What Kind of Sales People Do You Have Working for You?

Like the optimistic goal of finding the perfect husband or wife, the hunt for the perfect sales person goes unfulfilled.

For as long as sales people have roamed the earth there have been “winners” and “losers.” For just as long, sales managers have been searching for the elusive “perfect sales person.”

Sales managers perspectives must change. Instead of looking for the perfect person, they must learn to identify and hire sales candidates that have the basic skills and talents to become successful, and then apply superior sales management practices to compensate for the shortcomings new hires have. The ability to recognize, communicate, coach and motivate each of the four types of sales personalities will ultimately determine a manager’s success.

Let’s take a look at the four types of Account Executives and how to manage each:


These types are resilient when it comes to rejection. They have a sense of urgency and close hard and fast. They push for the sale, collect the check and move on to the next kill. They’re competitive, positive, high energy, dynamic, fast passed, results oriented and they have very high egos.

They are not good relationship builders or team players and they are demanding.

They have a psychological need to convince others to their way of thinking and their greatest strength in selling is closing new business. They can be your biggest advocate or your worst nightmare.

Management Key: Have them stay out of the office and work on their own where they won’t have to interact and upset the rest of the staff.


Farmers have a retail sales mentality and would rather respond to customer requests than initiate contact. When they do respond it is in a low key-key friendly manner. They do not really consider themselves to be sales people. They take rejection very personally and spend a lot of their time trying to work through their feelings of rejection. Farmers will not cold call because they cannot psychologically tolerate rejection. They view cross selling or up selling as imposing on the customer. Their belief is that if someone wants to buy something they will initiate the contact. They value their customers and take wonderful care of existing clients. They are reliable order takers and make great customer service representatives.

Management Key: Give them accounts that require a lot of customer service and relationship building.

Account Penetrators

These sales people are superb long term relationship builders because they possess great patience. They are able to balance the sense of urgency to get new business with the patience to develop new relationships. Their emphasis is on creative problem solving and they excel in consultative selling environments.

They create customer loyalty because of their relationship skills. They are wonderful cross sellers and up sellers and will pursue those opportunities once they have penetrated an account.

Penetrators are political animals who can read who the players are and successfully navigate the political bureaucracy within organizations. They have boundless energy for socializing and networking and see themselves as consultants not sales people.

Their shortcomings are that they are not prospectors and will resist cold calling unless made to do so.

Management Key: Give them prospects and accounts that typically have long sales cycles and multiple layers of decision making.


These folks seem to be living on the edge and almost out of control. They have limitless energy and are in a constant state of movement. They are great initiators of contact or action. They are excessive in every thing they do. They start lots of things but never seem to finish any of them. They are well liked, friendly, social, and outgoing. These folks are master prospectors and will burn up the phone lines and fill up the pipeline. They appear a lot like a Hunter except they are lacking in the ability to close.

They lack focus, are impulsive and overextend themselves to the point of exhaustion. They have a tendency to over promise what you can deliver because they think any thing is possible. They continually shoot themselves in the foot by being totally disorganized and are terrible time managers.

Their sales forecasts are often not worth the paper they are written on. They are the company leaders in pending files and deadwood and they are the mortal enemy of the accounting and traffic departments.

Management Key: Provide strict accountability for their activity and provide plenty of structure and processes for them.

Each of these types of sales people need to be managed differently. A sales manager must not only be able to recognize who she has working for her but she must know how to manage each style and temperament for maximum performance. The management style that works well for one of these types will not work for the others. In order to become more effective, sales managers need to spend time upgrading their knowledge and skills of psychological typing, human relations, coaching and communication. Sadly, most of them are unwilling to do so.

Craig Breitsprecher

As will most other personality portrait methods, I have seen people here with a combination of traits but you are right, there always seems to be one over-riding style. Good stuff.


Carla Schlosser

Great article. I love the newsletter articles and read most of them. My sales people do not ‘fit’ into one of these 4 category types from an obvious veiwpoint. I wonder if there should be a 5th category in which you throw all the ‘others’ in?! Why is sales so frustrating? What am I doing wrong?

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