You’ve probably wondered this at some point in your sales career.
Usually this question arises after a particularly tough day, week or month of selling.
I am talking about that "Do I have what it takes?" question.
I got just this question emailed to me a couple of days ago. Reader Rahul Kashyap of Colorado writes in…
I’m curious if you think there’s a certain personality type needed to succeed in sales. I’m not talking about strong work ethic, persistence, or drive. Sometimes, especially after the tough month I’ve been having, it seems that you need to be incredibly likable and a back-slapping friend to everybody in order to succeed. What characteristics do you think make up a successful sales guy?
Rahul says he isn’t wondering if strong work ethic, persistence, or drive are what are required to succeed. He wants to know if the glad-handers and back-slappers of the world make the best salesmen.
Well here’s my take on this age-old question.
Many sales managers love the glad-handers and the back-slappers. When hiring time comes, these guys look like the naturals to succeed, so they get hired because they appear to be a lower-risk decision.
Personally I don’t find these personality traits necessary. Sure they can help in that extroverted people are more natural at networking and it’s effortless for them to approach strangers (i.e. new prospects).
Whether or not the extrovert or the introvert will be most successful in a sales position has a lot to do with the people being sold to though. If the prospect’s are introverted, like say many engineers or doctors for example, then an extrovert may turn these people off (I’ve seen it happen countless times).
Likewise an introvert is going to be challenged keeping up with the extroverted personalities of selling say a product or service to extroverted marketing managers.
But these are just tendencies, generalizations that are useless to you and I in evaluating are own personal situations.
What matters ARE the personality traits like a strong work ethic, persistence, and drive.
And I’ll add to this list another very important trait – flexibility.
Flexibility of behavior, flexibility of method, and flexibility of attitude combined with drive, persistence, and a strong work ethic will make your outer communication style irrelevant.
You CAN sell to any personality type. I personally am an "introvert" on a Myers-Briggs personality test. I learned a long time ago though how to be an extrovert. I "do" extroversion as I need to when selling or training new people and groups. In my personal life though I am more of an introvert preferring the ease and comfort of a few close friends.
I’ve learned to be flexible, and it has made me quite successful. There is no one personality type that best succeeds in sales. Just as there are different types of prospects, there are different types of sales people that can "naturally" in sell to them.
If you like what you are selling, you can expand your range of behavior, and expand the range of people you sell to. I highly recommend that you learn the flexibility of behavior I demonstrate in the rapport skills courses of my Persuasive Selling Skills Audio Program. You can pick up your copy over here now.
And I promise you that if you are having a hard time being recognized, heard, understood, or related to by your prospects then this is just the flexibility tune-up that you need right now.
Sell with Pride,
Shameless Shamus Brown