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What MBTI insights mean for sales management? Contemporary psychologists show little patience with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®). They continue to criticize its weaknesses. These include low “test-retest reliability” because there is a 50/50 chance that a retest will place you in a different personality category.

Another criticism finds the MBTI® scoring personalities into mutually exclusive categories when most people are a mix. And, perhaps because there is no positive correlation between personality types and success in any specific occupation, even The Myers-Briggs Foundation warns against using it to weed out candidates for a job. But, given the indicator’s heavy use, we want to consider just what MBTI insights mean for sales management.

Not an aptitude test

The MBTI® does not measure anyone’s fitness for a job. It measures preferences not traits, and it finds no trait more important or valuable than any other does. So, it does not measure IQ, skills, talents, or aptitude.

Too many managers and human resources professionals are cavalier about this. They will administer the test and read results as assessing a candidate’s “fitness.” However, results can be self-rewarding if professionally administered and results conscientiously communicated.

  • Results may help you approach your job better.
  • Understanding preferences may help you relate to other people better.
  • Outcomes may help you form and motivate teams well.
  • Assessments may help you reduce or eliminate barriers to productivity and success.

The Washington Post (2012) found some $20 million in revenues pad to CPP, Inc., the MBTI® exclusive distributor and 2,500 Americans certified to administer the instrument in 2011. But, this universal demand for the assessment does not make it the platinum standard.

What MBTI insights mean – Useful insights

The MBTI® is used so heavily that organizations risk creating a culture or ideology built around the MPTI® assessments. It runs the risk of becoming prescriptive rather than descriptive. And, this heavy use reflects CPP’s heavy marketing efforts.

Still, there are practical values that help managers manage people, teams, and customers.

Extrovert/Introvert

  • Extroverts manage from the front, gathering staff, promoting energy, and structuring meetings.
  • Introverts run operations from their office, calling meetings as required. They value personal quiet time where they can analyze and plan.

Sensing/Intuitive

  • Sensing managers process facts. They value metrics as the index of organization quality. They work from reports, figures, graphs, and data.
  • Intuitive types are driven by vision and innovation. They value new approaches and the collaboration people bring to the process.

Thinking/Feeling

  • Thinking managers act decisively on the objective data before them. Their decisions include cold critical appraisal of the work around them rather than constructive appraisal.
  • Feeling managers build personal relationships to motivate and deliver. They will praise staff and integrate process corrections through feedback and teamwork.

Judging/Perceiving

  • Judging managers focus on goals, targets, and strategic planning. Employers recruit them because their orientation naturally aligns with organizational ideals.
  • Perceiving managers bring flexibility and responsiveness to the office. Innovation and growth need these perspectives, and they serve to offset the driving accountability of the judging managers.

Myers-Briggs and Job Satisfaction

What MBTI insights mean for sales management

When senior management builds develops its culture on MBTI® thinking, it risks placing people in all the wrong positions for all the wrong reasons. It risks the dismissal of common sense, and it makes faulted assumptions about human capital.

However, MBTI testing can provide useful data for sales management. For example, certain traits may serve certain products better.

  1. Extrovert/Introvert
  • Extroverts should be more comfortable to engineered products and applications. They should connect more easily and comfortably with customers focused on facts.
  • Introverts will find more comfort representing “soft” products like insurance or educational materials centered on ideas and reflection.
  1. Sensing/Intuitive
  • Sensing sales reps will base presentations on researched data for customers who value checklists and evidence.
  • Intuitive reps search for ways of shaping a presentation to their perception of the customer’s needs. They help customer to visualize product in use.
  1. Thinking/Feeling
  • Thinking sales people present products in the form of an organized solution. The solution forces decision-making and allows little room for argument. When the approach fails, the rep will fault the prospect.
  • Feeling sales people build personal relationships. They cultivate relationships in frequent calls, and they integrate customer feedback into future offers.
  1. Judging/Perceiving
  • Judging inclined sales reps can be “rainmakers” in sales fields involving tangible and concrete
  • Perceiving types approach and respond to prospects with agility. They will visualize solutions and empathize with customer needs.

What do MBTI insights mean for sales management? With a sensible approach to the MBTI concept and a cautious use of the instrument outcomes, sales managers can create and blend teams more successfully. Sales reps can understand their own motivations better and interface more productively with teammates and prospects.

On the other hand, sales managers may want to look at more relevant variations on preference typing and at newer tools with roots in the tradition we have been reporting in repIGNITE.com.

Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tomek Jordan

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