John Boe International

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Selling to the Four Temperament Styles

by John Boe


Have you ever wondered why you seem to hit it off right away with some people, while with others it's more like oil and water? A person's temperament style not only determines his or her energy level, behavioral traits, body language patterns, and buying style, but it also influences compatibility with other people.


Yin Yang, the ancient Chinese symbol for balance, depicts the strong attraction and complementary nature of opposites. Just as oil and water repel, while magnet and metal attract, we too are attracted or repelled by other people instinctively. For example, each of us have met someone for whom we felt an immediate affinity or, for some unknown reason, an instant dislike. In reality, we are intuitively responding to the natural chemistry, or lack thereof, between temperament styles.


Today, we have access to revolutionary tools such as the Internet, cell phones, and video conferencing all to support us in communicating effectively. Even with all of these high-tech tools at our disposal, the alarming number of lost sales, disgruntled employees, dissatisfied customers and failed relationships are evidence that none of us are as effective at understanding people as we might like to believe. For example, what about that sale you thought you had closed, but for some unknown reason your prospect changed his or her mind and didn't buy... or at least they didn't buy from you. Chances are you lost that sale, not because of a lack of effort or product knowledge, but because of your inability to recognize and adjust to your prospect's temperament style. A temperament style mismatch is often referred to as a "personality conflict." Sadly, commission-based sales reps who don't know how to make adjustments to their sales presentation to match their prospects' temperament style or "buying style" end up with skinny kids!


Research indicates that there are four primary temperament styles; Aggressive, Expressive, Passive, and Analytical. Each of these four temperament styles requires a unique marketing approach and sales presentation strategy. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, is credited with originating the basic theory of the four temperament styles twenty-four hundred years ago. Since the days of ancient Greece, there have been many temperament theories and a wide variety of evaluation instruments, but essentially they utilize the four temperament styles that Hippocrates identified. Hippocrates observed that these four temperament styles have a direct influence on our character traits, personal preferences, and general outlook on life. A person's temperament style is determined genetically and has nothing to do with his or her gender, skin color, astrology sign, birth order, or childhood experiences. Environmental factors don't create a person's temperament style, they merely reveal it. For example, if you are born into the analytical temperament style, you will be shy and reserved for your entire life. This is why you can have children with different temperament styles raised by the same parents. 


If you're making a sales presentation to a prospect with the aggressive temperament style, go with a "big picture" bottom line solution approach. Under pressure, this temperament style can quickly become aggressive, explosive, and ill-tempered. Can you say Mike Tyson? It's definitely a good idea to give an aggressive temperament style prospect many options so you don’t threaten their need for control. In addition, be very careful not to waste their time with a long warm up or too much chitchat... get to the point quickly and stick to business. While at the other extreme, the analytical temperament style prospect has a need for detail and therefore requires a great deal of information and a much slower-paced sales presentation. If you make the mistake of going "big picture" with an analytical style prospect, they will feel that you are not giving them enough information to make a decision. The analytical temperament style is often referred to as having an engineer's mentality. It's not that they want to be right; it's that analytical people can't stand to be wrong. They would rather research information than make a premature buying decision. Their cautious, "numbers-driven" analytical nature makes them extremely susceptible to "paralyses through analysis" and buyer’s remorse. It pays to give the analytical temperament style prospect tons of facts, guarantees, testimonials, and continuous reassurance that they're making a good decision.


Tips for Selling to the Aggressive Temperament Style

  • They tend to tell not ask
  • Their major weakness is "anger management"... hothead
  • Oriented on getting Quick Results
  • They ask “what” questions. Keywords: Results, Bottom Line, Speed, Save Time, and Control
  • Warm-up quickly and use a bottom line, just the facts approach
  • They may intimidate you with outbursts of anger
  • Give them options so they can be in control
  • Stay big picture and avoid details - use a colorful pie chart rather than a spreadsheet
  • Expect a quick decision                


Tips for Selling to the Expressive Temperament Style

  • They tend to tell not ask
  • Their major weakness is "emotional management"... crybaby
  • Oriented on Entertainment and People
  • They ask “who” questions. Keywords: Exciting, Fun, Trendy, Improved, and Enthusiastic
  • Warm-up quickly and use an entertaining, fast-paced approach
  • They may become emotional or talk too much
  • Give them compliments and ask for their opinion
  • Stay big picture and avoid details – use a colorful pie chart rather than a spreadsheet
  • Expect a quick decision


Tips for Selling to the Passive Temperament Style

  • They tend to ask not tell
  • Their major weakness is "self-esteem management"... doormat
  • Oriented on Service and Family
  • They ask “how” questions. Keywords: Family, Service, Support, Peaceful, and Caring
  • Warm-up slowly and use a low-key, harmonious approach  
  • They may withdraw if they feel “sales pressure”
  • Give them respect and show interest in family members
  • Use a step-by-step, detailed presentation – use numbers and or a spreadsheet 
  • Expect them to procrastinate because they dislike change


Tips for Selling to the Analytical Temperament Style

  • They tend to ask not tell
  • Their major weakness is "stress management"... worrywart
  • Oriented on Quality and Accuracy
  • They ask “why” questions. Keywords: Logical, Safety, Precise, Craftsmanship, Economical, and Quality      
  • Warm-up slowly and use an analytical, detailed approach
  • They may become aloof or sarcastic
  • Give them accurate and detailed information
  • Use a step-by-step, detailed presentation – use numbers and or a spreadsheet
  • Expect them to want to “think it over” because they are frugal and would rather research than make a mistake and appear incompetent


While there are certainly many factors that influence the selling process, by far the most important factor is to identify your prospect's temperament style. Once you learn how to quickly and accurately determine your prospect's temperament style, you'll be able to close more sales in less time!

"Character is something you forge for yourself; temperament is something you are born with and can only slightly modify."                                             - Sydney J. Harris 



John Boe presents a wide variety of motivational and sales-oriented keynotes and seminar programs for sales meetings and conventions. John is a nationally recognized sales trainer and business motivational speaker with an impeccable track record in the meeting industry. To have John speak at your next event, visit or call 937-299-9001. Free Newsletter available on website.


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Category: Sales Training

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