>> Article Archives >> Sales Coaching >> "Personality" Makes The Sale

Sales Coaching
"Personality" Makes The Sale
By Helen Berman

All of us in sales are really in the personality business.

High energy, sociable, outgoing personality seeks long-term, mutually profitable relationship. I'm ambitious, goal-oriented, competitive, driving, and can get things done quickly. I like to think autonomously, take risks, and seek acclaim. Although occasionally restless and impatient-and not so great with details - Seeking to close deal (advertising or other sales) with prospects and clients who can benefit from what I have to offer. I can be counted on to get my job done. I am looking to close the deal.

Here's my point: All of us in sales are really in the personality business. You just read a description of my own personality, using exact words and phrases from my McQuaig System personality test result. According to the test, I'm a High Dominant, High Sociable personality type, and I'm willing to bet that most sales reps are the same. We all like the spotlight, and we like convincing others of our point of view.

Like any relationship, though, a sale isn't done in a vacuum. At least two people come to the table, you and the prospect. If the prospect isn't your "type," you can't just move on to the next one. You have to be willing to hang in there, to accommodate and adjust.

How do you do it?

First, follow the old dictum: Know thyself. Either through honest self-reflection or maybe through your own personality test figure out what motivates you in a sale.

Ask yourself:
  • Are you more dominant than social, needing to command the situation rather than get to know your prospect?
  • Are you more sociable than dominant, caving in on a deal so your prospect will like you?
Second, learn to balance your personality traits. Just as people with muscular legs prefer running to weightlifting, so do dominant personalities prefer talking to listening. Although it's fine to lead with our strengths-great talking skills are always welcome in sales-it's just as important to flex our other listening "muscles" to keep them from atrophying.

Finally, learn to read your prospect. All of us in sales need a quick, accurate way of observing another's personality and buying style. When we know whom we're dealing with, we can adjust our own styles to make others comfortable with us. Rather than try to push along an analytical prospect, for instance, we can choose to slow down and listen more carefully in order to get the results.

Each prospect, of course, is unique and complex. But by and large, all of us in sales deal with four basic personality types: sociable, dominant, relaxed and compliant. According to McQuaig, here's a quick primer on how to recognize each type, along with suggestions on and how to deal with each. See if any sound like the clients you know.

The Dominant Type.

This prospect is a big-picture thinker, technically oriented, thriving on change. The good news is that she's confident, resourceful, and willing to listen to new ideas. The bad news is that she can be arrogant, belligerent, and insistent on having her own way.
You'll recognize her by: Expensive but casual dress (dominant types dress to please themselves, not others). She wears little jewelry, but she'll probably have a black or silver high-tech watch. You'll find high-tech gadgets and award and trophies in her office. Expect her to control the conversation, interrupt and want to get straight to the point.

How to sell a dominant prospect: She's a real dealmaker. She'll want best position in your magazine, and at the best price. If you've got a new cutting-edge Web site or other product, she'll want to hear about it. But let her call the shots, and make sure she knows, up front, what's in it for her. Be accommodating. Listen hard, respond directly, and talk hard facts if you're sure you can back them up. Bottom line: If a dominant personality wants to be in your magazine, she'll sell herself.
The Sociable Type.

He's a friendly, talkative prospect who's enthusiastic, gregarious, and socially poised. This prospect is usually a real pleasure to visit, the kind who'll pat your back and make you feel at ease.
You'll recognize him by: Stylish, status-oriented designer clothes, impeccable grooming, expensive jewelry (particularly gold) and a Mont Blanc pen. Family photos abound in the office, as do fine murals, views and other visual stimulation. This prospect will remember your name, ask about your family and make jokes while ferrying a dozen phone calls.

How to sell a sociable prospect: He's a status-seeker who likes to feel important. To win his confidence, mention other big-name advertisers in your publication, as well as any personal referrals or testimonials. Emphasize your publication's service and follow-through. Use lots of tear sheets and other visual devices in your presentation. You'll also win points if you compliment him on the wonderful office view, the Persian rug and other symbols of his success. Bottom line: Sociable types need to check with others before committing to a sale. Offer to support them in that process, and don't forget to follow through after the close!
The Relaxed Type.

This is a patient, methodical, change-resistant type who can be a real challenge to a dominant, sociable salesperson. He's relaxed, passive and unhurried, but the good news is that once you win over a relaxed prospect, you'll likely have his business for years to come.
You'll recognize him by: Comfortable, familiar clothes, a watch he's been wearing for 20 years straight, and a briefcase that looks handed down from his father. He might even be wearing the company ring or badge, and he'll likely have some kind of Rotary Club plaque on the wall. The office is comfy and well-worn, and if your prospect likes to have lunch at 12:35, don't expect to set up a 12:45 appointment. Once you do get your appointment, don't be in a hurry. A relaxed prospect needs time to loosen up.

How to sell a relaxed prospect: Be reassuring. This prospect wants only to do business with reputable, familiar magazines, and with a reputable, familiar salesperson. Assure him of your publication's quality reputation, experience and service. Mention names of other quality advertisers. Show your knowledge and authority of the prospect's marketplace, and be sure to arrive promptly at any appointments. Don't push for the close; this prospect will take his time, and you should insist on it. Bottom line: You'll need to meet with him several times to build up his confidence in you and your publication. After the sale, keep assuring him that he made the right decision.
The Compliant Type.  

She's a by-the-book prospect who's accurate, careful, disciplined and dutiful. She's typically smart and thorough, someone who not only wants all the I's dotted, but knows just how they should be done.
You'll recognize her by: Clean, tidy grooming, conventional clothing, and traditional office d

An exciting speaker and inspiring sales mentor, Helen Berman has appeared at dozens of media conferences and seminars worldwide, in addition to writing popular sales columns for Folio and Expo magazines. She's also written the two-volume book, Ad Sales: Winning Secrets of the Magazine Pros and is working on a new book, Integrated Media Sales: Beyond the Page, Beyond the Banner. To contact Helen directly, call 310-230-3899 or learn more online

More articles by Helen Berman
More articles on Sales Coaching