The idea of “the sales personality” is one of the hottest topics I see.  Of all the blogs that I write, all of the comments that I make on LinkedIn, and all of the discussions that I have about sales – topics that address sales personality are the most contentious.  More people find my blog searching for “sales personality” than any other keyword.

And guess what – the idea of “the sales personalty” is pure fiction.

If you have worked with more than a few salespeople, you will have seen a wide variety of personality traits, none of which consistently correlate to success or failure.  Often enough, the shy introspective person is a much better salesperson than the outgoing funny one.  Or the nerdy analytical one sells the pants off of the one with the designer clothes and smooth charm. Or how often does the great story teller get so wrapped up in the story that he forgets to sell something.  Too often.  As much as some people “just look like natural born salespeople”, there is no such creature.

So why is there so much talk about sales personality?  Proponents of the “sales personality idea” are either selling a personality test or they have not thought hard enough about what they are looking for in a salesperson.

Sales is a discipline.  Selling is a process. These things take work.  Sports analogies are often used in sales, and the talent argument is used there too.  If you actually watch sports, you realize that the “talented” players work very hard on improving their skills.  And then there are those players with “a lot of heart” – those who supposedly are not “naturally gifted”, but work hard and succeed anyways.  We want to believe in natural born talent, and we create narratives around them.  Human beings are good at creating those kinds of rationalizations, but that doesn’t make them true, valid, and certainly not predictive.

So what should you look for to help predict sales success?  The answer is intuitive, but that doesn’t keep people from ignoring it anyways.  The two most important things you need to succeed in sales are:

  • The desire to succeed in sales
  • The commitment to do what it takes (within ethical boundaries) to succeed in sales

Some personality tests claim to test for these, but if you look closely, they test for desire and commitment in general.  I know plenty of people who have desire for something other than sales, but not sales.  Same for commitment.

In my consulting and recruiting practice, we focus on desire and commitment in too many ways to articulate in a simple blog post.  Developing and following a sales process is – in my experience – the best way to embody this desire and commitment – so that you know what you want to do, attempt to do it, and honestly evaluate your own sales efforts with more than just the benefit of hindsight and rationalization to fall back on.

When you want to improve it takes work, but when you work to improve, you can – no matter what your personality!


Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!