Why can’t most sales reps be trusted to conduct double-enders equitably or ethically?
Here is the short answer:
It simply is not in their collective nature to do so.
Here is the long answer:
During the early 1960s, psychological studies were conducted by Stanford University psychology professor Walter Mischel regarding the self-control instincts – or lack thereof – of humans. Mischel was interested in the phenomenon of short-term gratification behaviour. But there was a twist; the experiments were conducted on preschoolers. Some of you might remember the children and the marshmallow experiments.
The children – mostly one at a time, but sometimes two at a time – were seated at a small table in a sterile room with a one-way mirror placed on a wall facing the children. An adult who was familiar to the children would place a single marshmallow on the table in front of the child and/or in front of each of the children, one for each child. They were told they could eat the marshmallow right then and there, or after the adult left the room. But before they could get to the marshmallow, they were told that if they left the marshmallow alone until the adult returned (no time limit specified), they would receive a second marshmallow as a reward. The children were told there would be no penalty if they ate the original marshmallow before the adult returned. The adult then left, and a camera recorded the children’s behaviours from behind the mirror.
About 80 per cent of the children ate the original marshmallows. Some would eat them right away, while others fought an internal battle with themselves, reaching for the marshmallows, putting them back, licking them and then putting them back, taking small bites and putting them back. Some made anguished facial expressions while fighting the urge to eat the marshmallows. About 20 per cent waited for the return of the adults. Some of this group had trouble waiting, reaching for the marshmallows and then withdrawing their hands, while others created diversionary tactics to keep their minds off the marshmallows. A few calmly sat still and waited for their rewards.
This experiment was conducted repeatedly during ensuing years with children from different racial, ethnic, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, and the results were always the same. Here is the interesting part: many of the children were later contacted over the years – as many as 50 years – as they transitioned through their lives. The object of the experiments was to study the children-turned-adults regarding how well they fared throughout their lives.
Not surprisingly, the twenty per cent who displayed the ability to think and plan, to exercise self-control (the self-discipline inherently required to forestall immediate gratification) at that very young pre-school age, fared better during their lives than did the 80 per cent group, both academically and interpersonally. Their lives were less chaotic.
It seems that self-discipline and forward thinking (the ability to offset immediate gratification) are attributes that naturally reside within about 20 per cent of our psyches, right from the get-go. Eighty per cent of us do not posses this attribute…unless we ultimately recognize this fact as we mature and consciously practice methods to allow us to self-actualize and develop this attribute going forward. Otherwise, we do not change our behaviour and we go through life addicted to short-term gratification.
How does this knowledge have anything to do with dual agency?
We already know that about 80 per cent of all real estate salespeople wannabes fall by the wayside within five years of receiving their licenses. Therefore, about 80 per cent of all salespeople in the field on any given day are failures-in-waiting. To that end they are likely not doing very well up until their careers finally expire. They are likely short-term commission-chasers who do not have the inherent ability to see the results of current behaviour down the road.
It seems to follow that they will go for the quick-fix – immediate gratification, the marshmallows (read: double-enders) on the table staring them in the face due to their short-sighted personality traits that kick in when the big hit is so, so close. They simply cannot be trusted to go against their innate human nature that about 80 per cent of us share with them. They will say and do whatever is necessary to score that big financial candy right now, rather than take the chance that they will get only half of the candy/commission – or worse yet, no commission at all – if they can’t pull the deal together. Or if they advise their buyer-caller, and possibly even that same buyer-caller who has been shown through the property by the listing salesperson, to deal with another salesperson from another brokerage in the name of practicing professionalism.
This is the reverse osmosis operation of the marshmallow experiments in action, but the result is the same. The immediate gratification factor sets in for all to see, usually about 80 per cent of the time, if not more.
One of the first pieces of advice that I received from the pros after getting into this business was this: Don’t ever let the buyers and sellers talk to one another, especially when working a double-ender, until after the deal has closed. Better yet, don’t ever let them talk to one another if you can help it. I wonder why that advice was pounded into my brain? You tell me.
The reason why “most” salespeople (I never said “all”) cannot be trusted to ethically/equitably conduct double-enders is thus revealed; they simply cannot trust themselves to do the right thing for anyone other than themselves under these circumstances. The short-term goal is simply too hard to resist.
They delude themselves into thinking they can conduct dual agency and achieve that immediate gratification…. two marshmallows (read: two commissions) instead of one, without causing any consternation for the opposing parties to the transactions. They forget about what should have been said or not said during showings, negotiations, consultations (read potential manipulations) and offer/acceptance advisories leading up to successful conclusions (for the salespeople) of transactions.
Government ideally exists to look out for all its constituents and not for just some. Government cannot ignore the failures of the 80 per cent just because 20 per cent can be trusted to do the right thing, all the time, every time…and even that presumption might be a stretch.