The key to good observation and listening skills is to build a better picture of how the seller or buyer is likely to react. You want to anticipate reactions so that you can solve problems before they become an issue.
To build this picture, it is helpful to use a model to describe general personality types. Although all individuals are unique, most can be generally characterized by one of four personality types:
● Analytical ● Driver
● Amiable ● Expressive
There are certain traits and styles of action which each of these personality types displays. By understanding what these characteristics are, and how to deal with them, the selling process becomes much easier.
To determine the personality type of the individual you are selling to, you must stop talking and start observing. This process of categorizing developed by psychologists weighs two particular components of an individual's personality. First, how much do they assert themselves: are they very assertive and demanding, or are they quiet and a bit timid Second, how much emotion do they put into their actions and decisions: are they cool and logical, showing no emotion, or are they a passionate individual who makes judgments from the "heart".
These two personality components are represented by two axis of the following chart (click here). By evaluating someone on these two scales, we can determine which personality type they fall into. The horizontal axis on The Psychology of Sales (this concept is explored in further detail in Non Manipulative Selling by Alessandra, Wexler, and Dean ©1981) chart shows how much a person asserts himself. To the left: not terribly assertive. To the right: extremely assertive. The vertical axis shows how much someone allows emotions to intrude on decision making. To the bottom: very emotion based. Toward the top: very logical, not much emotion. For example, an individual who is on the non-assertive side of the scale, and is on the non-emotional, logical half of the emotive scale, would be classified as an analytic personality. Engineers, accountants, and technical experts tend to be this type of individual.
As you scan each personality type, try to envision people you know who fall into each category. Which group of characteristics best describes your personality? Are you less assertive and passive in nature like the Analytical and Amiable personalities? Are you aggressive like the Driver and the Expressive? Do you base most of your decisions in life on logic like the Analytical and the Driver personalities? Or does emotion guide your decisions like an Amiable or Expressive? What is most important to you—facts and documentation like the Analytical?
Or are you task oriented like the Driver? Are relationships, and a sense of belonging, most important as with the Amiable? Or are your dreams and ideals your driving force as with the expressive?
If you have difficulty deciding, note that the opposite diagonal quadrants are natural opposites and often have difficulty working with each other.
Remember, no one type is either more or less successful. The personality type merely indicates how someone responds to problems, to other personalities, and to stress. Overlaying each type is a flexibility factor. A very flexible Driver can still work quite well with Amiable. The key is who adapts best. Why is understanding these personality types important? If we correctly judge someone's personality type, we can adapt our selling style to fit with their decision making style. If you don't adjust for each individual, you will find that a selling approach that worked well with your last client is a disaster with your present one. While each person fits into a category, how these people react under stress (like buying or selling a business) is also important.
By adjusting to the personality style of your client or prospect, you can do a much better job of effectively communicating with them, and understanding that an abjection they raise may have less to do either the matter under discussion than with the style it was presented in.