Focusing on personality type is an easy way to move from being an average to an excellent coach. Sales teams are made up of individuals from a variety of backgrounds. From fresh out of college to veterans who switched careers, the worldview of team members can differ drastically. With so many different personalities and perspectives comes the challenge of how to most effectively coach each individual.
That’s why focusing on personality type is a game-changer when it comes to coaching.
Companies are continuously investing in understanding the personality type of their employees. In fact, 80% of Fortune 100 organizations use some form of a personality test to develop teamwork within their organization better.
With the increased emphasis on personality types, sales managers, in particular, should take note of the makeup of their team. Incorporating different styles into their coaching approach is an excellent way to develop individual strengths and deliver feedback in an impactful manner.
With the variety of personality tests available there isn’t one definitive guide. In this article, we decided to focus on four personality types a sales manager might encounter on their sales team and the best approach to coaching each one. (If you’re still not sure what sales personality type you or your team members are, now would be a good time to check out our quiz and find out for yourself!)
The Hunter goes by many names, but we’re all familiar with this quintessential sales personality. Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross. Gordon Gekko in Wall Street. It’s the image we conjure when we think of salespeople.
“That watch costs more than your car. I made $970,000 last year. How much’d you make?” – Blake in Glengarry Glen Ross.
The Hunter’s personality is often described as dominating – they like to be in control of the situation and drive the sales process from start to finish. They are aggressive, quick, to the point, and nothing will stop them from achieving their goals and closing a sale. It’s the thrill of the chase that motivates them, and they like to operate at their own pace, style, and rhythm.
Coaching this personality is an adventure that comes with unique challenges. A Hunter values autonomy. Managers who try to make decisions on their behalf will be frustrated. Hunters are usually skilled at their craft; you likely don’t want to get too far into their lane. They shut down when they feel they’re being micromanaged. It’s important to keep that in mind as we look into coaching opportunities.
Hunters are result-oriented and to the point, and so should their coaching. They’re not concerned with how things are done, so much as what the result is. Being direct and factual without wasting time is the best approach to coaching. Key focus areas should be:
- Facts over feelings – Use metrics and data to demonstrate improvement areas.
- Be organized – Have a detailed plan of action with a business approach.
- Provide options – Give the seller a choice of methods for improvement. It’s not telling; it’s exploring a path to a result.
- Turn it into a challenge – For example: Tell a Hunter that Joe was able to get X amount of meetings using a particular sales technique and make their goal higher. Turn it into a competition!
When coaching this personality type, take care not to make it a power struggle. Don’t tell a Hunter what they are doing wrong, but instead guide their improvement while allowing them to maintain their rhythm and autonomy.
This personality type is on a quest for knowledge. They love to use facts, figures, and data to inform their sales process. If you are looking for someone who knows the ins and outs of your solution, this is your person.
In their sales process, they ask a lot of questions. They are methodical and systematic in their approach and want to understand the full picture to help find a solution. Generally, this personality type is polite and reserved, and they focus on precision and perfection. If you are seeking a risk taker, look elsewhere. The Analytic takes the most rational approach to anything they do.
The Analytic might come across as indecisive, but that simply means they don’t have all of the facts in front of them. What they lack in aggression, they make up for in their methodical, calculated approach. Their managers should rely less on emotion and more on figures and data. A word of warning: this personality type is at risk of getting lost in figures and losing focus on the close.
Since the Analytic operates with facts and figures more so than emotion, it’s important to come prepared with solid metrics and data. What pains them the most is being wrong or inaccurate. Expect them to take more time with new information; their care will benefit the team in the long run. Here are a few approaches to coaching this personality type:
- Facts, figures, and metrics – Use data-driven evidence to pinpoint and approach improvement areas.
- Listen in – Join a sales call and provide insights into where they may have focused too much on the figures and less on closing the deal.
- Tip: Live call studio is a great way to provide feedback in real time and help navigate the conversation if they are stuck.
- Compliment their knowledge and precision – The Analytic takes pride in being seen as a knowledgeable resource. Encourage them accordingly!
- Don’t get too personal – Leave emotion at the door and focus on the facts.
With this personality type, it’s important to remain focused on the result – closing the deal. If they get lost in the proverbial weeds, gently redirect their focus and remind them of how important relationships are to a sale. An analytical personality type is a great addition to any sales team. Their knowledge and guidance can serve to answer any tough question that presents itself.
Relationship Builders are your best friends. They’re personable, welcoming, warm, and focused on the relationship. Their objective is to be liked and thought of as a good listener.
During the sales process, they check-in regularly, engage on a personal level, and are always focused on what they can do for their customers. Their devotion to a great customer relationship and buying experience is unparalleled. The Relationship Builder will make every effort to avoid confrontation. Generally, we see this personality type as a great team player who is loyal to the company, their co-workers, and especially the customer. They come across as calm and collected and will welcome you with open arms to their social circle.
At times, the business and personal relationship can become blurred. Their need to be liked can get personal and lead to conflict, so it’s important to focus on keeping the relationship professional. Discounts and price negotiation may be opportunities for extra coaching, as the Relationship Builder wants to be viewed as a friend to their customer. Change and chaos make them uncomfortable and can make them retreat. As a manager, be aware of these situations and provide the Relationship Builder with a little extra support and encouragement.
Relationship building is a key to sales, but it’s important to focus on where to draw the line with this personality type. These are the kids in school who were continually sent to the timeout chair (not that we’d know anything about that…). They’re a lot of fun, but they need to be reminded to focus on their own work. If a seller spends too much time making small talk, they can unnecessarily prolong the sale.
Coaches should mirror their personality type and remain calm, relaxed, and agreeable. Use the word “we” to make the conversation feel inclusive. Coaching opportunities for this personality include:
- Live call coaching – Drop in on calls to gain insight into where the rep might be spending too much time on personal discussions. Then, you can help the rep understand an appropriate balance of small talk and selling.
- Analyze call length – Take a metric-driven approach by reviewing call length to ensure the rep spends the optimal amount of time with prospects. Too much time on calls can result in lost opportunities.
- Ask for feedback – Using “we” in the conversation is one way to do this, but go beyond that to learning how they best receive feedback. What can “we” do better? Make coaching a team effort with this personality type.
- Focus on the close – The Relationship Builder may be reluctant to push their customer to close for fear of damaging the relationship. Spend time role-playing with them, so they’re more comfortable asking for the sale.
A people-person is an excellent asset to any sales team. They are warm, welcoming, and agreeable and help to nurture long-term relationships with their clients. Keep the focus on strengths and where to develop them.
After all, they probably have a great personality, and personality has a significant impact on success.
As the ultimate group advocate, the Herder finds strength as a leader. They may not be the manager, but they can appear as one amongst their peers. They are supportive, collaborative, and value team over self.
Throughout the sales process, they are focused on the performance of their team in addition to their work. They view themselves as the glue that holds everyone together, and the success of their peers is just as important as their own. This personality is inclusive. They would rather share the spotlight with their team that hog the glory. If a teammate or customer needs assistance, the Herder is right there.
Because they tend to see themselves as a leader, they can encroach on the actual manager’s role. It’s not intentional, but it can cause frustration and confusion. They tend to lose focus on their metrics in favor of supporting the team. In their own sales process, they may shy away from being direct with customers to avoid rocking the boat.
Maintain an understanding of boundaries and responsibilities between a manager and a Herder, but remain friendly. This personality can help leadership gain buy-in from their peers and should be viewed as a valuable member of the team. Effective coaching methods for developing a Herder include:
- Career Guidance – If their strength is being a leader, create a path for getting there. Align their personal development with career objectives.
- Provide leadership opportunities – A good leader allows others to shine. Setting a Herder up for mentorship opportunities boosts confidence and plays off strengths.
- Peer to Peer training – If it’s group strength they yearn for, then help bring them together with peers for training opportunities.
A peer leader within your own sales team is a great resource to have. Utilize their strengths and put them on a career path for future leadership opportunities. A Herder will appreciate the career direction and focus their own results on achieving the long-term goal.
There are numerous ways to categorize personality types within a sales organization. The important takeaway is that coaching activities should take personality into account. Recognizing the diverse personalities on your team is an excellent opportunity to focus on strengths while working towards improving weaknesses productively. It will only help coaches to be more effective!
Effective sales coaching is an ongoing and evolving process. For more on how to best leverage technology to scale coaching, check out our eBook dedicated to the topic.