Knowing your customer’s personality type and adapting your pitch

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The Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is a solid adage. But it’s not applicable in every situation, mostly because not everyone wants to be treated the same.

“The Golden rule can backfire in interpersonal communications, because that person may not want to be treated the same way you do,” says Dr. Tony Alessandra, CEO of Assessments 24×7, who spoke at the opening session of Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW) in Las Vegas Tuesday.

Alessandra says its easier to tune in to how a person really feels if you’ll hear what they say, but watch for how they say it.

“People won’t tell you how to treat them,” he says. “They don’t verbalize it, but they’ll show you.”

Alessandra says to listen closely at how people say things and watch their body actions, adding every speaker delivers their message on three channels: verbal, vocal and visual.

“Little things can change what you hear and how you interpret what you hear,” he says.

Basically you’re listening for two things; is the person coming across as more open or guarded?

“Guarded people do not share their feelings,” he says. “Guarded people have that poker face. When they visit with you, they want to get right down to business. They make decisions based primarily on facts, figures, numbers …”

“Open people,” he adds, “readily, willingly, show and share their thoughts whether you want them to or not. They want to develop the relationship before getting down to business. They get physically closer, they’re huggers, they make decisions based primarily on emotions and gut feel.”

Your success in how you sell to these types of customers will depend on whether or not you can adapt and engage them in their comfort zone.

“Behavior is easy to change,”Alessandra says. “That is natural. It’s called adaptability. Adaptability can be crucial.”

Once you’ve determined if your customer is open or guarded, it’s also key to determine if they’re an indirect versus direct person.

“When it comes to risks, decisions and change, indirect people approach all three more cautiously because their inner need is to not to be wrong,” Alessandra says. “Direct people approach all three quickly because their inner driving need is to accomplish as much as possible quickly.”

Complicating the sales process is that these personality types are so wildly different that these people often get frustrated with one another, making adaptability even more important.

Alessandra breaks personality types into four basic categories: the Ds, the Is, the Ss and the Cs.

Ds, Alessandra says, are masterful delegators who work best under pressure.

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing,” he says. “Rarely, if ever, will you see a D playing a game for fun.”

A Ds natural weakness is that of the four styles, they are the worst listeners.

“They don’t have time, and they already know the answer,” he says.

As a customer, a D wants to see the bottom line and solutions that will save them time and money.

“Keep the relationship businesslike, focus on the big picture, discover their goals and give them two to three options with a risk analysis,” Alessandra adds.

The Is are very creative and great brain stormers. The Is problem area is they start a lot, but don’t finish everything they start.

They are optimistic, inspirational, creative and impulsive, but Alessandra says they struggle with formal reports and keeping detailed records.

As customers, they are spontaneous and often see benefits that aren’t even pointed out.

“Show more animation, and be quick to praise them in front of people important to them,” he says. “Save them from the paperwork. Suggest you do that for them.”

The key desires of an S is harmony, safety and security.

“They are the true people’s people,” he says. “They are the glue that holds a team or relationship together.”

The are by far the best listeners, Alessandra says, adding they listen for content and intent. Their weakness is they often go along with things they don’t believe in just so they don’t rock the boat.

They do not like competition, “because somebody has to lose,” he adds.

As customers, they like relationships based on trust. They tend to make decisions collaboratively. They are turned off by aggressive, pushy salespeople.

“Develop the relationship before you develop the sale,” he says. “Use a pleasant, patient approach and even in the voice. Show them that whatever changes you’re proposing they make will benefit them and the others affected by it.”

The Cs desire order, accuracy and precision and of all four styles, they are arguably, the most intellectual, Alessandra says.

“If you want something done right, give it to a C,” he says, “but if you want it done on time, think a again.”

Cs do not like unpredictability and prefer to work alone.

As customers, they like to sleep on it. They want time and data, and they want you to be an expert on all things. They don’t like enthusiasm from a sales person.

“Avoid too much social talk,” he says. “Get right down to business. Provide written documentation and give them time and space to think.”

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