biologically predisposed to set aside self-interests for the good of the species.

Preservation of the species is not limited to humans. In the animal kingdom, there are examples of one animal species rescuing a different species. The L.A Times, People Magazine, and BBC documented heart-warming acts of kindness. In a German zoo, a Dachshund adopted a tiger cub rejected by its own mother after its birth. In a Russian zoo, a German Shepard adopted a litter of cougar cubs when the staff felt the parents might become too aggressive with the cubs. In New Zealand, a dolphin rescued a pygmy sperm whale and her calf that were caught on a sandbank. Even Koko, the famous hand-signing gorilla, expressed a fondness for kittens. Caring is instinctual.

For humans, altruism manifests perceptually as empathy: It is the ability to see another’s point of view. Empathy is the antecedent of fairness and understanding. One could argue empathy is foundational to integrity. How can one be truly empathic when sacrificing another’s welfare for personal gain?

So, if there is a secret to sales success, it must be to follow one’s natural instinct to view things from the customer’s point of view, pursue fairness in all transactions, and build relationships on mutual trust.

This article is excerpted from Tom Reilly’s new book, The Humility Paradox, available at AMAZON. Read and comment on this article at

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