Salesmen are those people that persuade us when we may be uncertain or even suspicious. They are the people who can convince us that what they are saying is right. For a product, or a service they may be an indispensable tool not just in the obvious – sales, but of making people belief in whatever it is they are talking about. Belief is a very strong currency in our world.
What are the attributes of salesmen? Most obviously the ability by the power of what they say or how they say it to convince us. Yet why do some people have such a gift whilst others of us fail so badly to convince others?
The answer is in the salesmen’s personality. Everyone’s personality is a unique footprint of who we are. Personality is a mix of the way we are ‘pre-wired’ and what we learn from our experiences. It is the summary of the way we see our world, our emotional reactions, our behaviour and even what we think and say to ourselves. Although personality is unique there are common themes and groupings. Recent research describes personality as the mix of five personality types: openness, consciousness, extroversion, agreeableness and nervousness (the so “five factor model”).
Salesmen are likely to exhibit high degrees of extroversion and openness They will have rapport, be active and positive (attributes of the extrovert) and be caring, modest, trusting and helpful (attributes of the agreeable person).
So why could knowing or employing a salesman be important? Salesmen as Gladwell points out critical to word of mouth epidemics because they have the skills to persuade us and if you have a product, a brand, or a company that needs promoting, then what better way is there than by being at the forefront of a social change wave or a social epidemic. In order to achieve such an exciting outcome you might want to know, use or employ salesmen.
You might think that finding them is hard, but in truth there are various helpful tools. Personality testing is a good way of assessing whether a person may be a potential salesman. There are varying types of tests, (be aware of the “pop” tests which aren’t based on the five factor model), but in depth and detailed tests will provide important results indicating a person’s agreeableness or extroversion. For employers such testing should be an important part of the hiring procedure. However, you may not be in a position to give a person you’ve met at a party a personality test. They might be more than slightly offended! However, you don’t necessarily need to administer a test. There are a number of traits, language and behavioral hints that can give a strong indication of whether a person is highly agreeable or an extrovert. You just need to know what to look for and quality sites that provide information on personality should be able to give clues e.g. extroverts are outgoing and good talkers; open minded people are conceptual and use colourful expressions.
To have a salesman on board, whatever your enterprise, whether that is working for you or someone you are acquainted with or someone you want to joint venture with could be crucial to your future success. They could be the key to putting you and your business or project at the tip of a social wave. Such a connection with a salesman could be completely by chance, but there are ways of shortening the odds and allowing you the chance of identifying and connecting with the salesmen.
By Daniel Rray