Is Your Sales Rep a Sociopath or a Narcissist?

Executive Summary

  • The majority of salespeople fall into one of two categories. One is the sociopath and the second is the narcissist.


Salespeople normally fall into two psychological profiles. If you have a sales rep, you are therefore most likely dealing with one of these two categories of psychosis.

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How Narcissists Are Made

This video explains how narcissists are made through incompetent parenting.

The Narcissistic Process

Narcissists provide positive reinforcement and flattery in the beginning. The narcissistic process is to create a dependency, and then discard the individual. For a salesperson, it means flattering the prospect until they get them to buy and then discarding. I had a saleswoman I was dating do this to me. The speed at which the flattery turns to hostility is a telltale sign of a narcissist. I was also love-bombed by this narcissist in the early stages.

Naturally, within the sales context, the salesperson needs repeat sales, so when the time comes to sell again, the process is repeated. The experience of being the victim of a narcissist is explained in the following quotation.

It’s not usually until later in life after enough skeletons have piled up in their closet that their masks ever come off for the whole world to see who and what they really are. In the meantime, they leave a trail of heartbreak and destruction in their wake. I’m an INFJ “geyser empath” who has been victimized twice by a clinical narcissist. Love bombing, flattery, charm, perfection…until BAM…their mask comes off and your life is ruined. I’ve always compared it to a drive-by shooting. They pick you and use you like an oil well of emotional energy until the well is empty. Then they devalue you until you’re a shell of your former sell and discard you. The typical rationale they provide for onlookers is that you’re crazy. Actual narcissists are 100% dead inside. – Fairy God Boss

The mask is what the narcissist wears — and the grand discrepancy between the narcissist’s presentation of themselves and the negating way the narcissist can behave when they are frustrated is something I encountered first hand. Curiously the thing the narcissist was angry about was actually their own fault. However, they shifted the blame to me, and then after the mask came off, and they behaved rudely, they made an excuse that they were stressed.

I believe it is rare for narcissists to apologize.

Dealing With Narcissistic Projection

One of the tools a narcissist uses on their victim is projection. They will consistently turn everything you try to express to them back on you in order to make you feel you are the one who has the problem, the one who is at fault, the one who needs to take responsibility, the one who did wrong, the one who should feel guilty, the one who is making everything all about themselves.

First of all, the simple act of wondering if you’re a narcissist would indicate that you are not. Narcissists do not know nor are they willing to admit that they are narcissists and they don’t care, they just want what they want. Secondly, they are experts at projection (the act of blaming someone else for what they are doing or attempting to do).

While interacting with a narcissist, many times one will notice that any time the narcissist receives criticism, they shut down the conversation; also anytime there is a questioning of truth. These shutdowns are often followed, not always immediately, by some sort of retaliation. – WebMD

This is why debating a narcissist is a fool’s errand. You can’t make progress, as the narcissist is not following a rational model and does not care what is true. This characteristic overlaps very strongly with salespeople. Salespeople also normally don’t care what is true. They care how that item in question can benefit them.

The narcissistic personality knows what they want, and so they bend argumentation to be what they want. I found this first hand while discussing our personal issues with a narcissist. She continually made contradictory statements when making an argument, and she did not appear to listen when I made observations about these contradictory points. A sales narcissist will take any point you make and deflect from it, and invalidate it, regardless of its validity.

I also communicated to a narcissistic salesperson that they were communicating very poorly and confusingly with me, and I was met with how I communicated in too blunt of a manner. However, this salesperson was lying about not seeing messages and was communicating like a bot when she did the message. I pointed these two things out, and then said I would wait for her to contact me, rather than me contacting her, and the salesperson ended up taking offense.

This is another major part of narcissistic personality — they have extremely thin skin. After reviewing our discussion I concluded that this salesperson was not debating in good faith, and they were simply gaslighting me.

Narcissistic Sales

The outcome of narcissistic sales.

They have many facets that make them perfect for the job as individuals.

• Con artists to the core

• Extremely competitive

• Not constrained by the truth

• Upbeat, confident and charming personalities

• Ruthless etc.

But they also pose many problems as employees and members of a team.

• The lie – so what starts as a great sale can easily end as a customer complaint.

• They are not team players and their competitive streak can backfire as they put their own ambitions over the goals of the team.

• They are insanely jealous – and so will undermine and sink their competitors – which in a sales team environment they will consider to be their colleagues.

• They do take responsibility for their actions nor will they be held accountable.

So don’t be surprised to find a stellar salesperson surrounded by a disgruntled team and bunch of peeved customers. – Quora

How Narcissism is Increasing

2010 study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science found that the percentage of college students exhibiting narcissistic personality traits, based on their scores on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, a widely used diagnostic test, has increased by more than half since the early 1980s, to 30 percent. – New York Times


Narcissists and sociopaths are to be avoided. You can’t win with either of these personality types. The fact that such a high percentage of sales reps fall into one of these two categories is why it is best to avoid salespeople or minimize one’s contact with them.

I have worked with salespeople as I worked as a presales engineer, and a number of them have been very nice to me when we were working together. A salesperson cannot sell software without a sales engineer. However, on several occasions when the relationship continued outside of work, I found narcissistic traits, and the mask coming off, which made me question how much of what they communicated before was entirely their mask.

In the software area, I recommend limiting the time exposed to the sales rep, in order to minimize exposure to the narcissist or sociopath. Salespeople don’t offer product knowledge, and primarily offer either manipulation or access to other people in the vendor that do have the product knowledge. Salespeople try to make themselves the conduit, but they are not very useful until you get to the purchasing stage, as you have to go through the salesperson to complete the purchase.

However, the salesperson can still be treated as a passive order taker. Salespeople make it sound as if there is an approved process that the software buyer has to go through but in reality, that is up to the buyer, and the only thing allowing the salesperson to dictate the process results in is the salesperson controlling the process. Furthermore, if you don’t like a sales rep, you can switch them out. The only thing the company cares about is making the sale, so one should not continue to work through a sales rep if one is uncomfortable with them. I have seen some very large companies think they have to continue using an inexperienced rep or a rep who has been caught in multiple lies.

It never makes any sense to develop a relationship with a salesperson as they are either a narcissist or sociopath and is a pathway to manipulation.