The Ultimate Opportunity

My sales manager would constantly tell me, “I don’t care what you sell in life, you’ve got to take the time to find common ground right from the start.”
It may be that you’ve got kids and your customers have kids, or you’ve lived in the Midwest, and they’ve lived in the Midwest, or you were in the military and they were in the military. I don’t care what it is or how small it is … if you’re going to be successful in selling; you’ve got to find common ground with your customers.
As you are building rapport and finding out more about the customer, you will begin to identify different behavioral traits. Some customers will be highly responsive; others will be less responsive. Some will mix with these two traits a high or low assertiveness. You’ve got to recognize where the customer is coming from and adapt to his style.
In this issue, we’re going to take a look at three different behavioral styles that I’ve recognized over the years I’ve been selling. These behaviors will help you gauge your customers’ attitudes and needs, which, in the end can help you trigger their desire to buy.
Face it, customers come with all different personalities, attitudes, desires, needs, and beliefs. No matter if they are rough, talkative, or overly analytical, there are successful ways to approach them and present them with the product they want — in the manner that they want it.
The Driver Behavioral Style:
When I first started my management consulting business I had an appointment with a prospective client who was a dealer.
I arrived on time and was shown into his office by his secretary. I approached his huge, oversized desk and said, “Good morning.”
He immediately barked, “Cut the small talk.” I then sat down and said, “Are you having a bad day?” He responded, “Terrible.” So I said, “Well, it’s straight up from here.”
“Listen bud, I hate cliches,” he snarled.
Now, analyze this for a moment. What if the next thing out of my mouth was “How are the wife and kids?” He would probably have physically carried me out. Instead, I responded by sitting down on the edge of the chair and getting down to business. I was clear, concise, and to-the-point. I made an effort to form conclusions that related to his needs.
When I finished, he sat back in his chair and was silent. The seconds ticked like hours. Because I was finished with my presentation, I knew I had to sit there and wait it out.
Finally, he said, “Ever do any sailing?”
Who does this guy think he is? I jokingly started to say, “Cut the small talk,” but I knew better. I was delighted to see he was responding. He knew I had identified and adapted to his personality or behavioral style. I had won his respect … now we could be friends.
How does this apply to selling marine products? If you get a customer who is abrupt, rough, and tough … get to the point. Tell him specifically what’s in it for him.
The Expressive Behavioral Style:
As a consultant I called on a bank to present a sales training program for its account managers. When I walked into the bank president’s office for the first time, I noticed some interesting things.
As we met I could tell by his dress, posture, eye contact, and handshake that he wanted to control the situation … and me.
After making my presentation he replied, “I like your sales training program. In fact, I’ve designed a lot of training programs myself. One of my programs trains our account managers in selling and marketing techniques. Because of me it’s been a huge success and, quite frankly, I wouldn’t want to screw things up with your program.”
Notice anything telling in his personality?
If you were me, what would you really have liked to tell this guy? I knew there were two options: I could either feed my ego or feed my family. Instead of telling him off and letting him know what I really thought, I decided to feed my family.
“It’s refreshing finding someone as knowledgeable as you in designing training programs,” I responded. “This gives you an excellent advantage to advise me with my program. Besides your account managers, where would my training program fit in?”
He sat back and finally said, “In my expert opinion, where I see your sales training program fitting in best is with our tellers. They see more of the public than anyone in our bank. They would be just perfect for your program.”
Here is a win-win situation. If you have a customer who has a large ego, you should feed that ego. Without sounding insincere, you must make him feel important by complimenting him. Many times you can recognize this type by the questions they ask. They seem to ask questions to which they already have answers.
By letting them do the talking, especially when they have someone along, they will feel important. The better they feel around you, the more successful you will be.
The Analytical Behavioral Style:
This final type is not necessarily a nerd. However, sometimes you can pick them out from across the lot. They wear tweedy coats with patches on the elbows. The analyticals have mechanical pencils with a plastic pocket protector. What do they smoke? A pipe. And they’re always carrying vehicle magazines, brochures, consumer guides, etc.
This may be exaggerated. However, it is true that the analyticals want facts and lots of data. They hate generalizations. If they ask you a question it’s a disaster to respond, “I don’t know.”
Whether you know all the answers to their questions or not, always show them the answers you do know on a product brochure or specification sheet. The more you can back up your words and your information with factual, documented evidence, the better off you’ll be in the long run.
One of the greatest qualities a salesperson can have is adaptability. No matter what behavioral style the customer has, you must identify it and react accordingly. In other words, you must “do unto others as they want to be done unto.”

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