Retail Sales Consultant Tip: Words That Sell For Different Personalities

By Bob Phibbs

retail sellingWhen I was selling cowboy clothes at South Coast Plaza the (then) world’s highest-grossing mall per square foot, I noticed an employee trying to sell a pair of expensive boots to a woman.

The customer had tried on the baby blue ostrich cowboy boots - the ones with white tops and royal blue stitching and liked them. Yet, even at 20% off, our guy just couldn't make the $600 sale.

I went over and asked her why, if everything was a go, she still had reservations? Dressed in a pair of orange slacks and a fairly conservative top, she said, “I just don’t think I’d wear them very often here in Southern California.” Realizing that this was an Expressive personality in front of me, I immediately understood that she just wanted to be reassured.

I said, “They are really unique – you won’t find another pair for 1000 miles.” She hemmed and hawed and was getting ready to leave when I said, “And I’m sure you don’t have a fur or dress you only wear once in awhile in your closet. That wouldn't be practical.” She smiled. “You’re good,” she said. “I’ll take ‘em.”

But it wasn't about me, it was about realizing that the customer had a personality style that was open to being impractical rather than being practical.

Once you understand what is important to the customer, you will make more sales. But you have to understand the personality type you are trying to convince - a Driver, an Analytical, an Expressive, or an Amiable.

Can’t peg a style right away? That’s OK. Here are some tips that might help you get a handle on it:

First, can you type them as either a Thinker (Driver or Analytical) or a Feeler (Expressive or Amiable)? It can be as basic as listening for “I think” or “I feel.”

Are they talking about doing things with others or family? Might be a Feeler.

Do they talk about job stress or only having “a few minutes”? Might be a Thinker.

Do they come off more as joiners of groups (Feelers) or loners (Thinkers)?

Once you've identified them, you'll want to use these words and phrases to sell to them...

Words That Sell For Different Personalities

The Driver:

  • “The best”
  • “Quality”
  • “Others will be envious”
  • “Exclusive”
  • Name-drop

The Analytical:

  • Facts, figures and charts
  • Visuals
  • Independent reviews like Consumer Reports or outside testing sources
  • Guarantee
  • Will match lower price plus x% if found within x days of purchase

The Expressive:

  • “Unique”
  • “Customizable”
  • “Limited edition”
  • “Not for everybody”
  • “Lots of options”

The Amiable:

  • “Popular”
  • “Safe”
  • “Risk-free”
  • Friends and family will love you for choosing it
  • Mentioned in social media, popular magazines or popular shows
  • Return if you don’t like it


It’s great to know what will work, but often what stops a customer from buying are specific personality-related fears.

If the keywords above serve to encourage a customer’s “buy angel” on one shoulder, here’s what the “devil on the other shoulder “might be saying to discourage the sale.

What each personality style is afraid of when purchasing:

The Driver: Not doing the job they thought it would do.

The Analytical: Rushing into or making an impulsive/bad choice.

The Expressive: Not unique. I love it, but probably never be able to use it

The Amiable: Disappointing others/standing out from others.

In sum

What works for one customer may be the worst approach for another. In dealing with the four personality types, it’s important to know what not to do. I can train your sales staff about personality styles and my unique selling system.

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