Sales and the Enneagram

The Enneagram helps sales people be more customer-focused in a true sense of really understanding and serving the customer. With the Enneagram, they can learn about the inner drives, real needs, and core motives of different personalities – their own and those of their customers. The Enneagram system presents a map to understand the inner drive of people that is a major key to communicating more effectively, understanding one another, and avoiding misunderstandings.

It takes sales people and service personnel who are excellent communicators to go out to prospects and generate new business. It also takes people who are willing and able to initiate, receive, and act on feedback from the customer – to see whether he or she is satisfied, then to make changes with existing products and services and even use the collected data for research and development to create new products or services.

These two fundamentally different processes – finding prospects and utilizing feedback – require very different perceptual and communication skills, and the Enneagram is helpful with both. Through the Enneagram, sales people learn how to integrate the intelligence of their heads, hearts, and guts so they can become much more effective in the areas of human perception and communication, and each customer benefits from having sales people with a broad understanding of different personality styles.

Through the Enneagram, sales people get a very precise map for knowing their areas of strength, the areas of non-strength, and ways that help them manage their strengths so they are not used to excess and turned into a weakness. In addition, the Enneagram shows sales people many opportunities for personal and professional development.

Through using the Enneagram, sales managers, who are held accountable for profits and the turnover rates of their sales force, receive a powerful methodology by which they can manage their teams more effectively and also learn to lead by example when it comes to having a "customer focus." In almost all cases, sales people treat their customers in similar ways they are treated by their management. You can learn how the Enneagram applies to working with sales staff and in sales management.


The Enneagram for Sales Staff

    ONES like to do things as perfect as possible and need to learn that 80% of what is possible is more responsible in regards to using resources than trying doing everything 100%.

    TWOS establish relationships with their customers and sometimes get into difficulties when they need to communicate a rise in prices or make too many concessions when handling complaints.

    THREES present their product or services with so much enthusiasm and competence that they may sell much more than what the customer had anticipated and is prepared to pay for.

    FOURS may share too many experiences and the customer simply wants the data, facts, and figures.

    FIVES may have all the data but the customer may be interested in a warm-hearted sense of caring.

    SIXES may talk too much about all the risks involved but the customer needs a positive outlook of the future to decide.

    SEVENS get excited about the benefits for the customer and may overlook some concerns that the customer expresses nonverbally.

    EIGHTS may see the big picture and get impatient with a customer wanting to know all the details.

    NINES focus on a harmonious relationship with the customer and may make unnecessary concessions for harmony's sake.
> back to top


The Enneagram for Sales Managers

    ONE sales managers are excellent in defining assignments and schedules and developing work processes. On the other hand, they need to watch out that they don't restrict their sales people too much and undermine their much needed creativity.

    TWO sales managers have excellent sensors for other people's needs and enjoy developing the talent of their sales staff but by mixing private and business life and creating dependencies, they might unwittingly weaken people's ability to take responsibility for themselves.

    THREE sales managers work at a fast pace, are usually ahead of the competition, and have motivating goals for everybody and everything but may seem too impersonal or not approachable enough. Their staff might feel that they are only a means to an end and lose their loyalty.

    FOUR sales managers pursue their goals and mission with passion, motivating and creating meaning for their staff, but because they like to act on how they feel in the moment, disliking routines and sometimes not heeding standards, they might create the impression of being moody.

    FIVE sales managers lead their sales staff with objectivity, focus on facts and strategic issues, and demonstrate business acumen, but sales people who are usually relationship oriented might not feel appreciated and see the boss as distant and cold-hearted.

    SIX sales managers focus very much on a good team spirit, are very helpful when someone has problems, and sees to it that everybody in the team has a feeling of being part of the solution. However, they sometimes imagine problems when there are none, and seldom, if ever do they celebrate successes with the team.

    SEVEN sales managers are enthusiastic and leave room for creativity and unorthodox approaches for their sales people but when there are conflicts or problems, they tend to avoid them, focusing on the positive aspects only. This can create uncertainty in the team.

    EIGHT sales managers lead and act with certainty and a strong hand, even when it is painful, and they protect their team. However, when they feel that one of their sales people doesn't make an effort to meet expectations, they tend to simply drop and not support the individual any more.

    NINE sales managers leave room for the individuality of their sales people, like to support people, and are interested in everybody's opinion, but they have difficulties stating their own opinions and pushing uncomfortable decisions through that are necessary but not agreed to by their staff.


> back to top



Martin Salzwedel is a consultant, trainer, and executive coach working with companies across the globe. As the founder of Communications Consulting International in 1996, director of the Institute of Personality Development of the Boston Business School, and a senior consultant of the St. Gallen Group, Martin works with international leaders on executive development efforts throughout Europe, the United States, Canada, South America, and Asia. This has included work for international corporations such as Infor AG, Freudenberg Group, Molex, Visteon, Faurecia, Salzgitter AG, Siemens, Osram, American Express, Deutsche Bahn, Deutsche Telekom, as well as numerous small and medium sized enterprises in Europe.

In addition, Martin uses his expertise as an Enneagram teacher and his background as a concert-level cellist to unearth the full potential in the clients he serves. Martin has contributed to over a dozen publications on communication in leadership, sales, and negotiations, and published the first book on the Enneagram and Leadership in Germany in 2008 with Ulf Toedter, Fuhren ist Charaktersache (Leadership is a Matter of Character).

Martin has also taught at several universities, worked six years as an executive for an international media company, and spent eight years working for an US consulting firm. He began his career as a professional cellist.