Successful Sales Personalities

Over the years I have managed various sales forces. Some have been employees while other have been independent reps. The challenge has always been motivating the sales team to stay on task and produce the best results. Now I believe it is nearly impossible to motivate the sales team, it is either in them or it isn’t. However, it is possible to build the right sales team.

Harvard Business Review has published a series of articles on the the successful sales personalities and how they correlate to the complexity of the sale. The eye opener for me was that the “Relationship” personality was the lowest performing personality in a complex sale.

I have been in the Systems Integration business since 1987 for commercial and residential electronics sales. These are complex systems with multiple phases of installation and intertwined with construction activity. The Sales person has to navigate a pretty complex situation. They all say they are successful because of their relationships. The HBR study disagrees.


The study identified five personality types:

  • The Hard Worker (21% of the sample)
    Always willing to go the extra mile, doesn’t give up easily, self motivated, and interested in feedback and development.
  • The Challenger (27% of the sample)
    Always has a different view of the world, understands the customer’s business, loves to debate, and pushes the customers.
  • The Relationship Builder (21% of sample)
    Builds strong advocates in customer organizations, generous in giving time to others, and gets along with everyone.
  • The Lone Wolf (18% of the sample)
    Follows their own instincts, self assured, and difficult to control.
  • The Problem Solver (14% of sample)
    Reliably responds to internal and external stake holders, ensures that all problems are solved, and is detail oriented.

 The Challenger Wins

When it comes to high performers, the Challenger is far ahead of the other personalities. It is almost shocking how low the Relationship Builder scored as a high performer. However, as a core performer delivering regular results, they do quite well.

Complex Sales

It becomes even more interesting when you look at how successful the Challenger is when highly complex sales are the important.

The entire article can be read on HBR’s Blog. ┬áConsider taking the Challenger Test and learning how to build a challenger based sales organization.

My organization can help you with focusing your sales team and developing metrics/dashboards that will streamline your sales efforts. Contact me for a conference call.

Posted in Economic Trends, Electronics, Residential Construction.