Although everyone has a different personality to some extent, solid research over the past fifty years has found that we can group individuals into four personality types: the Directive Driver, the Expressive Communicator, the Supportive Helper, and the Reflective Thinker. Since my first personality test in the 1970’s, literally dozens of other tests have been developed that help to measure the same four personality types, and they do a good job helping you to know your salespeople and whether or not they’ll have problems with their sales versatility. Using the traditional 4-style profile, those that fall into the middle have the most versatility, but those who fall into the corners need targeted training to help them better relate and communicate with their opposing styles.
Sales managers, with very little training, can significantly improve their salesperson’s versatility. First, help them recognize their own selling style by taking a personality assessment that measures the four styles. Second, help them recognize the four buying styles. Last, but not least, help them understand the sales process that honors the buyer’s unique style and results in the sale. For example, I recently reviewed the test results of one particular real estate salesperson who was “plotted” into the High Ego Drive, Low Empathy quadrant’s upper corner. His Directive Driver selling style was incompatible with the Supportive Helper’s buying style. His high Ego Drive caused him to be too direct and require too much control over the buyer. His lower Empathy caused him to appear too formal and professional. He lacked the expressive warmth that the Supportive Helper required. Rather than asking, he told. Rather than helping, he sold. I gave him a two-page report that described his style and what he needed to do to sell the opposing style. When the consultation was over, he felt confident the could take the “stretch.”