Do you have a Sales Personality?

Contributed to by Kim Evans

Enthusiastic salesman gestures to cameraThere are times when a job we've never held before suddenly looks and sounds intriguing, for no known reason. It's as if the occupation was just invented or had been kept a secret up to this point, and we think, "Why haven't I ever pursued this job?"

The truth is we experience so many different random events throughout our lives that impact the way we view the world, and we don't always realize just how we've been influenced by those events. As soon as we boost our self-awareness, we realize the world's treasures have been right under our nose all along.

Job seekers tend to experience this fresh-perspective phenomenon particularly with sales professions, which have long been considered treasures in their own right perhaps because sales jobs have historically been abundant. The spectrum of sales-related occupations is vast, as is the number of industries that employ sales professionals. It stands to reason that, at some point, a niche in the sales field, from entry level sales to sales management, will resonate with an individual looking at job opportunities through a new lens.

So, when your attention is suddenly captured for the first time by a sales job, how do you go about determining if you're cut out for sales work? As a start, take a personality test such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). While this test can't accurately predict whether or not you'd do well in the sales profession, it can indicate if your newfound intrigue in a sales job is legit or just a passing phase.

Of the 16 possible personality types churned out by the MBTI survey, below is one type that is arguably ideal for a career in sales: ESFP. You don't need to possess this MBTI type exactly to enter the sales force, but see if you can identify why the following traits could work to your advantage if they belonged to you.

  • Extraverted: This person gains energy by being around other people and thus prefers social interaction to alone time (the opposite Introvert gains energy when alone). This person tends to be outgoing and skilled at talking with other people.
  • Sensing: This person processes information through what is occurring in the here and now, and rarely overlooks the details. This person appreciates the practicality of things or ideas (the opposite iNtuitive appreciates the possibility of things or ideas).
  • Feeling: This person makes decisions based on emotional needs and a clearly established value system (the opposite Thinker makes decisions based on hard logic). This person maintains harmony by considering the feelings of others.
  • Perceiving: This person displays a flexible, go-with-the-flow lifestyle and adapts well to change. This person practices patience and values the journey more than the destination (the opposite Judger values destination more than the journey).

Are you able to draw connections between this personality type and a sales relationship? It could be said that an ESFP would be very comfortable interacting with and understanding the needs of prospective clients, and could likely provide in any given moment just the right detailed response. That's not to say another type, like the INTJ, wouldn't possess handy sales attributes; that person might be a great listener, story teller, motivator and closer.

Ultimately, you can truly excel at any career you choose regardless of your personality type, but keep in mind that some people require more time and effort than others to reach sales superstar status, and one's personality can certainly be a differentiating factor. Likewise, you may have natural sales abilities but your personality might not mesh well with certain companies or industries. But there's no need to fret about job compatibility if you take time to build self-awareness–the job options best for you are right under your nose.

There are 15 other MBTI types–in fact, it's estimated that the ESFP type comprises only 8.7 percent of the population–so there are certainly plenty of other personalities represented in the sales workforce. Regardless of whether or not you know your MBTI type, which parts of your personality do you think would draw you to a sales job? Which parts would clash with sales work? We want to know!

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