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Current and future success in sales depends on a fuller understanding of the behavior of sales reps and customers. Much has been learned about the carrot and sticks that marketing can exploit to stir up interest in products and services. You might call these the macro strategies.

We have more to learn about human behavioral relationships at the micro level – between sales managers and sales reps and between sales rep and prospect. Before we can connect sales performance with the technology to enhance that performance, we must return to the origin of understanding motivation, to the appreciation of what early insights mean to your sales success.

The origins of motive

Recently, repIGNITE blog introduced this series of articles on the evolution of sales strategy towards partners like Insights® Discovery. After a broad introduction, we want to revisit the work of early psychologists to see what early insights mean to your sales success.

The names and works of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung enraged their contemporaries and thinkers throughout the century thereafter. Still, the dialog created sparked by their work has informed modern thought at every level. There is not enough space here or in contemporary thinking to summarize their contributions. What we can do is try to place some things in perspective.

Since antiquity, humanity has searched for explanations. They attributed good things and bad to natural forces – the air, wind, water, and fire. They put gods in charge of the whims of nature. And, later they would profile tribal cultures as behaviors. Theories of fates and destinies multiplied and diversified, and they warred as they gained power.

It would be the mid-eighteenth century before Jean Jacques Rousseau and Adam Smith dared to arouse thoughts of behavior arising from a sense of the self and motives of self-interest. This Enlightenment made room for soft “sciences” – economics, pedagogy, sociology, and psychology.

The search for a metaphor

When you try to explain the unexplainable, you have to resort to metaphors. Metaphors are analogs. They form a parallel language that pictures the difficult to explain. They are not literal, but this is something the critics of early psychology missed. Jung, for example, tried to categorize behaviors for the sake of discussion and understanding. It gives him too much credit to criticize him for “discovering” human behavior, a claim he never made.

Jung did feel that, if you wanted to simplify things, most human behavior could be classified as extraversion or introversion. The essence of Jung’s theory is simple.

When our minds are active and we are awake, we are alternating between taking in information and making decisions in our internal and external worlds

How we do this moves us toward one category or the other.

He also identified four basic functions: thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuiting. When you cross-classify functions, you find yourself on a matrix such as this:

what early insights mean to your sales success

Source Business Insider: How To Manage Every Personality Type Richard Feloni, Skye GouldPaul Tieger, Oct. 29, 2014
http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-manage-every-personality-type-2014-10?op=1
Text in graphic © 2014, SpeedReading People, LLC, all rights reserved.

Then, you might be designated as an INTP, ESTJ, and so on. Carl Jung taught that relationships formed and revealed personality. The most productive relationships were reciprocal, but the nature of relationships could leave one partner vulnerable.

Very simply, where the patterns match between individuals, you see a partnership. Where patterns conflict, the relationship is challenged but has the potential for marriage.                 

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed

You see, even with Jung’s terminology for classification, there is a struggle for the right choice of words. The terms describe more than observe. That limits their objective use.

The value here

Sales management did not interest Carl Jung. There is no evidence that he ever pontificated on the practical use of his terminology. His practice was always “a work in progress.” He was more directly interested in defining and treating mental and emotional health. But, Jung did leave fertile resources for later thinking, some of which would affect modern management theory and practice.

Our interest here lies in what early insights mean to your sales success. Our next section will examine the evolution of the Myers-Briggs analysis – its advantages and disadvantages – and prepare for tools and methodologies that followed.

Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tomek Jordan

advisory board member at Repignite
Interested in Sales Performance Management, Sales Incentive Management.