Can INFPs work in sales? 

I received an email from someone who is unhappy in sales that reads:

“I’ve just joined in a job which is completely opposite of my values as an infp, to be exact it is a position with 80% of work as a sales executive. You would know that as an infp it drains me and its demoralizing. I don’t believe in manipulation or politics. I really need your expert advice at this point. I wanted to work for a big company and here I am hating every bit of it living in a city I hate.”

First, let’s make sure we don’t use the INFP type as a reason why we aren’t happy. I’m quite sure there are many INFPs who are in sales and excel at it.

Ultimately I think it’s doable if you believe in the product and both the job and company align with your values.

There are companies that will force you to use scarcity and other selling tools. That’s fine if you believe the product will help the person. Scarcity sometimes gets people to move on important things in their lives that they otherwise would have ignored.
But if you’re selling something you don’t believe in, you’re going to have a hard time convincing your heart that it’s worth it.
A good way to see what you’re having trouble with specifically is looking at your values and anti-values.

Values are the things you admire about yourself and others. Mine are creativity, courage, compassion, hilarity and intellect to name a few.

Anti-values are the things you can’t stand about yourself or others. Mine are greed, stupidity and a few others that my brain won’t let me access right now.

Here are examples of what would work and not work for me as a salesman:

1) If I were one of the assholes selling Martin Shkreli’s HIV drug (quick backstory, he increased the price from $13.50 a pill to $750), I would have had trouble. Before the price hike, I would have been behind selling it because it saves lives. After the price hike, my anti-value of greed would have kicked in and I would have either quit or been stuck because I had a value and anti-value conflicting and pushing in different directions. The value says “you need to help the people who need this drug”. The anti-value says “it’s not right to let the rich get richer on the backs of the sick.” And I’d be paralyzed.

2) If I were selling Legos, I’d be rich. I would happily sell Legos to the entire world. Kids, adults, everyone! They are the greatest toy in the world and I love everything about the toy and the company. My inner child dances with joy at the thought.

Ok, that oversimplifies things of course.
It would be a challenging job for me.

My fear of rejection would kick in a lot so I’d need to get comfortable with the fact that some people won’t buy and some might buy down the road. (I have a lot of vendors present to me at work and the best ones let me walk away and come back months later without annoying the hell out of me every week).

My fear of being the center of attention would kick in so I’d need to work on my presenting skills.

And let’s not forget the company that you work for.

If the selling culture was to annoy customers and “not leave any money on the table” and to “close close close!!!!” I would jump off a bridge. But if it’s “treat customers like humans and create relationships with them. Plant seeds that grow organically,” that’s a very different culture that I can get behind.

Do you see the differences there?

Even if you’re not in sales, what can you take from this and put into place in your own life?

4 thoughts on “Can INFPs work in sales? ”

  1. As an INFP I found myself working in sales and I simply live it. As long as I have the freedom to organize my workload and be creative and propositional in a non competitive environment.
    Soft skills are very important to me in the work environment. I have quite some experience working in big companies. I would suggest to try finding a job in a startup or a small company. There is less structure and our creativity can be very useful.
    Selling is ok as long as you don’t believe you are scamming others, or screwing up the environment. Don’t try to work for Monsanto to say one.
    Also, give a purpose to your job…if you are earning well, in sales it’s not that bad… help others! It’s full of people that needs help and love.
    Be a responsible consumer and remember that cheap Chinese product are made in China exploiting poor people in working and living condition that are awful. Pay more but buy products that are made fairly.
    The world will be such a better place too.

  2. Hi Mike!
    It’s funny. I just replied to a simmilar post on FB. They were asking if it was possible for an INFP to become a buisnessperson (Sales Managaer, etc..) “Everything is possible. MBTI doesn’t dictate what you have to become. If that’s what you want then go for it. MBTI can be helpful in knowing what areas of your personality you could need to develop to be able to reach your goal. INFPs will have a hard time doing anything if their heart isn’t in it and that doesn’t allign with their values, so you maybe should keep that in mind. We’re also known for being professional procrastinators and to not agree with our deadlines, but, you can change that.” I think the key is in working on your weaknesess and your strengths. If you really think that’s going to make you happy, that is :).
    Naiara M.

  3. I’ve found myself in a sales job and miserable with it and was delighted and relieved to see this article!

    The key to an INFP in sales, seems to be, “Ultimately I think it’s doable if you believe in the product and both the job and company align with your values.”

    This is the very problem I have with the company where I am. Thank you for the confirmation of my similar conclusion and my sanity–I’ve had many people tell me that I’m just not working hard enough or with the right approach to the job.

  4. A mind opening post. Thank you so much for the input. Understanding the different personality types helps us reason the things we do and feel and i think you have put forward each aspect of the problem very well. Thanks again for this valuable post Mike. 🙂


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