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The Secret to Managing Salespeople? Start with Their Myers-Briggs Personalities

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If you’re looking for another article about why your sales team should only hire ESFJs, you’ve come to the wrong place.

While it’s true that not everyone is a perfect fit for the sales profession, most people just need the right motivation and management to thrive.Identifying salespeople’s Myers-Briggs personality types is a great place to start when attempting to understand motivational factors. But what’s next?

I’ve created a quick cheat sheet that can help you manage any of the 16 Myers-Briggs personalities like a pro. I’ve also grouped each type into the following four commonly used buckets: Analysts, Diplomats, Sentinels, and Explorers.

As a reminder, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® identifies 16 personality types that emerge from your preferences. Those preferences are:

  • Introversion vs. Extroversion (I or E)
  • Sensing vs. Intuition (S or N)
  • Thinking vs. Feeling (T or F)
  • Judging vs. Perceiving (J or P)

Administering the Myers-Briggs test allows you to discover your employee’s preferences, and it assigns each of them a four-letter “type” that encompasses their personality. So, how do you motivate these personalities on your sales team? I thought you’d never ask.

Explorers

Charming, smart, enthusiastic, and energetic -- explorers make some of the best salespeople around. They’re social, enjoy being held to challenging metrics, and are always finding new ways to solve old problems.

To motivate this group, you’ll need a variety of strategies. ESTPs require a fun but firm manager. They live on the edge, so enlisting them to participate in high-risk, high-reward sales contests might yield impressive results. ISTPs like to keep things practical. Give them the task of searching for technology that will increase team efficiency and you’ll see them rise to the occasion.

A firm schedule is in order for your ESFPs. Their spontaneous nature is best harnessed with a little 9-to-5 rigidity. And for ISFPs, it’s good to be in the details. They’re artistic and charming, but might require a goal-oriented strategy to channel that creative energy into sales stats you can both be proud of. For instance, try holding them to activity metrics, like sending a certain number of emails every day, or breaking their monthly or quarterly quota into weekly numbers.

Diplomats

“Diplomatic” might not be a word commonly associated with salespeople, but it’s crucial to have a few of these personality types on your team. They may seem quiet or overly eager to please (which is not always a good thing in sales), but they’re also charismatic and hard-working until the end. In other words, diplomats are the salespeople you want by your side when you’re three hours and $10,000 shy of your quarterly sales deadline.

So how do you motivate them? INFJs really appreciate quality time. Make sure not to miss their weekly check-ins and always ask how they’re doing. For INFPs, acknowledgement is key. Did they break a personal record last quarter? Give them kudos at your next all-staff meeting.

Teamwork is an effective way to motivate ENFJs. Enlist them to mentor junior team members so they can teach others their tried-and-true selling tricks. Your ENFPs need a creative outlet every once in a while. Those may be few and far between in the world of sales, but you might consider allowing them to create a piece of sales enablement content for other reps instead of handing that task off to Marketing.

Analysts

The analyst group is comprised of your most curious, bold, innovative, and strategic salespeople. They’re not satisfied with the processes or explanations your company has relied upon for years, and they love a good challenge.

INTJs do their best work when you, as their manager, outline a path to success. Have lofty goals for revamping your tired CRM workflow this quarter? Assign the task to your INTJ and put together a strategic plan for how they will succeed.

ENTJs are born leaders, so dangling a team mentor or sales management position in front of them is a great way to keep them focused and fulfilled. Oh, and ENTPs would prefer if you didn’t beat around the bush. Be open and honest about their performance this quarter, and you’ll receive respect and loyalty in return.

Sentinels

This unique group of personalities is here to keep your team grounded. Practical and detail-oriented, sentinels make great managers and caring teammates. To keep them motivated, consider a few of the suggestions below.

Make sure you keep challenging ISTJs. They love solving problems, so let them solve the most pressing ones facing your team or company -- for instance, analyzing a decrease in ASP or crafting new positioning against an up-and-coming competitor. ISFJs rely heavily on specificity from their managers. Make sure their quarterly goals are thoroughly outlined and include an actionable path to success.

Speak logically with your ESTJs and you’ll be speaking their language. Reorganizing your sales regions? Explain the reasoning to your ESTJ to get them on board first. And be an involved manager with your ESFJs. They’re eager to help and will do their best work when you carefully outline their goals and check in regularly to make sure they’re aware of and meeting your expectations.

Bring the best out in your team.

You probably didn’t hire a team comprised entirely of alpha salespeople. And, let’s be honest, that’s probably a good thing. What you really need is the skillset to manage each of your salespeople in a way that will bring out the best in each of them and contribute to your company’s bottom line.

And once you’ve nailed down your Myers-Briggs, try this “What Type of Salesperson Are You?” quiz to further hone in on your or your teammates’ aptitude.

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