QUESTION: A recent column in the business section suggested that anyone can become a good sales person if they study and try to emulate the traits of proven sales professionals. What’s SCORE’s take on this?

ANSWER:  While I cannot comment on the opinions of other SCORE counselors, I will share my personal opinion. Almost anyone can become better at what they do if they make a concerted effort to do so. The old saying “Good sales people are born, not made,” ain’t necessarily so.

Many years ago, I and my employees took the Myers-Briggs personality tests. The purpose was to identify individual strengths and weaknesses and enable the employer to assign responsibility to those best suited for certain tasks.

In 1931, renowned Swiss psychologist Carl Jung published the book “Psychological Types.” Specifically, Jung said that “people tend to exhibit a preference for one of two personality attitudes, extroversion and introversion.”

He described extroverts as characterized by their interest in the external, social world.  Introverts are characterized by their interest in their own internal world of thoughts and feelings. In general, the extrovert is a social animal, quite vocal, confident, a big-picture thinker. Whereas, the introvert is quiet, reserved, detail oriented, a deep thinker.

Myers-Briggs testing, however, indicates that individuals may possess personality traits that are a composite of more than just one factor. Therefore, while it would appear that the extrovert is better suited for a sales position, it is entirely possible their counterpart could possess some of the same qualities that make for success in the sales field.

I am sure you have been turned off by the high-pressure sales pitch from someone who tells you to buy it now because the deal will be gone tomorrow. Contrast this approach with the sales person who asks what you want, consider to be important, explains, and then helps you purchase the item or service.

The bottom line is that people are complex beings. While personality tests are helpful in determining your interests, how you perceive the world and people around you, do not allow them paint you into a box.

If you believe you have an aptitude for sales, go for it. There are many books and seminars that offer insights into what makes for a great sales person. Sales is like any other profession, the more you do it the better you will get at it.


Gray Poehler is a volunteer with SCORE Naples. Business counseling on this and other business matters is available, without charge, from the Naples Chapter of SCORE. Call (239) 430-0081 or visit .The SCORE business office is located at 900 Goodlette Road North, in the Fifth Third branch bank building.