Paschal Agonsi

Personality: The New Way to Sell

personality smiling woman leaning on table

In a highly competitive market, a unique personality is the best strategy to differentiate your business and gain customer loyalty.

Selling as we know it is dead. People rarely attend to the typical salesman today. They avoid them and rather use more trusted sources to get their needs met. The typical salesman has the deception stereotype written all over him. His sales tactics are often seen through the lens of disbelief and distrust. For sales reps to survive, the role of personality must be taken seriously.

According to Google, Personality is the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character.

Cambridge defines personality as the special combination of qualities in a person that makes that person different from others, as shown by the way the person behaves, feels, and thinks. 

A characteristic way of thinking, feeling, and behaving. Personality embraces moods, attitudes, and opinions and is most clearly expressed in interactions with other people. (Britannica)

Components of Personality

So what exactly makes up a personality? As described in the definitions above, you would expect that traits and patterns of thought and emotion play important roles. According to VeryWellMind, some of the other fundamental characteristics of personality include:

Consistency: There is generally a recognizable order and regularity to behaviours. Essentially, people act in the same ways or similar ways in a variety of situations.

Psychological and physiological: Personality is a psychological construct, but research suggests that it is also influenced by biological processes and needs.

It impacts behaviours and actions: Personality does not just influence how we move and respond in our environment; it also causes us to act in certain ways.

Multiple expressions: Personality is displayed in more than just behaviour. It can also be seen in our thoughts, feelings, close relationships, and other social interactions.

What Does a Sales Personality Mean?

Priti Ramjee, a business expert, says that “A person with a sales personality focuses is on making the close. A sales person has characteristics vital to sales success. He is driven by challenges with a mission to close.

“People may see a person with a sales personality as friendly and outgoing but what they may not recognize is that he is friendly and a people-person with a purpose. He speaks to people, assessing if this person may be a target customer. A person with a sales personality focuses on one thing — making the sale happen.”

4 Key Attributes of successful sales people:

Behavioral traits of a sales person include assertiveness with an outgoing personality. Top sales performers rank on the top end of the assertiveness scale. They are comfortable speaking up and asking questions. A person with an assertive sales personality can convince a customer to agree with him and has no reluctance in closing the sale. Someone with a relaxed personality may show the ability to cope but may not have the drive to succeed in a fast-paced, time-sensitive environment and therefore, may not be a good sales person.

One aspect of a sales person is the ability to be flexible. Some customers are in a hurry and like to get to the bottom line quickly. Others are calm and collected, wanting to take the time to hear all the details before making a decision. A person with a flexible sales personality can be in coordination with the pace and tone of the customer. She does not impose her dynamic personality on a patient customer, nor would she be reserved in her approach to a dynamic, energized customer.

People with high achieving sales personalities are motivated by the challenge to beat their own track record and surpass all others. They are comfortable pursuing aggressively. In a negotiation, a sales person listens to be polite but tends to be dominant. He is always thinking about the next step or different alternatives to make the sale. The one trait a sales person needs to develop is to listen to a prospect’s objections and opinions in order to present satisfactory alternatives.

People Person
A sales person loves to be around people and can easily form relationships. He is comfortable with social interaction and may be the one who mingles the most at a party. There is a fine line between a person with a sales personality and just another friendly person. A friendly person’s focus may be on forming a relationship and in the process, miss identifying target customers, whereas a person with a sales personality shows moderation in affiliation and warmth, always focusing on the business prospect

Martin’s Seven Personality Traits of Top Salespeople

According to a 2011 Harvard Business Review publication by Steve Martin, a survey was conducted among top sales people. The following are seven Personality traits of top sales people.

1. Modesty. Contrary to conventional stereotypes that successful salespeople are pushy and egotistical, 91 per cent of top salespeople had medium to high scores of modesty and humility. Furthermore, the results suggest that ostentatious salespeople who are full of bravado alienate far more customers than they win over.

2. Conscientiousness. Eighty-five per cent of top salespeople had high levels of conscientiousness, whereby they could be described as having a strong sense of duty and being responsible and reliable. These salespeople take their jobs very seriously and feel deeply responsible for the results.

3. Achievement Orientation. Eighty-four per cent of the top performers tested scored very high in achievement orientation. They are fixated on achieving goals and continuously measure their performance in comparison to their goals.

4. Curiosity. Curiosity can be described as a person’s hunger for knowledge and information. Eighty-two percent of top salespeople scored extremely high curiosity levels. Top salespeople are naturally more curious than their lesser performing counterparts.

5. Dominance. Dominance is the ability to gain the willing obedience of customers such that the salesperson’s recommendations and advice are followed. The results indicate that overly friendly salespeople are too close to their customers and have difficulty establishing dominance.

6. Lack of Discouragement. Less than 10 per cent of top salespeople were classified as having high levels of discouragement and being frequently overwhelmed with sadness. Conversely, 90 per cent were categorized as experiencing infrequent or only occasional sadness. Top sales people mentally prepare themselves for the next opportunity to compete.

7. Lack of Self-Consciousness. Self-consciousness is the measurement of how easily someone is embarrassed. The byproduct of a high level of self-consciousness is bashfulness and inhibition. Less than five per cent of top performers had high levels of self-consciousness. Top salespeople are comfortable fighting for their cause and are not afraid of rankling customers in the process. They are action-oriented and unafraid to call high in their accounts or courageously cold call new prospects.


Not all salespeople are successful. Given the same sales tools, level of education, and propensity to work, why do some salespeople succeed where others fail? Is one better suited to sell the product because of his or her background? Is one more charming or just luckier? The evidence suggests that the personalities of these truly great salespeople play a critical role in determining their success.

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