How to Deal with 5 Common Sales Associate Personalities

Chances are there's a dominant person among your associates, along with a people-pleaser and a negative Nelly. Here are five tips for managing those and other personality types so that your message is heard.

April 1, 2011


Match a dominant personality style with firmness. "When dealing with dominant, aggressive risk takers," says Anthony Vulin, broker-manager at Keller Williams Realty Los Feliz in Los Angeles, "I need to be quick and to the point. Everything needs to be in bullet points." Brandon Green, GRI, principal broker for Keller Williams Capital Properties in Washington, D.C., concurs. "Increase your rate of speech and be direct. Say, ‘If you don’t start changing, you’re not going to be successful.’ "


These types are typically social and outgoing—and care very much about what others think of them. "Their biggest fear is rejection, so I have to be extra cautious in approaching them," says Vulin. "They could be hurt easily." Use questions to lead people-pleasers to the conclusions you’d like them to reach. "I say, ‘Tell me what’s happening,’" explains Green. "Then I’ll ask follow-up questions: ‘How’s that working for you? What do you need to do?’ Ask questions to help them get clarity."


Daniel J. Beirne, GRI, ZipRealty’s broker of record for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., uses analogies to get perfectionists to lighten up. "One of my sales associates who sold two houses out of the gate made a contractual mistake," he explains. "I said, ‘You have the wrong expectation. If I were teaching you how to hit golf balls, you’d very likely hit some balls that didn’t go straight. Real estate is the same way. You can’t be perfect on day one.’"

Negative Nelly.

Validate a negative Nelly’s concerns, but don’t get drawn into a debate. "I either ignore negative comments or acknowledge them and move on," says Adam Kruse, broker at The Hermann London Group in Maplewood, Mo. "I’ll say, ‘Yes, you’re right, something bad could happen,’ and then move on. Or I’ll acknowledge that with everything we do, something could go wrong, but I’ll point out that doesn’t mean we should do nothing."

Underconfident worrier.

"We give underconfident associates more hand-holding and management," says Jason Burkholder, broker-sales manager at Weichert, REALTORS®®, Engle & Hambright in Lancaster, Pa. "Rather than waiting until they’re about to explode with fear, I touch base every week and give them constant feedback to make sure they’re doing well and not losing confidence."