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During a sales training, we had to take a quiz to determine our selling style. My selling style is that of the “shopkeeper”. Shopkeepers are known for having a pleasant personality and helping people find the things that they need to be successful. Warm, friendly, and fond of providing good service, shopkeepers make excellent company. This sales style isn’t one that is inherently cut out for making it big in sales. Shopkeepers can be sensitive, introverted, and hesitant to initiate calls and utilize sales techniques to close a deal. Closers must have the ability to lay down the line, to focus too much on rapport and not enough on hitting numbers. Despite this, I make it work – after all, I’m still here!

The recommendation for people who fall into the “shopkeeper” category is to let people know what you want, don’t be too friendly, and to talk less. These are all things that I have taken upon myself as I have grown in my sales career. However, I have a few points of my own that I wanted to add to this list. Below are some tips on how to make it in sales without changing who you are as a person.

Learning To Say “No”

I’m a bit of a people-pleaser. It makes me a loyal friend and a terrible authoritarian. Call it “Minnesota Nice” but I hate to tell people that they can’t have things. When I began to work at Acquirent, I would often disguise things that I couldn’t offer behind meaningless platitudes. This meant I spent more time on the phone than I should have trying to talk my way out of things.

Eventually, I found that I could tell others that we couldn’t offer things straight up. “No.” This powerful word let me cut the crap and get to the point. Not every person you talk to is going to be a candidate for your product or service. My sales cycle demands that I find good leads, rather than trying to sell a service that ends at the price tag. I want loyal customers, not people on the fence about what I’m selling.

You’re in sales to close deals and generate revenue, not make friends. However, this doesn’t mean you have to be rude to customers or stop building rapport. I manage several hundred accounts, and I want to make sure that these people are getting the most of what I offer. Lying to these customers about what we have by waffling answers means they won’t care about our service. I’d rather have one good account spending thousands of dollars per year than ten accounts spending a hundred apiece.

Be honest, and tell it with a smile. Your customers will value it.

Take Criticism, but Don’t Take Things Personally

The line between the work one does and the person that they are can be difficult to distinguish. What do I mean by this? The sales persona that I use is an extension of me selling a product. It is a reflection of who I am, but not who I am as a person.

I love criticism. I am not afraid to fail, because I know that I can always improve. I was not always like this, but I have fallen into this position and embrace it. By maintaining this dichotomy, I can excel at sales without being hurt by negative feedback.

Take some of the customers that I deal with. Many of them are pleasant, kind people, but some of them are assholes. It’s the nature of the trade. I am told things like “I’m disappointed that you can’t offer me this” or “I guess we’ll have to shop elsewhere.” These criticisms can be valuable information to you about what you are selling. They also aren’t about you. Learning to differentiate product criticisms and ad hominem attacks on your personality will help boost your grittiness.

Exerting Willpower

Kindness can be seen as a sign of weakness in some sales situations. That is the case when it is misapplied. Some sales require salespeople to be pushy about their product. Others, especially longer sales cycles, require rapport. The key is in exerting willpower.

It can be extremely difficult to say no to someone you like. Alternatively, your product might be nearly identical to competitors – good service can be the selling point. Use your good nature to rack up the sales.


The “shopkeeper” personality might not seem ideal to sales positions. It requires patience and a learning mindset to succeed, but can work in your favor. Understanding your weaknesses will allow you to flex your strengths and exceed sales goals. Use your selling style to your advantage, bolstering yours strengths and workshopping your weaknesses.