Category: Sales Traits


The Secret to Managing Salespeople? Start with Their Myers-Briggs…

If you’re looking for another article about why your sales team should only hire ESFJs, you’ve come to the wrong place.

While it’s true that not everyone is a perfect fit for the sales profession, most people just need the right motivation and management to thrive. And understanding your team’s personalities (as well as those of potential hires) can help you motivate, develop, train, and collaborate with individual contributors more effectively.

One of the best ways to approach personality in a concrete way is by using a personality framework such as MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator). 

Sales Personality Types

As a reminder, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® identifies 16 personality types that emerge from your preferences. Those preferences are:

  • Introversion vs. Extraversion (I or E)
  • Sensing vs. Intuition (S or N)
  • Thinking vs. Feeling (T or F)
  • Judging vs. Perceiving (J or P)

Administering the Myers-Briggs test allows you to discover your employee’s preferences, and it assigns each of them a four-letter “type” that encompasses their personality.

This type can then be used to understand the individual’s motivational factors. 

Identifying salespeople’s Myers-Briggs personality types is a great place to start when attempting to understand motivational factors. But how do you know which types will thrive in sales?

ESFJ (The Provider)

ESFJs are compassionate, enthusiastic, and friendly. Due to their Extraversion score, they are energized when working with people. This helps them maintain the same amount of passion for the work regardless of its ups and downs. In addition, due to the combination of their personality traits, you’ll find that ESFJs are motivated to help people (an excellent trait in sales) and adept at communicating and building rapport. All of these factors combined make ESFJs successful in sales roles.

ESTP (The Explorer)

ESTPs are personable, practical, and detail-oriented. Because ESTPs think logically, they may have a difficult time capitalizing on the whims and handling the objections of prospects who are emotional buyers. However, ESTPs are observant and pick up on things others might easily miss. They’re also truth-seekers, and they are not uncomfortable with getting pushy to make a sale as long as it makes logical sense for the prospect. With this in mind, ESTPs function best as closers.

ENTJ (The Visionary)

ENTJs are talkative, high-achievers who love to explore new ideas. Because they’re outcome-oriented and easily able to see the “big picture,” ENTJs are great for organizations with long sales cycles and structured sales processes. They’re skilled promoters, if a bit intense, who easily take charge of social situations.

INTJ (The Intellectual)

INTJ is a less obvious personality type for a sales role due to their Introversion and Thinking traits. INTJs will easily become drained by too much social interaction, which may sound counter-intuitive in sales.

However, introverts can be deceptively good at sales, particularly in subtler roles with more emphasis on inbound processes than pounding the pavement. INFJs are adept at analysis and logic, so they can excel when creating sales plans, perfecting processes, and spotting tactics that aren’t working. They’re also great at research, which can make prospecting a breeze.

ISTP (The Detective)

Similar to the INTJ, ISTPs are more reserved and find social situations taxing. At the same time, ISTPs are adaptable, self-sufficient, and spontaneous, which are all great traits for fast-paced sales roles. Because they’re logical and detail-oriented, they’re great “process people” and can excel as sales leaders and managers.

INFJ (The Counselor)

For INFJs, the Introversion score is a little misleading. While too much social interaction can be exhausting for them, many INFJs are more ambiverted in nature and highly attuned to the emotions and feelings of the people around them. In addition, INFJs tend to think both creatively and logically, tapping into their “whole brain” when applying skills and completing tasks. These two traits make them empathetic communicators and excellent troubleshooters, which is valuable in many sales roles.

However, INFJs are also passionate about making the world a better place and will become easily drained if there’s no altruistic aspect to their work. Many INFJs are energized by ongoing and constant improvement, working hard to impact the lives of those around them, and this makes them excellent at creating structure and processes for the team.

ESTJ (The Commander)

If you need a sales rep to come into an already-established process and thrive, the ESTJ is as good a hire as any. Their unique trait combinations make them uniquely able to abide by existing rules and structures. They take direction from leadership well and are self-motivators who hold themselves accountable. At the same time, they’re high-energy individuals who thrive on social interaction. ESTJs are detail-oriented, making them great listeners who take action on what prospects say.

Managing and Motivating Salespeople Based on Personality Type

Keep in mind that anyone can thrive in sales with the proper motivation and working environment. Now that you know more about the Myers-Briggs personality types and how they relate to sales, you can then make sales management decisions based on personality traits. 

Because it’s not always feasible to create a sales management plan based on each team member’s specific profile, I’ve created a quick cheat sheet that can help you manage all the 16 Myers-Briggs personalities like a pro, grouping each type into the following four commonly used buckets:

  • Explorers – ESTP, ISTP, ESFP, ISFP
  • Diplomats – INFJ, INFP, ENFJ, ENFP
  • Analysts – INTJ, INTP, ENTJ, ENTP
  • Sentinels – ISTJ, ISFJ, ESTJ, ESFJ


Charming, smart, enthusiastic, and energetic — explorers make some of the best salespeople around. They are social, enjoy being held to challenging metrics, and are always finding new ways to solve old problems.

To motivate this group, you’ll need a variety of strategies. ESTPs require a fun but firm manager. They live on the edge, so enlisting them to participate in high-risk, high-reward sales contests might yield impressive results. ISTPs like to keep things practical. Give them the task of searching for technology that will increase team efficiency and you’ll see them rise to the occasion.

A firm schedule is in order for your ESFPs. Their spontaneous nature is best harnessed with a little 9-to-5 rigidity. And for ISFPs, it’s good to be in the details. They’re artistic and charming, but might require a goal-oriented strategy to channel that creative energy into sales stats you can both be proud of. For instance, try holding them to activity metrics, like sending a certain number of emails every day, or breaking their monthly or quarterly quota into weekly numbers.


“Diplomatic” might not be a word commonly associated with salespeople, but it’s crucial to have a few of these personality types on your team. They may seem quiet or overly eager to please (which is not always a good thing in sales), but they’re also charismatic and hard-working until the end. In other words, diplomats are the salespeople you want by your side when you’re three hours and $10,000 shy of your quarterly sales deadline.

So how do you motivate them? INFJs really appreciate quality time. Make sure not to miss their weekly check-ins and always ask how they’re doing. For INFPs, acknowledgement is key. Did they break a personal record last quarter? Give them kudos at your next all-staff meeting.

Teamwork is an effective way to motivate ENFJs. Enlist them to mentor junior team members so they can teach others their tried-and-true selling tricks. Your ENFPs need a creative outlet every once in a while. Those may be few and far between in the world of sales, but you might consider allowing them to create a piece of sales enablement content for other reps instead of handing that task off to Marketing.


The analyst group is comprised of your most curious, bold, innovative, and strategic salespeople. They’re not satisfied with the processes or explanations your company has relied upon for years, and they love a good challenge.

INTJs do their best work when you, as their manager, outline a path to success. Have lofty goals for revamping your tired CRM workflow this quarter? Assign the task to your INTJ and put together a strategic plan for how they will succeed.

ENTJs are born leaders, so dangling a team mentor or sales management position in front of them is a great way to keep them focused and fulfilled. Oh, and ENTPs would prefer if you didn’t beat around the bush. Be open and honest about their performance this quarter, and you’ll receive respect and loyalty in return.


This unique group of personalities is here to keep your team grounded. Practical and detail-oriented, sentinels make great managers and caring teammates. To keep them motivated, consider a few of the suggestions below.

Make sure you keep challenging ISTJs. They love solving problems, so let them solve the most pressing ones facing your team or company — for instance, analyzing a decrease in ASP or crafting new positioning against an up-and-coming competitor. ISFJs rely heavily on specificity from their managers. Make sure their quarterly goals are thoroughly outlined and include an actionable path to success.

Speak logically with your ESTJs and you’ll be speaking their language. Reorganizing your sales regions? Explain the reasoning to your ESTJ to get them on board first. And be an involved manager with your ESFJs. They’re eager to help and will do their best work when you carefully outline their goals and check in regularly to make sure they’re aware of and meeting your expectations.

Bringing Out the Best in Your Sales Team

You probably didn’t hire a team comprised entirely of alpha salespeople. And, let’s be honest, that’s probably a good thing. What you really need is the skillset to manage each of your salespeople in a way that will bring out the best in each of them and contribute to your company’s bottom line.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in July 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.


What Type of Salesperson Are You? [Quiz]

While there’s no definitive standard for segmenting salespeople, there are some archetypes that sales professionals tend to fall into — categories that can help reps better understand how they sell and what they should work on.

Those categories are known as selling styles, and there are four that can capture the nature of almost every salesperson’s professional qualities and personal inclinations. Most of us are a combination of two or more styles, but every sales professional has one that stands out from the rest.

Here you’ll get some more perspective on what selling styles are, learn about those four main categories, and take a quiz that can tell you which one fits you best.

Selling styles aren’t set in stone. They’re not binding profiles that can tell you everything about how you conduct yourself as a salesperson. Still, they can offer some interesting perspective on what you do well and the strategies you can implement to take your sales efforts to the next level.

And while your results should be taken with a grain of salt, it’s still worth it to take a look at where you land.

Here are the four primary selling styles that most sales reps fall into.

1. Repairperson

The repairperson is at their best when solving a customer’s problem and will usually take a consultative approach to selling. They often come to sales after being an engineer, accountant, computer analyst, or some other technical profession.;

They are most comfortable when dealing with people with similar business backgrounds and technical expertise. For instance, an accountant will be more comfortable dealing with another accountant — or an engineer with an engineer. This allows them to display their superior technical abilities and “repair” the other person’s problem.

2. Shopkeeper

Shopkeepers have a pleasant personality and delight in helping people. They’re not particularly inclined to uncover needs, but if the prospect knows what they want, the shopkeeper can find it for them.

These salespeople like to be of service, and helping others is their strong suit. They’re more comfortable working in inside sales than others on this list, and they can often be found in retail sales or inbound telemarketing.

3. Hunter

Hunters thrive on seeking out new opportunities and opening doors. Hunters are likely to be self-assured, aggressive, highly focused, and driven. They’re the stereotypical “heavy-hitters.” Their eyes and minds are always on the horizon looking for the next kill.

As a result, even in good times, they’ll miss some opportunities lying at their feet. They tend to leave some half-alive opportunities in their wake. Having said that, they’re good people to have around when the sales funnel is empty.

4. Farmer

Farmers are good at technical, team, relationship, and consultative selling. They’re the masters of smooth, soft selling and are not afraid to ask for a prospect’s business. They are outgoing salespeople and big dreamers — sales reps with contagious enthusiasm and big personalities.

Farmers often go out of their way to help customers because they believe in the value of maintaining relationships. They sell intuitively with an emphasis on social interaction and a focus on having a good time.

Take this quiz to find your selling style.

As you read down the columns (A to D), check all the words and phrases that you feel describe you. Once complete, add up the total number in each column.

Now, you should have a number in each column. Next, subtract the C total from the A total. Do the same for the D total from the B total:

  • A – C = _____
  • B – D = _____

With these numbers, plot your results on the graph below.

A and C represent your y-axis. If A – C results in a positive number, plot the result on the y-axis below the (0) center, and if negative, above the (0) center.

B and D represent your x-axis. If B – D results in a positive number, plot your result on the x-axis to the right of the (0) center, and if negative, on the left side of the (0) center.

Sales style quiz 2

Finally, match up your results with the four styles below:

Primarily Analytical: Repairperson

Repairpeople thrive when talking to a prospect with similar technical knowledge, but they often run into trouble when interacting with non-technical decision-makers. They tend to get frustrated with prospects who have a more passive understanding of their product or industry.

Repairpeople are ideal for technical and consultative sales. They also prefer taking a soft-sell approach. They tend to be colder and more objective with prospects — believing that products should be sold on their merit as opposed to reps’ personalities.

These salespeople tend to methodically focus on each detail required to complete the sale. They aren’t comfortable selling without a comprehensive knowledge of their offering or supporting technical materials closeby. Repairpeople want presentations to be perfect — an inclination that can have both positive and negative ramifications.

On one hand, it makes for more thorough, successful technical presentations. On the other, it can reduce the number of resulting presentations and sales they conduct and land.

If you are an analytical repairperson, here are some things you can do to easily adjust your personality style:

  • Be more outgoing.
  • Share ideas and information with others.
  • Look for the positive in ideas.
  • Avoid giving too much detail.
  • Display sincere interest in others.

Primarily Amiable: Shopkeeper

Shopkeepers are generally warm, friendly, and service-oriented. They are often introverts and can be sensitive — sometimes to a fault. They often feel they must be liked and respected by their prospects. Sometimes, this makes them come across as being overbearing.

Shopkeepers are best suited for inside sales. They prefer to respond to others rather than initiate first contact, so practices like cold calling can be particularly difficult for them.

These salespeople don’t like to be perceived as pushy or aggressive and would prefer to make friends with customers than jeopardize the relationship by being too assertive. As a result, shopkeepers don’t make sales — they wait for  customers to buy.

Shopkeepers are at their best in a team selling or customer service role. They will bend over backward to help others but might give away too much if they’re not careful. They like to be liked and are very careful to not offend others.

That often makes shopkeepers have a more passive approach to selling where they want to establish a relationship before attempting to sell. That reluctance to be assertive means some sales never get started.

If you are an amiable shopkeeper, here are some things you can do to easily adjust your personality style:

  • Speed up your pace of speaking.
  • Let people know what you want.
  • Don’t become overly friendly.
  • Talk less.
  • Get involved and take control.

Primarily Driven: Hunter

When times are tight and sales opportunities are sparse, the Hunter will forge into new sales territories and find new prospects. They’re most effective when given the space to hunt indiscriminately and bring in anything they can find. Unfortunately, that often leads to these salespeople valuing quantity over quality with the opportunities they identify.

Hunters need to work with their sales managers to jointly determine which opportunities should be pursued and which should be given a decent burial. They also tend to resent bureaucracy and paperwork more than most other salespeople, so many fail to keep detailed records of their sales efforts.

In turn, they’re diligent when it comes to staying on top of their opportunities, but their managers are often kept in the dark. When it comes to sales techniques, hunters aren’t particularly creative. They prefer planned, proven, and direct approaches to pursuing opportunities.

They’re decisive, bold, and blunt in their efforts to close a sale. That said, hunters can be assertive to the point of aggressiveness and can come across as pushy.

If you are a driven hunter, here are some things you can do to easily adjust your personality style:

  • Slow down with people who speak slowly.
  • Make an effort to listen to others’ ideas.
  • Be careful not to dominate.
  • Allow others to have some control.
  • Show more patience.

Primarily Expressive: Farmer

Farmers thrive on nurturing and maintaining accounts or opportunities. Once they have a lead, these sellers spring into action, make contacts, and burrow their way into the account. They’re at their best when times are looking up and the sales ground is fertile.

But when times are tough and there aren’t real opportunities to work on, farmers tend to stand around, complain about the sales drought, and wish for better weather.

Unlike the hunter, farmers aren’t motivated by sales slumps. They’re more inclined to hunker down and tough it out rather than go out and make something happen.

Sometimes, getting farmers out of their barns is a challenge. They’d rather write letters, service marginal accounts, and make plans than start something new.

Farmers often take a very creative approach to speech and writing in their attempts to persuade the customer to buy — giving dynamic presentations and conducting thoughtful outreach.

But that creativity and energy can come with a less-than-ideal territory. Sometimes, farmers can come across as excitable, impatient, or superficial. If they want to get the most out of their sales efforts, farmers need to listen to what their prospects really want before they start selling.

If you are an expressive farmer, here are some things you can do to easily adjust your personality style:

  • Be careful not to talk too much, and listen more.
  • Adjust your pace to the other person’s.
  • Be less social.
  • Look before you leap; check details.
  • Stay focused.

As I mentioned, these styles aren’t always accurate and are by no means definitive. You’ll probably pull certain qualities from more than one of the categories listed above.

Still, having a picture of your selling style can be valuable in its own right. Understanding the style you found from this quiz might make you hip some unconsidered professional strengths or tendencies that might need some work.

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