Four Personality Temperaments of Clients You’ll Meet (and How to Sell to Them)

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on March 05, 2019

Whether you work in sales, real estate, or in any service industry, you may have noticed that you seem to click with some clients more than others. Though it is by no means a natural law, we find it easy to relate to people with a personality similar to ours. As an INTP and a former real estate agent, I found myself naturally drawn to clients who chose which home to buy based on statistics such as location, square footage, layout, how it compares to similar properties, and the return on investment you could expect. You know, analytical stuff.

I dare to say that dealing with clients would be easier if they came with a personality type report at hand. Sadly, the universe simply isn’t that generous. It’s your job to identify the personality of your clients, and tailor the way you communicate and present information to them.

But you don’t need to become a living, breathing, test giving machine to do so. David Kiersey’s four temperaments encompass all 16 personality types, giving you a general framework that is easy to memorize, and let’s you tailor your interactions with your clients on the fly.

The Guardian – ESTJ, ISTJ, ESFJ, ISFJ

The Guardian is the most common temperament, with 40 to 45 percent of the entire world population qualifying as such. Based of that statistic alone, you are basically guaranteed to run into a Guardian client.

As the word indicates, Guardians are motivated to protect what’s precious to them. That precious something is usually family, but customs, traditions, authority and social structure also rank high. Guardians are for the most part dependable, hardworking, and trustworthy people. You can count on them to show up on time to appointments, produce all the documentation you need when signing a contract, and get all their affairs in order if they need to meet qualifications.

On the other hand, due to their innate desire for stability, Guardians are not very comfortable with the breakneck speeds of technological advancement, and societal change. While they understand that change is inevitable, they don’t necessarily like it.

When dealing with a Guardian, it’s important that you don’t dwell on the technical details of your service. Focus on the big picture. Show them how their lives will be improved by your services. If closing the deal involves a lot of steps, and requires your client to produce a lot of documents, make sure you let your Guardian client know how you will use our expertise to get them get through the entire process painlessly.

The Artisan - ESTP, ISTP, ESFP, ISFP.

If you’ve ever worked with a client who dresses in unconventional ways, consistently has an interesting anecdote to tell, and is has an unmatched level of energy, chances are that you were speaking to an Artisan.

Artisans are constantly seeking stimulation and pleasure, and generally believe that actions and events that aren’t fun are a waste of time. But don’t automatically assume that an extrovert is automatically an Artisan. ISTPs and ISFPs belong to the Artisan temperament, and are very much introverted. What unites all Artisans is they are Sensing and Perceiving. As such they value spontaneity, and focus on the now.

Artisans have a tendency to act now and deal with the consequences later, and have fewer inhibitions than other temperaments. Some may interpret that approach to life as impulsive and careless, while some find it refreshing and liberating.

In my experience, it was always obvious who the Artisans were during an open house. Artisans always comment how wonderful the house is staged, how delicious the refreshments are, and how nice it would be to just move into the house. They even plan out loud where they want to put the own furniture, and which color scheme they want for each room.

A challenging aspect of dealing with an Artisan is gauging their real level of interest. An Artisan may say so many wonderful things about what they can get out of your services, that you may think they are just itching to close the deal. But don’t celebrate just yet. An Artisan’s endless praise is no guarantee of a closed deal. Artisans are simply expressive.

But don’t think that they are out to simply waste your time either.

Artisans buy goods and services as much as anyone else. You just need to correctly calibrate their level of enthusiasm to their real desire to buy it. Artisans also require patience. Of all four temperaments, Artisans are the most likely type of client to not have all their financial prerequisites in order. So it’s your job to guide them, and help them get their affairs and paperwork in order before you sign a contract.

The Idealist - ENFJ, INFJ, ENFP, INFP.

Idealists are some of the nicest, friendliest, sweetest people you’ll ever meet. Idealists are very concerned with personal growth and development, and thrive in helping others do the same. As such, they make great teachers, inspiRational leaders, and friends. They always try to see the good in others, and always strive to keep relationships and interactions harmonious. As such, they are make good neighbors and friends, and are generally a pleasure to work with.

As their name indicates, they focus on ideals. That includes how life and relationships should be, and how people should treat one another. Of course, life is less than ideal, and there is a certain roughness to life that can’t be avoided. A unique challenge about dealing with Idealists is that even though they understand conflict is a part of life, they would much rather avoid it.

When engaging an Idealist clients, it’s important to remember that they will place a lot of value on the relationship you build with them as clients. When you speak with an Idealist, he or she will give you undivided attention. At the same time, Idealists expect your undivided attention when dealing with them. So keep your phone on vibrate, and focus on providing the best customer experience you can give.

When negotiating with an Idealist, try to avoid closing techniques such as the urgency close, in which you focus on a fear of loss. You may think that an Idealists aversion to conflict would mean they are vulnerable to this technique. It may produce a sale on the short run, but you can easily lose the Idealist’s trust. But if your Idealist client has a great customer experience, you will have a loyal client for life.

The Rational - ENTJ, INTJ, ENTP, INTP.

The Rational temperament accounts for around 10% of the entire population, making it the smallest category of clients you’ll encounter. Rationals are known for their pragmatism, logical thinking, and a thirst for knowledge. They love working with abstract concepts, possibilities, and are quite creative with their problem solving. Rationals are fiercely independent in their thinking, and tend to be very skeptical of all ideas, even their own. Because they thrive in an abstract world of ideas and potential, at times they can come across as cold, insensitive, and somewhat detached from reality.

Rationals value intelligence and ingenuity in their life and others. As such they gravitate towards professions that lets them use their imagination and lateral thinking abilities. It’s no surprise that Rationals dominate fields such as engineering, computer science and research. But their creativity also finds a home in artistic fields such as writing, acting, animation and music.

Dealing with a Rational client can be a daunting experience, even if you’re one yourself. Rationals do a lot of their own research before they even approach you. But don’t assume a Rational client isn’t interested in what you have to offer just because he or she doesn’t say much. As in the case of an Artisan, you need to calibrate their level of enthusiasm with their real desire to buy.

When a Rational client needs information from you, they will ask. But be ready to provide figures, statistics and market trends. It’s perfectly OK to spend more some time focusing on the features of your product. But when presenting any information, get to the point. Few things annoy a Rational client more than roundabout answers.

Some of the more Extraverted Rational clients approach the buying process as if they are on a mission, and may make you feel as if they don’t really need your services. You might be surprised how quickly those clients make up their minds once they have the information they need. Make sure you have a pen ready.

In conclusion, by paying attention to how your clients react, you can get an idea of what your client’s temperament is. And by understanding what drives all four temperaments, you will be better equipped to give deal with your clients, and they will love you for it.

Misael Lizarraga

Misael is a content writer with a passion for economics, art, and linguistics. When he isn't trying to learn a new skill, he can be found behind a good sci-fi novel, or working on a DIY project. Misael is also a strong supporter of lifelong education and an unapologetic INTP. His goal as a writer is to help readers adopt and maintain an entrepreneur mindset, and embrace the growing pains of personal growth. You can find more of his work at

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.

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