The 4 Humors of Buyers (And How To Sell To Each)

If we unmask, rip apart, and dissect how the sales process works, it’s actually pretty simple: 

You make the sale when your beliefs align with your buyers’ beliefs.

It sounds easy, but in reality, there are so many psychological layers involved that complicate things. 

Here’s how.

As a seller, you’ll encounter various types of buyers that have unique individual concerns. The problem is, even if you have the solution to their needs, you still have to figure out how to affect their behavior to secure the sale. That’s where it gets tricky. Closing a deal is all about sales psychology and it’s possible to blow a multi-thousand dollar transaction with a potential buyer if you don’t guide the buyer to your desired outcome.

You can only change a buyers’ behavior if you change their beliefs. 

No matter what type of buyer you’re selling to, it’s important to understand your customers’ personalities and how they approach making decisions. By learning the four humors of buyers, you will be more effective in selling your product or service and closing more sales.

The four humors or temperaments are: sanguine, choleraic, melancholic, and phlegmatic and each corresponds to a specific personality type.

In this article, we’ll explain each humor and give an overview of how they differ as buyers. We’ll also provide a detailed explanation of how to approach and sell to each humor.

What is Humorism?

Humorism, or humoral theory, is the belief that suggests each person is born with a designated temperament or humor which then determines their overall personality. The four humors include: sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic. This theory was popular in Ancient Greece and Rome and continued to be influential throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance. 

Today, humorism is still used as a tool to recognize and predict human behavior in marketing. Since each of the four humors corresponds to a specific customer personality, business owners who master this concept will likely be more effective when selling to each type of buyer

When it comes to sales, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The best entrepreneurs are the ones who are able to adapt their selling style to fit the buyer they’re working with. Every customer wants to be understood, and relating to their personalities through your brand will increase your likelihood of closing a deal. Learning the four humors of buyers will help greatly in that matter.

Burning the midnight oil to understand buyers using the four temperaments can be daunting, but it’s totally worth it. If you’re looking for expert guidance in the field of humorism, Wizard of Sales® is your guide. Book a demo.

The 4 Humors of Buyers

1. Choleric

Residential home service business owners may have met choleric personality buyers one too many times in their enterprise. These buyers always want to siphon the littlest bits of information regarding the service you’re doing to help them make decisions and move forward. From knowing what equipment your team will install to how many hours it takes to finish the project, choleric buyers want in on everything.

Buyers who fall under the choleric personality category are assertive and goal-oriented. This customer personality is motivated by power and respect which means they tend to be impatient and control freaks at times because they prioritize results over personal relationships

If you manage to deliver on your commitments and exceed their expectations, you can build a professional relationship with them. Since they’re harder to please, you’ll earn a loyal brand ambassador should you earn their respect through your services.

Here are some tell-tale signs to spot choleric buyers:

One barometer that you have a choleric buyer on your plate is their speaking format. Cholerics often speak in declarative sentences. For example, instead of asking “what are the HVAC services you offer?” they’ll boldly say “I’m looking to upgrade my heat pump to a geothermal system.” Buyers who fall under the choleric customer personality have a clear grasp of what they want. 

Other clues that give them away are:

  • They lean forward when talking to you
  • There is confidence in their body language
  • They use bold gestures when speaking
  • They seldom cross their legs or arms

2. Melancholic

The melancholic personality buyers, a.k.a. the analytics, are people naturally inclined to data, facts, and figures. Personality-wise they are a thoughtful bunch, but business is business to these buyers

Given their proclivity for facts, they look past the flowery and verbose pitch and focus more on the details that matter regarding the project. During a sales call, prepare for a detailed question and answer period. They value thoroughly screening all options available and will take their time making decisions. It’s important to be patient and to provide them with all the information they need to make a decision.

The melancholic personality is the most cautious and logical among all the four humors. They’ll also likely conduct a background investigation on you and your business, including previous clients, prior to a sales call. Don’t be surprised if these prospects seem to know you from the get-go. 

Here are some tell-tale signs to spot melancholic buyers:

Melancholics value facts over personal relationships. One indicator is they talk in a rather straightforward and formal tone. They won’t express much or create unnecessary gestures doing sales calls, but you can be sure they’re attentive. Moreover, most of their queries will be factual, detailed, and possibly benefit or feature-centric. These buyers will likely speak to multiple vendors to make a thorough decision.


3. Phlegmatic

Unlike the choleric and melancholic personalities, phlegmatic buyers are more amiable or “friendly.” This suggests that buyers who fall under this category value personal relationships before securing a deal. In other words, they’d like to get to know and trust the people they’ll be working with first.

Most of the time, phlegmatic buyers are easygoing, laidback, and relaxed. Even if every customer that steps into your world already has a perceived outcome in mind, this type of buyers appreciate unexpected solutions apart from their original conceptions. 

Phlegmatics are the easiest clients to have for residential home service businesses because they don’t do rigorous research prior to a sales call. This means you can guide them better to act on your desired action. The only problem is that phlegmatics are indecisive at times and pressuring them is a bad idea. For a home service provider, that implies a longer sales process than normal.

Here are some tell-tale signs to spot phlegmatic buyers:

It’s easy to spot phlegmatic customer personalities in sales calls because they often swerve to ask more personal questions to seek common ground between both parties. They are friendly, good-natured, and great listeners on sales calls. Conversations with phlegmatic buyers are generally informal and laidback.

4. Sanguine

The sanguine buyer hits close to home with phlegmatics because of their focus on building personal relationships. The only difference is that their outgoing and sociable nature often dictates their decision-making, giving them the moniker “humanists.”

When making purchase decisions, sanguines need to factor in other people’s well-being. Since they lean towards being people-pleasers, more often than not, they’ll choose the path of least resistance. Don’t let their bubbly dispositions fool you, they have strong personalities which they use to persuade others into their strongly held convictions.

You’ll notice sanguine prospective buyers be impulsive and spontaneous on sales calls but don’t make the mistake of making offhand commitments with them. While they appreciate loyalty and friendship, they’re also as easy to pull the plug on a professional relationship should you renege on an agreement. 

Here are some tell-tale signs to spot sanguine buyers:

Buyers with a sanguine personality are easy to spot. Think of them as enthusiastic cholerics. They are firm with what they want so they use declarative sentences rather than questions but speak in a highly engaging and colorful tone. The key to earning sanguine buyers’ favor is to meet their same level of enthusiasm during meetings.

How To Approach and Sell To Them?

In sales psychology, understanding the psyche of your prospect is the pillar in effectively selling your products and services. Instead of going in blindly and convincing your buyers that they need your solution, you find ways to appeal to their wants and needs — this includes customer personalities

Some buyers prefer logic and reasons, while others value emotion and relationships. Understanding their psychological needs is the cornerstone of a good sales process. There are only two general steps on how to approach buyers psychologically:

  1. Determine your customer’s personality type (use indicators like body language and tone of voice)
  2. Modify your sales presentation to cater to your buyers’ personality type

The first step is manageable enough. The second step needs a little bit of practice before you can master and implement it during sales calls. Here are the ways to approach the four humors:

1. Choleric Client

  • Be professional

Professionalism is a quality that choleric buyers hold up to their standards. Always come prepared when you have a scheduled call with this customer personality type. Since they are a bit quick-tempered, it’s ideal to be upfront about things you don’t know the answer to yet. Instead of giving a half-baked answer, assure them that you’ll send a follow-up to their query.

  • Efficiency is key

Choleric customer personality like to get things done quickly and that includes your sales meeting. Don’t dwell on reiterating information and long build-ups. This doesn’t mean you should be hasty but always cut to the chase. A direct, yet relaxed and flexible approach works best.

  • Focus on the advantages

Remember that features and benefits are only a means to an end. Goal-oriented buyers like cholerics want to know the advantages of choosing your solution over others. Explain how your services satisfy a pleasure point or soothe a pain point they’re currently experiencing.

  • Use humor when appropriate

Choleric buyers respond well to humor because it helps diffuse tension and stress relief. If you manage to make a choleric buyer laugh, they’ll be more likely to listen to your sales pitch and consider your product or service.

Melancholic Client2. Melancholic Client

  • You rush, you crash

Analytic thinkers like those with melancholic personalities need all the time they can get to absorb all the facts. They need it to make informed decisions and avoid post-sale regrets. 

  • Expect they know the basics

Melancholics are research-intensive folks. They likely have a clear understanding of the basic information. Don’t dwell on introductions for an extended period, and if applicable, discuss heavily the custom or personalized solution you prepared for them.

  • It’s safe to assume they know you

Steer clear of unsubstantiated claims especially when you don’t have data to support them. This may hurt your credibility and ultimately, your transaction with choleric buyers. Focus more on factual information and avoid flowery language. Be ready and willing to discuss the flaws in your offering, as this demonstrated a high level of integrity to a melancholic. 

  • Quantitative over qualitative 

Give clear and measurable values. For example, “on a regular summer day, our air conditioner will decrease your household’s ambient temperature by 10 degrees after 15 minutes” instead of saying “it will keep things cool at home.” Specifics are more convincing than generalities. 

3. Phlegmatic Client

  • Build a solid rapport

Relationships matter most for phlegmatic buyers. Make sure that you entertain and reciprocate their personal questions to foster confidence. They’re more likely to trust you than other brands if you nurture a working relationship from the start.

  • Vivid visions are your friends

Among the other four temperaments, phlegmatics are the easiest to sway and influence. They appreciate more creative solutions than the ones they originally conceived. Your responsibility is to guide them towards the best solution and help them visualize the advantages of choosing your products or services.

  • Cite relatable previous engagements 

With phlegmatics’ propensity for storytelling, bring up excerpts of your other clients who enjoyed your solutions. Explain what encouraged them to choose you. Dissect which features are most relevant to them and make them visualize the underlying advantages of having such. It’s the details like these that convince phlegmatic buyers.

  • Options, not direct pressure

It can be tempting to forcefully secure a sale, especially in the residential home service industry. However, this will hurt your transaction more than it will help. Take the mantle of a facilitator that guides phlegmatic buyers through the decision-making process. Allow them enough time to decide.

  • Highlight your guarantees

One of the reasons phlegmatic customer personalities take time to decide is that they’re risk-averse. This is where your value proposition shines through. Highlight your self-imposed punishment should you fail to deliver your commitments to compel them to choose you and appease their raging anxiety.

4. Sanguine Client

  • Match their vibrance

Sanguines are a highly vibrant clientele. Matching their vibrance doesn’t mean you should be as energetic as they are. However, give the sales call as much enthusiasm as they do. Dance to the music being played. 

  • Provide assurance

Clients who fall under this customer personality value mutualistic relationships. In this case, assure them that you’re looking out for their greater good. The best way to do this is by presenting your case studies. Mention your track record with concrete references and explain how choosing your solution made the difference.

  • Re-engage post-sale

This is a more proactive approach that residential home service businesses must apply. Always remember that engagements go beyond the point of sale, which means maintaining active communication despite project completion. Since sanguines value relationships, doing so can be a great opportunity to encourage recurring transactions. That means not all your follow up should be sales-oriented. 

  • Reframe your selling angle

Sanguines tend to please people. You can use this personality to insert how your products or services will benefit not only them but also others. The secret is to have a prepared answer to this question prior to a sales call: “How will your solution make an impact on other people?

  • Convince their buy-in

Sanguines can be agreeable and you can nudge the prospective buyer to get buy-into your offer by summarizing every now and then. Asking them questions like: “Do you agree that a better ductwork system will make your household more comfortable?

How Do Your Buyers Feel During and After a TransactionHow Do Your Buyers Feel During and After a Transaction?

Knowing the four temperaments are merely pieces of a bigger puzzle. Even if you appeal to buyershumors, without a solid product or service, an impressive value proposition, and a 5-star buying experience, you will fail in your endeavor.

Make sure your arsenal is equipped with all of the above elements to guarantee the success of your sales pitch. Here are important statistics to remember before, during, and after a transaction:

  • Always make sure every customer touchpoint is geared toward issue resolutions because 90% of customers consider this the most crucial customer service concern as reported by KPMG.
  • According to Salesforce, 70% of customers say that technology makes it easier to choose competitors when needed. If you fail to secure a transaction, customers will always find the best alternative solution. This is corroborated by Bain when they said customers are four times more likely to select competitors for unresolved service-based problems.
  • Microsoft says 90% of Americans regard customer service as a deciding factor whether to do business with a company or not. Make sure your communication lines are ready to address customer queries and concerns.
  • Based on HubSpot Research, immediate response to customer service questions is essential to 90% of customers. Another 60% confirmed that “immediate” means 10 minutes or less response time. 

These nit-bits are helpful information to consider on top of familiarizing yourself with the four humors of buyers. Countless alternatives lurk around the corner, especially in the residential home service industry. Unless you knock the customer interactions and service out of the park, customers will choose competitors who can fulfill where you fell short.

Familiarization with sales psychology and the four humors will prop up your sales efforts. If you find yourself struggling with how to appeal to your prospects’ psyche, Wizard of Sales® will teach you to read their minds. Book a call.