Selling is a people-oriented business that inevitably requires a constant interaction between sales people and a broad array of individuals who vary in their personality types, nature and character.
Every individual customer you would encounter is unique, and your failure to understand personality types will make you project your own personality on them, invariably leading to some not-so-favourable reactions to all your sales overtures.
The fundamental thing about sales is that whatever personality you are enables you connect more easily with others who have the same personality as you; and conversely, there are certain personality types you would naturally have great difficulty connecting with. Unlike in normal relationships, there are hardly any personality conflicts in sales, and customers generally have greater trust and are more likely to buy from people who are or come across as similar to themselves.
There are several different personality tests that place people in various personality categories; and with specific attributes, that are unique to these categories. While these personality tests may vary in terminologies and typology, their dissimilarities are more nomenclatural than substantial. One of the most widely used models for assessing personalities is the DiSC personality model which is based on the work of psychologist William M. Marston in his book, ‘Emotions of Normal People’, published in 1928. DiSC is an acronym for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance, and it basically explores people’s priorities and how those priorities influence their behaviours in a variety of contexts.
It matters for selling, it is critically relevant for intra-organisational cohesion, and ensures the productive and efficient interplay of the various arms of a business. Employers seek to understand these personalities in determining how a prospective employee would properly fit into the organisation’s culture.
Each personality type would naturally respond differently to various marketing stimuli and sales presentation styles. It is therefore imperative that sales people quickly understand the personality type they are dealing with, and on that basis, determine the best possible way to sell to them.
You need to understand the nuances of these personality types and then be able to present your solutions in a manner that best resonates with the individual. As a sales person you are more likely to get the attention and sustained interest of your prospect if your communication resonates with their most dominant trait because they, then, feel a high level of congruence between you and them.
The dominant personality typically exudes a lot of power and control. They are quick, short-to-the-point, have no need for validation and couldn’t care much for details. They are often stand-offish and may come across as rude, impatient or even arrogant. Other distinguishing attributes of the dominant personality would include being aggressive, speaking faster and in a higher pitch, lacking interest in building rapport, and the use of few words.
A dominant personality expects that you match their energy level and might perceive weakness if you easily get flustered by their apparent overbearingness. They expect very succinct, clear and unequivocal presentation on the subject matter as they tend to want to make decisions quickly. In dealing with the dominant personality, sales people need not engage in unwarranted approbation, and only seek to build rapport cautiously. Most archetypal entrepreneurs, CEOs and Corporate tend to possess the dominant personality.
Influencer personalities are high energy people who are very sociable and have a great need for validation. They are typically funny people who love to have fun and build relationships. They tend to be impulsive, somewhat unorganised, love to build rapport and might easily get bored with details. Influencer personalities are often excited to meet new people and would immediately want to get conversational with you, perhaps, on some matter of social interest or mutual amusement before getting to your actual subject matter.
They buy purely based on the relationship they have with you. In dealing influencer personalities, focus on initiating and building a friendship and a relationship based on mutual interests. Have conversations on pertinent matters of mutual concern and demonstrate your care for things that are important to them in word and in deed. Given their need for validation, a rush to get them to buy conveys the notion of a hard-core sales person who has zero interest in their welfare and has sole aim of merely selling to them by any means necessary.
Steady customers are typically agreeable people who desire peace and tranquillity. They are generally calm, laid back, easy going and friendly. They are similar to influencer personalities in many respects but are low energy unlike the influencers. They tend to be great listeners and wouldn’t tire listening to you speak.
They have deep appreciation for structures and rules, and might want a reflection of that in the people they deal with. They are passively resistant and could acquiesce easily if you demonstrate a clear plan or offer a plausible narrative of what you are selling them on. In dealing with steady customers, it is important to be reasonably detailed, offer evidence of how what you are selling to them has worked for other people or in other contexts, and allow them to decide preferably at their own pace.
The Compliant personality is your quintessential perfectionist. They are very detail-oriented, analytical and cautious. They may come across as introverted, snobbish and sometimes socially awkward. They have a keen interest in just knowing the facts and to be left alone to make their own decisions.
They have very little interest in building rapport and simply want to understand the intricacies of the product or service you are selling them. In dealing with the compliant personality, you aim to offer copious amounts of factual information about your product or service, and then allow them to decide based on the facts available to them. Additionally, always seek clarity on whether or not you have satisfactorily addressed all their concerns and offer to explain further or provide more information if they require that you do so. For a compliant person, a lack of what they consider as the full facts diminishes their trust and makes them more disinclined to do any business with you at all.
Most people possess a combination of at least two of these personality types, with one being the primary or the most dominant while the other is secondary or latent. In the course of relating with your customer or prospect, the personality they manifest may evolve and it is prudent to vary your approach in tandem with the attributes they manifest at each step of your relationship.
You should ensure to match their pace, body language and tonality, and be certain not to be out sync with their momentum or act in a manner that disturbs their personal harmony. Further, some customers also transition overtime as they get more familiar with the sales person.
A dominant personality type may, for instance, become lax and a little more relational in their dealings with you while a compliant may at some point not require as much information or be as probing as they were earlier primarily because of the trust they would have built with you over a period.
Sales people ought to, therefore, avoid the tendency of viewing the world through the lenses of their own personalities, ensure to engage customers on the basis of their knowledge of these customers’ personality types, and offer solutions that would be resonant, responsive, useful and beneficial.
The writer is a Marketing Strategist and lecturer
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