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Hands and Business

By Richard Unger

One business application of hand analysis of particular interest to me is in assisting the management of a sales organization to better understand and communicate with its sales force. In this two-part article we will look at some of the things you can tell about salespeople from their hands.

There is no one section of the hand, or one line in the palm, that will tell us whether a sales person will be successful. But there are ways to determine a salespersonts strengths and weaknesses, what motivates them, how they respond to pressure, and what management style is most likely to increase their sales. Through hand analysis we can also see how they handle time, their degree of assertiveness, organizational skills and many other things of great interest to any sales manager, or any salesperson him/herself.

Let's start by examining the fingers. Each of the four fingers can be used to represent a different stage in the sales process. Whichever finger is built best, that corresponding aspect of the sales process is the salesperson's strength, and conversely, fingers built poorly (bent, twisted, crooked, poorly placed, unbalanced, etc.) represent zones of difficulty. The chart below summarizes the roles of the different fingers.

Dominant Finger

Stage of the Sales Process

Potential Strengths

Potential Weakness

Under Stress



The Idea

Communications skill, quick thinking

Talks too much


Being Heard


The Approach

People skills

Fear of rejection

Becomes defensive



The Close

Self confidence

Overdoing it

Becomes hostile




Follows procedure

Socially awkward

Feels guilty


Most of the salespeople I have met have long Mercury fingers Quick, sharp, and clever, these sales people are able to think on their feet and communicate their ideas clearly. When the finger is long and straight, they are able to inspire trust (all other factors in the hand being equal). The stage of the sales process in which they excell is being able to see the fit between the service/product they represent and the need and ability to pay of the potential buyer. Strong Mercurians are also adept at spotting buying signs and objections long before they have become obvious. They see the sales process as a game of skill, and they use their strategy and silver tongue to yin the game. A big challenge for these types is learning when to be quiet during the sales process. And paradoxically, when under stress, they tend to withdraw. As a sales manager, if you can get them to talk about their problem, this will usually help them to feel and perform better.

Check the dominant phalange on the Mercury finger. Lower phalange sales people (those whose lower phalange is clearly the largest of the three phalanges) take a more physical approach to selling. ("Smell that new car smell, feel the upholstery, let's put it in gear and see what it can do.") Middle phalange Mercurians use a more practical approach (they show graphs of the miles per gallon), and upper phalange Mercurians sell the concept, not the product ("I can see you now, top down, hair in the breeze.")

If you are the manager of a sales force, which type do you want? Can you assist each type in the form of sales most comfortable to him/her? Are you loading down a lower phalange salesperson with graphs and sales meetings?

Check the fingertip. Square-tipped Mercurians have excellent business sense (managers please note: with a wide thumb and headline separated from the life line, these hands may be your competition next year); pointy tipped Mercurians are highly intuitive; and spatulate tipped Mercurians are insatiably curious.

Whereas Mercury gets the idea for the sale and is eager to communicate, nothing can happen without "the approach", and now we are in the realm of Apollo. Since Apollo deals with personal display and social skills, those with strong Apollo fingers are more apt to successfully convert strangers into prospects. The ability to make contact, make a good impression and create interest are the strong suits of those with dominant Apollo fingers.

Since Apollonians tend to take things personally, it is in management's interest to assist them in dealing with the inevitable no's associated with sales. I know a sales manager who had his staff keep an appreciation notebook filled with thank you letters, newspaper clippings, and company achievements. When a salesperson was facing a week of constant rebuffs, the manager would visit and they would read through the notebook together. Apollonians work best in an atmosphere of abundant positive feedback, and appreciate the type of boss who is in close personal contact. Once again, a check of the phalange proportions, finger tips, etc. will yield even more information about your Apollonian salesperson.

Once in the sales presentation, a salesperson needs a good Jupiter finger to close the sale. In my experience, the most successful sales people were those who combined either Mercury or Apollo skills with a powerful "trigger finger". In a majority of the cases where the salesperson was an under-achiever, the problem was not their ability to meet people or communicate effectively, but in their ability to close the sale. I have met a few successful sales people with weak trigger fingers, but these were the exception. As salespeople, Jupiterians are powerful, direct, action oriented and self motivated. They need a lot of leeway and do not respond well to hovering sales managers. They expect a lot out of themselves and face the challenge of not overdoing it.

The middle phalange of the Jupiter finger is a key phalange in sales success. Dealing as it does with our achievement orientation, status, definition of success, etc., this phalange holds a prominent place in any inspection of a salesperson's hands. Those with a weak middle phalange on Jupiter are not money motivated and tend to be unclear about their goals. They take pride in not being part of the status/awards system; they deliberately refuse promotions. If you can find another motivational button and are willing to put up with their erratic sales performance, then perhaps you can co-exist with these people on your sales staff. They may be highly successful, but will never be part of the system.

Now it's time for the paperwork, follow-up, thank you letters, referrals, etc. Now it's time for Saturn. In my experience, most successful salespeople have enough of a middle finger (straight, balanced, but not too long) to handle Saturn effectively, but not so much as to be the dominant finger. Saturnians are detail oriented, security motivated, prudent and procedural. They work best in a controlled environment with a tight job description. They make good home office administrators, but their inclination towards solitude usually keeps them out of the sales force.

There is much more that can be gleaned from the fingers alone. This overview merely points out some of the most obvious factors that those in sales and management can learn from a hand analysis.

In the next issue of the Hand Analysis Journal, we will look at more hand topology and the lines as they relate to sales performance.