HR professionals have long recognised the value of personality profiling. It's a highly effective tool for recruitment, management and retention of staff. But how can a little knowledge of personality types assist you in a sales environment where even slight changes to your approach can greatly influence your ability to win new business?
In 1928 William Marston published findings from his research into people's emotions and behaviour in a book entitled "Emotions of Normal People". In this he identified four different personality types as follows:
Dominance (D). People with a high dominance factor are typically highly entrepreneurial, fast paced, very driven individuals who are extremely competitive, assertive, direct and can be quite forceful. They're driven by power, authority and the achievement of results. Their basic fear is one of failure. Their preferred style of communication is telling. Managing directors and serial entrepreneurs will often be high Ds.
Influence (I). Those with a high influence factor are very outgoing and gregarious, enthusiastic and fast paced. They're risk takers, may have dramatic opinions and are highly communicative, persuasive, people-orientated individuals. Their main motivators are public praise and recognition and they fear rejection. They have a talkative communication style. Those in sales and marketing, training and hospitality will often be high Is.
Steady (S). People with a high steadiness factor are very methodical and thorough in their approach. They operate at a slower pace, are great listeners, highly supportive, methodical and dependable but are risk averse. They're motivated by security and fear loss of stability and change. Their communication style is one of listening. Teachers, HR managers and those involved in administration and support services will often be high Ss.
Compliance (C). Those with a high compliance factor are very systematic and logical in their approach. They possess a high degree of accuracy and are very facts and data-orientated. They operate at a conservative pace and are very comfortable with problem solving. They're motivated by operating procedures and fear conflict. They prefer to communicate in writing. Accountants, auditors, health and safety professionals and those involved in research and development will typically be high Cs.
So how can this information be used to help you as you engage with a prospect, build rapport and hopefully secure their business? By observing their workplace environment and communication style both face to face and written you can start to recognise the above behaviours and personality types. The secret is then to mirror these in the way you respond back during the sales process. But how does this work in reality?
With high dominance individuals all communication should be very direct and straight to the point. They'll not want to spend too much time on "small talk" at the start of meetings. These should be fast paced, shortish in length and with a clear agenda. Sales presentations should be concise and clearly state the benefits to the decision maker including the expected return on investment. High Ds want to see quick wins and immediate results.
With high influence individuals it's very important that you spend time getting to know them as an individual. They'll be equally keen to learn more about you. The time spent rapport building face to face at the start of the meeting will be much greater with a high I than a high D. Ask questions about their background, how they came to be working for their current company and what their interests are. Try looking at their social media accounts before you meet to see if there's any areas of common interest that you could talk about during the conversation. Suggest meeting away from the office, over a coffee or lunch, as this will positively affect the impression you make. High Is are concerned with the impact their decisions have on people so your sales presentation should clearly state the benefits to be had on their colleagues in using your products or services.
High steadiness individuals are concerned about how other people feel and the impact decisions made by them will have on these people. They can take their time reaching a decision and may defer to colleagues before coming to a conclusion. If you believe that the person you're talking to is a high S, try to ascertain their involvement in the decision making process and ask if anyone else needs to be present in any meetings you arrange. Providing "social proof" in your presentations and proposals is equally important. Case studies, testimonials and references give the high S reassurance that they're making the right decision.
High compliance individuals are concerned with the detail. Your presentations and proposals should contain plenty of detail on how your product or service works, what after sales service is provided e.g. maintenance contracts included, what accreditations you have, how you plan to deliver the service and account manage the customer going forward. Providing free white papers and research documents early in the sales process can help garner more interest in you as a supplier. High Cs do not naturally make decisions quickly preferring to have all the information to hand first. You may be able to accelerate the process by providing a competitor analysis saving the high C valuable time doing research.
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