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Can You Make An Amiable Personality Style A Top Salesperson?

Jim Collin’s landmark book, Good to Great was first to draw attention to how necessary it was to get “the right people on the bus.”  Many have taken that as hiring for attitude and teaching the job but I think it goes further.

In the last post I covered the Driver personality. This time we’re examining their polar opposite, the Amiable when working in your retail store.

We’re finding more and more untrained Amiables on the retail sales floor who end up lurking behind the counters (or the castle as I like to call it) passively waiting for customers to approach them and say, “I’ll take it!” It’s not their fault…

To grow retail sales these days, customers need to be cajoled, coached, and cared for in a more assertive way.

Because they’re so sensitive to people’s feelings, Amiables don’t like to challenge assumptions. Or push to get the sale. Or step outside their comfort zone.

That’s why, if they are left untrained, they could be a liability on your sales floor.

Sure they can be seen as popular because “everyone likes them so much.” But there’s a big difference between being liked for niceness and liked for sales.

The good thing is that since Amiables live vicariously through others, they can imagine what it would be like for someone to receive a gift and smile warmly. And once they can relax and not fear being rejected, they can be some of the most authentic, genuine people you’ll meet.

Amiables are by nature the caregivers of society – teachers, nurses, community service volunteers – they need to help people. They ask, “Can I help you?” in earnest (even though its one of the worst greetings to use.)  Friendly and loyal, the Amiable is the epitome of the classic TV show Cheers.

The challenge for the Amiable personality is the drive to make the sale.

It’s just not there in the same way as some of the other personalities.

Don’t get me wrong, because Amiables are generous with their time, they can help another Amiable with a purchase. If something goes wrong, they will work hard to mend the relationship–it’s who they are. And that’s a good thing.

Amiables form an easy relationship with each other and naturally treat them like they were family.  The challenge is the other half of the world, (the other three personalities,) probably don’t want to be treated like family. The Driver wants to be treated like a player, the Analytical wants to be treated like an expert, and the Expressive wants to be treated like a celebrity. None of those come naturally to the Amiable personality.

François de la Rochefoucauld might have been talking specifically about the Amiable personality style when he said four hundred years ago, “We promise according to our hopes and perform according to our fears.”

Where the Driver can make assertions about a product or service and challenge the customer to rethink or look at new options, Amiables don’t tend to do that because they fear rejection. Because they are hardwired to defuse tension, they have the potential to come off to not take a stand on what a customer should do.

Amiables have a hard time selling if they don’t have full faith in the product. If they are selling something they really believe in, their belief system will make them see it as helping the customer rather than selling them something. And they’ll make the sale.

Some Amiables might feel people shouldn’t be buying premium goods others can’t afford or that people should be helping others in this time of economic crisis, so they aren’t assertive in making a sale. (See my post on survivor guilt.)

Because they’re afraid of looking bad or offending someone, they might find it hard to reach within themselves and develop their other three personality styles, which in this demanding retail environment is what’s necessary.

Amiables make a good assistant and they can take direction well. Except when you tell them, “Go help them.” That’s because Amiables, much like the Analyticals, are in essence introverts when it comes to complete strangers.  So if you hire them into a commission setting, you have as much put them in a pressure cooker.

Which is why training is so very important to help get them over that natural tendency of avoiding risk.(Checkout my online retail sales training, SalesRX.com)

Managers contact me and say, “I have a bunch of senior salespeople; how can I get them to change?” The challenge is, if they are an Amiable personality, change is scariest to them.  They feel they’ve been doing well enough – why do they have to change?

Add the possibility you might hire some younger salesperson if they don’t perform and their stress level has just gone through the roof. Which is why other Amiable assistants and even managers might turn a blind eye to the problem – when it’s costing them sales. Especially if you put them on the floor with Drivers and Expressives who have no fear of making a sale; the Amiable could be seen by them as pulling sales down.

What I’m saying in my own Driver blunt way is…

Amiables don’t naturally sell; they like to help others like themselves.

Rewards and contests aren’t going to make them into superstars because they don’t value those type of rewards.

If you are an Amiable, here are a few things to expand your abilities and help make top salesperson:

  • Be aware of the time you are talking – not listening.
  • Make sure you aren’t over-sharing personal information or asking personal questions not relevant to the sale.
  • Force yourself to not fold your tent even if it feels like the customer didn’t respect you. Stay with it.
  • Buddy up with an Expressive or Driver personality and ask them how to improve.

find-your-personality-type-here

Amiables are social creatures who work well in groups but not so well alone, which is when they become more guarded.

Because they are so cautious, Amiables rarely let people know they’ve been hurt. While a Driver won’t enjoy criticism, they are not easily offended. The Amiable might be. That’s because again, their goal is to be well-liked. They can frustrate management because they are so passive.

For the Amiable personality working in retail, it has to go much farther than just being liked, you have to make the sale to all four personality styles. Decide to push your boundaries and sell and then you  too can end up being the top salesperson.

Looking to present the four personalities to your group? Bring Bob in to make a compelling case that is enlightening and fun.

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Posted by Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor on October 5, 2011.

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