Tag Archives: commercial leadership

Best Personality Type for Sales

Hire an ‘Ambivert’ or Learn to Become One

Are you in sales?  Yes, you are. Think about it, your title may not say so, but essentially you make a living selling. You may label it To sell is humaninfluencing, persuasion, cajoling, convincing, trading or exchanging—but if you use the general definition of selling: “to hand over something in exchange for money or to persuade someone of the merits of” then hopefully you’ll agree with Dan Pink, author of To Sell is Human (Riverhead Books, 2013) that we’re all in sales.

A seller’s market

In general, sales people have had a traditionally negative stereotype. The typical car salesman comes top of mind. People have associated sales roles with adjectives like pushy, sleazy, and manipulative—you get the point.

Historically, sales people could afford to take on an aggressive stance because it was a seller’s market, where the salesperson had exclusive information. In this context, the customer needed to interact with this gatekeeper. In this traditional model, extroverts— outgoing, gregarious and talkative—were hired and promoted in the sales ranks.

A buyer’s market

Pink details in his book how the sales playing field has been changed and the customer now has the advantage. Much of development has come with the advances of technology, access to information, increased global competition and consumerism.  Today, if a customer knows what they want, they can access most, if not all of the information without involving a sales person.

As the selling dynamics have shifted from seller to buyer, Pink identifies 3 key qualities a sales person must posses in the today’s environment:

1.  Attunement: fully understanding your target’s perspective as the prelude to help them

2.  Buoyancy—resilience through multiple cycles of rejections

3.  Clarity—expertise to make sense of complex situations and providing insights for problem finding

These qualities are not found in the traditionally extroverted salesperson.

The Rise of the Ambivert

A study conducted by Adam Grant, professor at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Management developed and deployed a personality scale from 1-7.  The scores from 1-2 were considered introverts and scores from  6-7 were considered extroverts. In the middle, scores from 3 to 5 were considered ambiverts—a person whose personality has a balance of extrovert and introvert features.

Additionally, the study mapped personality scores to sales productivity. Quantitatively, introverts produced $120/hour, extroverts $125/hour and ambiverts $155/hour.  Surprisingly, the ambivert group that scored the highest productivity of $208/hour scored a 4 in the personality scale, right in the middle of the ambivert range.

Unlike the extremes in the scales, ambiverts know when to talk and when to listen;  when to support and when to push. They are able to manage more selling situations, customers from broader spectrums of personality and leverage both skill sets of the personality spectrum for the benefit of the sale. In short, Pink and the research conclude that ambiverts are the best personality type to sell in today’s environment.


The book and the accompanying study demystify the stereotype that extroverts make the best sales people. To find out where you fall on the scale, take the brief indicator at http://www.danpink.com/assessment/. The good news is that we can all work on balancing our skills and becoming better ambiverts. If you’re looking for a pragmatic how-to book to balance your personality skills, I would recommend this book, it’s a how-to manual packed with exercises in every chapter.

Published in PM360


Marketing Book Review: Conversations That Win the Complex Sale


How can you achieve the highest return per dollar spent of your marketing budget? “Great messaging through your sales force,” said Tim Riesterer, co-author of Conversations That Win the Complex Sale, in a workshop he recently conducted for my marketing team. This makes particular sense in a complex sale, where your highest operating costs are in your sales force…and your primary competitor is the status quo. Riesterer and his co-author Erik Peterson provide us an interesting messaging model. Before you decide to invest in the latest marketing tool, think about how you can leverage messaging across your marketing tactics and to help you achieve a high return on investment.

This is an exciting time to be a marketer! In the 20 years I’ve worked in B2B commercial sales & marketing , we’ve never had more tools at our disposal to arm our channels and get our message to our target audience. We continuously innovate vehicles that help us deliver creative, multi-media and relevant messages. Unfortunately, tools is can be easily imitated. If you have enough budget, you can copy the tactics your competitors are using: marketers cannot differentiate on tools alone.

For all the tools we have at our disposal, specifically the complex sale, messaging is the critical component that sets us apart from our competition and makes our solution relevant to our target audience. Messaging is the thread that ties all tools together, delivers a consistent…well, message…and makes the most of our spend. It maximizes our efficiency to clearly communicate our value proposition, educate on our benefits and ultimately to persuade our buyers.

Point-of-View Pitch

Conversations That Win the Complex Sale lays out a messaging framework that’s easy to understand and can be translated through different marketing tools. Here are the components:

1.  Grabber. Generate a reputable third-party point of view that is relevant to your client’s core business objective.

2.  Pain. Shock the clients by showing them an unknown or underappreciated issue currently eating away at their their organization and threatening their core business objectives.

3.  Impact. Create urgency by appropriately quantifying the personal, business, and financial impacts of ignoring the problem,; follow up by showing the beneficial effects of acting soon.

4.  Contrast. Differentiate your unique strengths, and show how they address the threats the customer is facing; be clear about how your proposed solution differs the present situation…without offending clients who may have skin in the current game.

5.  Proof. Demonstrate how you have helped similar clients by implementing the solution you’re proposing, and show your approach’s positive impact on the client’s objective.


From a marketing management perspective, the Point-of-View Pitch should flow from the overall positioning strategy. This model can help marketers create compelling messages for their sales forces, particularly in the prospecting phase. I particularly like the authors’ challenge to the status quo. But one strong caution: The model is only as good as the information you input, so the stronger the supporting data, the greater your opportunity for success.

Good marketing!

This book review was published in PM360.  

Marketing Book Review: Winning the Zero Moment of Truth

Do you remember the buying process you undertook the last time you made a large purchase? If you’re like most customers, your decision was made long before you hit the purchase button or walked into the retail space. Winning the Zero Moment of Truth, by Google’s Jim Lecinski, provides research and insights into this relatively new phenomenon.

Marketing history

Along with the 4Ps of marketing, business schools have taught the value of influencing decisions at the moment of purchase. Companies have invested billions in strategies designed to influence the customer at the moment they are staring at the options for buying a product within a category. That moment has traditionally been defined as the First Moment of Truth (FMOT).

In the history of marketing, sellers have focused a lot of attention on FMOT. Pricing strategies, packaging, shelf-positioning, product variety/mix, couponing, and many other tactics have been deployed to win the customer at that critical juncture. And while FMOT is still important, purchase behavior has shifted, providing marketers additional challenges to convert prospects into customers.

Zero Moment of Truth—ZMOT

The buying decision journey has changed. What was once a message is now a conversation. And for the first time in history, word of mouth is a digitally archived medium, available to everyone, all the time.

Between the awareness and purchase phase, people search on-line, read product reviews, use social media to ask opinions, and seek multiple pricing options. Americans now spend as much time online as they do watching TV.

This April, Google conducted a study of 5,003 customers across 12 categories of products and services. The goal was to show where influence takes place as shoppers move from undecided to decided. Here are a few highlights from that study:

·         Average shoppers used 10.4 sources of information, up from 5.3 in the previous year

·         84 percent  of shoppers report that ZMOT tactics shaped their purchase decisions

·         70 percent  of Americans look at product reviews before making a purchase

·         54 percent  comparison-shopped for products online

Given the audience for this publication, you’re probably thinking that this applies to DTC, but does not apply to a healthcare B2B scenario. Wrong: conversations about your product are already going on. Try this:  Google your product name and add “review” to the search query. Your ZMOT is happening on the first 3 pages of your search. Now type your product category and add “best” to your search query. How do you stack up?

Implications for Marketers

The good news is that you can immediately adapt ZMOT marketing strategies and incorporate them into your marketing plan.

7-steps to creating a ZMOT strategy:

1.       Put someone in charge—if no one is in charge, it won’t get done.

2.       Find your ZMOT—understand how people search for your product.

3.       Answer questions people are asking—use Insights for Search or Google Trends for discernment.

4.       Optimize for ZMOT—adjust your content for paid, owned, earned and shared media.

5.       Be fast—speed beats perfection.

6.       Don’t forget video—YouTube is the second-most-used search box in the world.

7.       Jump in—as you probably saw from your search, you’re already in ZMOT.

This complimentary e-book (http://www.zeromomentoftruth.com/) provides an excellent overview of an evolution in marketing. I believe this applies to any product or service. It even applies to companies and people.

Good marketing!

Interested in this topic?  Check out this video:

This book review was published in the November issue of PM360.