Can Anyone Be Successful In Sales?


I was meeting with a sales person the other day who considered themselves to be shynot quick-witted on their feet, and they were concerned they could never be a successful B2B sales person. 

I’m a firm believer that, when referring to business to business (B2B) sales, the answer is YES.  Anyone can be successful in sales.

Is there a type of salesperson you like to work with? ​

For instance, if have somebody call you up on the phone, or you’re forced to work with a salesperson, would you like them to be a certain way? 

  • Do you like them to be a hard closer? 
  • Do you like them to just be, just to be, all about them? 
  • Do you want them to be that stereotypical salesperson?
 Is that what you’re looking for? Because, I’m not. Those types of people turn me off. And I’ve been doing sales for over 18 years. I imagine you probably don’t want to work with their either.

How would you describe the personality of the type of salesperson you most get along with?

Personality Types In Sales


So, when you think about the stereotypical salesperson, do you think that that’s the person that is the most successful in sales, the one that we have in our mind? 

Well, there’s a book that I read years back, that I recommend you read. It’s not a sales book.  It’s a psychology book, and it’s called, “Personality Plus”, and it’s by Florence Littauer.

It’s an older psychology book about personality types.  The author talks about how everyone falls under one of these four personality types.  You could have a primary one and then you can have a secondary one. 

The four personality types are:

  • Choleric
  • Sanguine
  • Melancholy
  • Phlegmatic
 The choleric is the person that’s really all about results. They’re all about the bottom line. Think about them as the dictator, we need to do to make it happen person, what do we need to do to get to the next step. 

Can you think about any of those people in your life? A lot of time you see people that run organizations as people that are cholerics. 

The second one is the sanguine. Sanguine’s are all about status, fun, they wanna be liked. They’re that type of person that is always out there in the front saying, “Let’s go! “We can do this! “Let’s have a blast!” They often don’t consider the consequences. 

So, they’re really all about status, making sure people like them, fun, they wanna be on everyone’s good side, they want everyone to think that they’re the most popular person, type of individual. 

The third one is melancholy. Melancholy’s are all about the details, analytics, reading the fine print, and following the directions. Many of them are engineer mindsets, IT people, computer programmers and prefer to minimize their communication with people, because they might be overthinking their conversations. 

The fourth one is the phlegmatic. The phlegmatic is all about harmony. They want everyone to be feeling good and happy, and they’re very in tune with emotion.

They can tell if there’s one person in the room that’s just not doing well, and they’ll go up to that person, and they’ll ask, “How are you doing?” And, “How can I help make your day better?” They’re that type of individual. 

Now there are opposites!

For instance, the choleric’s lack harmony. They lack making sure that they’re not making people feel uncomfortable. So, their opposite is the phlegmatic. The phlegmatic’s typically don’t like the cholerics, and the cholerics tend to be afraid of the phlegmatics, because those are the people that they offend the most. 

Then the sanguines and the melancholies are opposites because the sanguines are all about, “Let’s go, let’s have a blast,” and the melancholies are there saying, “I can’t stand these people because they don’t think before they do something.”  

Then the sanguines don’t like the melancholies because they’re thinking, “Why can’t you just go do something? Quit looking at the details. It’s gonna be fine. Let’s go.” 

What about needing the personality to be “driven” in sales to be successful?  The driven personality is the choleric, right?

I would make the argument that each of these personality types is driven in their own way. 

  • The choleric is driven for results 
  • The sanguine is driven to help bring the most out of life. 
  • The melancholy is driven to be right
  • The phlegmatic is driven to get to know you, listen, and help.  

What would you want in a salesperson?​


I took the liberty to brainstom this part.  Here are things that I would want in a salesperson. What did I miss?

  • I would say that you probably want someone that listens to your concerns. 
  • People that care. That care about you, and they’re not just in it for themselves. 
  • They want someone that’s got attention to detail, so that you’re putting together contracts, and looking at your business, they’re looking at it really detailed, so they make sure you’re making a good recommendation. 
  • They want people that are, that make you feel special, that you’re meaning, that you matter. 
  • We want salespeople that help us solve problems. Problems that we may be aware of, or maybe we don’t know yet. 
  • We want salespeople that are knowledgeable, and can help us with a good solution because they know how it can potentially help us. 
  • We want salespeople that can encourage us to make change when we know it’s the right thing to do, but we haven’t made that jump yet.

If we cross-checked these off of the four personality types above we would find that these qualities are found in all four of the personality types.

There’s not just one that wins. 

What personality are you meeting with?​


When you’re out there meeting people, let’s say as a salesperson now, and you’re one of these personality types, you also have to keep in mind that the person that you’re meeting with has their own personality type.

You can’t assume they will be a particular one.  You must learn to read their personality, and adapt to it. 

The best way to do this is to first understand what personality type you are.  Once you clearly can identify which one, you can start to work on your weaknesses and build onto your strengths.  The better you get here, the easier you’ll be able to spot the personality of your customer and then know how to best work with them.

Summary of Can Anyone Be Successful In Sales

Anyone can be successful in sales. You must, however, learn to identify who you’re going to meet with. There’s tricks, and techniques you can find that will help you quickly identify so you can adjust.  

In the end, there’s not one personality type that you can be to be successful in sales, you must learn to be all of them.  You need to be adaptable.

Learn more tips on how to be successful reading your clients personality styles inside of our Modern Sales Academy.

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