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Leveraging Personality Traits to Achieve Sales Goals

Training modules that emphasize the “four sales styles” can be helpful in identifying specific personality traits that are present in your sales style. That’s about it. It can give you an idea of who you are, but presents no solutions to how to get better at selling. After taking this test for myself, I found out that my personality was the opposite of what a salesperson is supposed to be, and was given no way out.

Absolutely useless. The values I have grown with, molding me into the person I am today, don’t match the “hunter profile”. I’m not about getting a personality overhaul either. Somehow I need to get from point A to point B without altering myself.

I’m not a believer in fixed labels. I don’t think that a personality quiz can define me. I know that there are benefits to my type of personality in sales. So instead of listening to the results here, I’m choosing my own path:


People have been attempting to categorize aspects of personality since the dawn of civilization. Astrology, for instance, is prevalent in many cultures globally. Hippocrates took a stab at the problem himself with the concept of the “Four Humors” – that one’s personality is dependent on the balance of fluids within ones body, and one who has an excess of these is considered sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, or melancholic. More recently, the Meyers-Briggs test emerged out of World War II when people were attempting to design work forces for women in factories to support the war. Some people swear by these methods. None of these are based on empirical evidence.

Without any data to back up these figures, how much can I trust this sales test? There are methods that are more sound, such as the MMPI or Wonderlic tests, but these are more specific towards finding underlying mental health disorders or job compatibility. Personality psychologists have adopted a model called the Big Five Personality Traits. This is the standard model for measuring personality. It is also the type of behavioral data that is gathered by Big Data firms such as Cambridge Analytica. You may remember then from the headlines after the 2016 election.

You can take the test here.

What Are The Big Five Personality Traits?

The five traits that can be measured are openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Psychologists generally believe that half of our traits are inherited, while the rest are environmental. These traits are not fixed, so you can develop them over time. You measure these on a score from 1 to 5.

  • Openness has to do with one’s response to new experience. Scoring a 1 would make you cautious and consistent, while a 5 suggests inventiveness and curiosity.
  • Conscientiousness measures how orderly a person is. A person who scores low is carefree, while a high scorer is industrious and competent.
  • Extroversion measures how social a person is. It also measures assertiveness and enthusiasm.
  • Agreeableness is very tied to emotional intelligence, measuring an individual’s compassion and politeness.
  • Finally, neuroticism measures the mental stability of an individual. A neurotic person can be prone to either volatility or withdrawal.

So what do these traits mean? Broadly, they measure the ways in which you act and react to situations. Scoring high in each of the categories is not necessarily a good thing. For instance, a person who is both agreeable and extroverted might try to be everyone’s friend and will not manage conflict well. These traits are also malleable – if you want to become a more conscientious person, you can develop that skill.

How Can Personality Traits Be Used With Sales?

Once you have measured your traits, you can apply them to sales skills you want to develop. For instance, consider emotional intelligence. Adam Goodman suggests that EQ boils down to five traits: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill. You can actually trace each of these aspects of EQ to specific Big Five traits. For instance, self-awareness is a facet of agreeableness. Conscientiousness is linked to motivation and self-regulation. Developing both of these traits will allow you to be a more emotionally intelligent individual.

Concluding Thoughts

The “value” of a quiz like this is not to determine who you are, but what skills you need to develop to better yourself as a salesperson. Find the information that works for you. If a test isn’t giving you the tools that you need to succeed, find a different test. Personality information is only helpful when it allows you to grow and thrive. So often these tests attempt to box you in rather than let you grow.