How to Navigate Personalities on a Sales Team

By Butch Bellah

Most successful sales businesses and organizations are made up of many different personality types. In fact, that’s what makes them successful — if everyone thought the same, responded the same, and performed the same, any business would fail pretty quickly. It would be a pretty peaceful place to work, though . . . while the business lasted.

The strengths and weaknesses of each member of the team are needed in order to provide a balance allowing the company or organization to progress, innovate, and succeed. But, along with that comes the inevitable minefield of different personalities.

If you’re new to management, understand that not everyone was promoted to his position because he has the same skill set you possess. The truth is that other managers probably have skills you don’t have or are strong where you’re weak — that’s what makes the entire management team strong and diverse.

Although it’s important to have a varied set of personalities running an organization, remember that the rest of the team processes information or makes decisions based on a totally different set of criteria than you do. What’s important to you isn’t necessarily important to them and vice versa.

Remember you aren’t in accounting

The skills that make a great salesperson probably make a horrible accountant. And what makes a great accountant more than likely makes a poor salesperson. Each department within the company is made up of different personalities, but perhaps the two most diametrically opposite are accounting and sales.

The more you can understand and accept how the people in other departments operate and what makes them good at what they do, the better manager you’ll be, and the easier it will be to pass that information down to your sales team.

Just as with learning to communicate with other departments, discovering how those departments operate, what’s important to them, and how they’re graded gives you a much greater understanding of the big picture of how your company operates on a day-to-day basis.

For example, assume you have a customer who has a last-minute request you have to fulfill. Your thoughts are on satisfying that customer, but you need to be aware of the fact that the production and transportation departments are also dealing with overtime, production numbers, and efficiency criteria. Your little favor on a Friday afternoon could affect their entire month.

Again, that’s not to say everyone in the company doesn’t want to satisfy the customer, but when you see the challenge through others’ eyes, you’re much more sensitive to what they deal with.

There’s a big difference between calling the transportation manager and telling him you need a special delivery for a customer and calling and saying, “I know you’re always working to make our deliveries more efficient and to save time, fuel, and other resources, but I need to help a customer, and it’s probably going to hurt your numbers for the week. How can we make this work?”

Has the problem changed? Has what the transportation department got to do changed? No. But, your attitude

How to pick your battles

You’re well versed in communicating with other departments and have a good handle of how they work, process information, make decisions, and judge their work. Yet, you still have a disagreement. Oops!

A manager who can disagree without being disagreeable is more respected than one who throws a fit every time something doesn’t go right. Also, it’s a sign of strength, not weakness, when you hear everyone out and decide to do it how the other person wants it done instead of how you think it should be done.

Every time you have an issue with another manager or another department, you represent your entire sales team whether you realize it or not. Keep your disagreements professional and never let them get personal.

Trust your instincts. You’ll know when the times comes for you to really put up a fight. But even when you do keep it professional and focus on the solution, not the problem.

If you’re solving a problem created by a mistake in another department, there is no value in pointing out who made the mistake. Solve the problem, take care of your customer or whoever was inconvenienced first, then work with the manager of that department to prevent future problems. It doesn’t matter how it happened, what matters is how you solve it.

The more you approach problems, disagreements and disputes in this manner, the more wins you’ll have in your bank because other managers will respect your management style.

Just as you do with customers, when dealing with other departments understand that just because there is a winner doesn’t mean there has to be a loser. The more you can find, create, and produce win-win situations, the more success you’ll have at dealing with other departments and other managers.

How to get along with everybody

Getting along with everyone sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Oh, that only happens in the movies!

You can get along with everyone if you simply become a person everyone wants to get along with. Use these tips:

  • Be a problem solver, not a problem finder.

  • Be a fountain, not a drain.

  • Attract people, don’t repel them.

  • Find the good in others instead of focusing on the bad.

  • Be positive instead negative.

  • Recognize other people’s strengths; don’t point out their weaknesses.

  • Be a leader, not a follower.