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Psychology of Sales: Use Your Personality Type to Your Advantage

Psychology of Sales: Use Your Personality Type to Your Advantage

It doesn't matter if you're an extrovert or an introvert, or which four letters are in your personality profile. Anyone can be a successful salesperson.

Many years ago, Carl Jung researched and proposed the existence of 16 personality types. Using a test called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or the MBTI, which has a minimum of 93 questions, people can find out which type they are. Each type is comprised of four pairs of personality factors: introversion (I) and extroversion (E), intuition (N) and sensing (S), thinking (T) and feeling (F), and judging (J) and perceiving (P). These factors are represented by a letter, and the combination of the four letters is your type.

Once you’ve taken the test, you can find out how much each personality factor affects your disposition. In the sales profession, some people may think only certain personalities can be successful; for example, it’s a common belief that only extroverts can close deals and relate to customers. According to research, however, introversion is slightly more common than extroversion overall, and it takes both extroverts and introverts to build a successful sales team.

Use your personality profile to your advantage. No matter if you’re an INTJ or an ESFP, you can reach and convert customers. Learn more about your personality type, and how to use it to your advantage, in the infographic below.

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  • The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) describes psychological types outlined by Carl Jung
    • These types theorize that variations in behaviour are predictable and understandable
    • People’s behaviour is based on how they prefer to use their perception and judgment
  • When it comes to sales, this test helps the buyer and seller understand each other

Extroversion May Not Be the #1 Quality in Salespeople

  • The correlation between extroversion and sales performance is essentially zero: 0.07
  • Why do introverts make excellent salespeople?
    • Study their offerings so they know all the strengths and weaknesses
    • Know exactly who their ideal prospects are
    • Prepare their presentations and anticipate objections
    • Consider the long-term value of customers
    • Great at listening to customers
    • Build deep, long-term relationships with prospects
  • Why do extroverts make great salespeople?

    • Good at meeting new people, networking, and making business connections
    • Quickly adapt to the demands of sales
    • Comfortable calling people on the phone to chat anytime
    • Can often instantly find common ground and build rapport with prospects
    • Tend to handle rejection well
  • The key to being a successful salesperson? Understanding what type of salesperson you are and how to utilize your personality to your advantage

The Personality Alphabet

  • The MBTI® has a minimum of 93 questions
    • Scored with a 4-letter type based on 4 pairs of traits
    • There are 16 different personality types
  • Some personality types are more prevalent than others, especially in sales
    • Those with a type less common in the population will have natural talents that are in greater demand
    • Salespeople with more common personality types easily connect with people who think and behave similarly
  • What percentage of the population is your personality type?

    • Analysts

      • INTJ – 2.1%
      • INTP – 3.3%
      • ENTJ – 1.8%
      • ENTP – 3.2%
    • Diplomats
      • INFJ – 1.46%
      • INFP – 4.4%
      • ENFJ – 2.5%
      • ENFP – 8.1%
    • Sentinels
      • ISTJ – 11.6%
      • ISFJ – 13.8%
      • ESTJ – 8.7%
      • ESFJ – 12.3%
    • Explorers
      • ISTP – 5.4%
      • ISFP – 8.8%
      • ESTP – 4.3%
      • ESFP – 8.5%

How You Get Your Energy: Introversion versus Extroversion

  • Introversion – 50.7% of the population
    • Has nothing to do with shyness or reclusiveness
    • Get their energy from within
    • Enjoy deep one-on-one conversations
    • Prefer email over telephone
    • Like to express ideas in writing so they can self-reflect
    • Tend to think before they speak
    • If you’re an introverted salesperson
      • Ask coworkers not to interrupt you when you’re working
      • Give yourself time to think about proposals
      • Do as much of your work as you can over email
      • Make sure people know your silence means you’re thinking
      • Have in-depth discussions with customers
  • Extroversion – 49.3% of the population
  • Get their energy from people, places, and stimuli outside of them
    • Can be incredible listeners
    • Draw people out with open-ended questions and paraphrasing
    • Develop rapport and know how to make people comfortable
    • If you’re an extroverted salesperson
      • Talk face-to-face or over the phone to prospects
      • Touch base with contacts frequently and quickly
      • Keep discussions broad, with the big picture in mind
      • Reach out to coworkers to brainstorm or discuss proposals out loud

How You Process Information: Intuition versus Sensing

  • Intuition – 26.7% of the population
    • Solve problems by leaping between different ideas and possibilities
    • Interested in doing things that are new and different
    • Like to see the big picture, then find out the facts
    • Trust impressions, symbols, and metaphors more than what they actually experienced
    • If you’re an intuitive salesperson
      • Understand your company’s products and why they help customers
      • Convey long-term benefits to customers first
      • Have a process for how you’ll walk a prospect through the funnel
  • Sensing – 73.3% of the population
    • Solve problems by working through facts
    • Pragmatic and look at the bottom line
    • Start with facts and then form a big picture
    • Trust experience first and trust words and symbols less
    • If you’re a sensitive salesperson
      • Discuss concrete facts
      • Focus on the next practical step for prospects
      • Have a plan or timeline for when each step of the sale should be initiated and how

How You Make Decisions: Thinking versus Feeling

  • Thinking – 40.2% of the population

    • Enjoy working with logic
    • Notice inconsistencies
    • Look for logical explanations or solutions to most everything
    • Make decisions with their heads and want to be fair
    • Believe telling the truth is more important than being tactful
    • If you’re a thinking salesperson
    • Learn and support your prospect’s criteria for evaluating your offerings
    • Showcase the tangible benefits of your products and services
    • Be logical when discussing costs and debating benefits
  • Feeling – 59.8% of the population

    • Have a people or communications orientation
    • Concerned with harmony and nervous when it is missing
    • Look for what is important to others and express concern for others
    • Make decisions with their hearts and want to be compassionate
    • Believe being tactful is more important than telling the “cold” truth
    • If you’re a feeling salesperson
      • Focus on areas of agreement between you and the prospect
      • Recognize and support what your customer needs
      • Demonstrate the positive impact your offering will have
      • Don’t take conflict or criticism personally

How You Live Your Life: Judging versus Perceiving

  • Judging – 54.1% of the population

    • Like to have things decided
    • Appear to be task oriented
    • Like to make lists of things to do
    • Like to get work done before playing
    • Plan work to avoid rushing just before a deadline
      • If you’re a judging salesperson
      • Have a purpose or agenda for your interactions
      • Work with timelines and adjust as necessary
      • Always be prepared for a prospect to change his or her mind
  • Perceiving – 45.9% of the population
    • Like to stay open to respond to whatever happens
    • Appear to be casual and prefer to keep plans to a minimum
    • Like to approach work as play or mix work and play
    • Work in bursts of energy
    • Stimulated by an approaching deadline
    • If you’re a perceiving salesperson
      • When new information comes up, consider how it affects all aspects of the sale
      • Expect to meet deadlines at the last minute
      • Schedule meetings to go longer than you think they really will


People of all types can be succesfull in sales. Take your strenghts and personality traits and use them to your advantage to close deals and build your career.

Accelerate your sales performance: 7 tips for sales success. Get the ebook.

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