Looking for the Tells
Generally, you can identify a buyer’s root personality style through two key behaviors:
- How direct the person is (that is, talkative, challenging the information you deliver, making emphatic statements, speaking at a high volume and speed)
- And how open the person is (that is, animated, using their hands expressively, leaning toward stories and anecdotes rather than facts and statistics, sharing their feelings open)
Based on these behaviors, you can determine the type of buyer you have:
- Analytical: Guarded and Indirect: Craves a lot of detailed information, makes decisions with caution and time, works carefully and slowly, needs to be right
- Drivers: Guarded and Direct: Craves control, works independently and quickly, likes action and decisiveness
- Amiable: Open and Indirect: Seeks close relationships, avoids confrontation, makes decision very slowly, seeks friendly, understanding dialogue
- Expressive: Open and Direct: Acts spontaneously, makes fast decisions, exaggerates and generalizes, jumps between subjects, works quickly and enthusiastically
Shifting Your Game Based on the Tells
When faced with these root personalities in your buyer, you should be able to identify the buyer’s “buying context” – that is, the expectations they bring to the sales situation, and leverage that insight to win each phase of the deal cycle on your terms, and close the deal successfully.
Here’s some tips on adapting your sales campaign based on the “tells” your buyer gives you.
Adapting to the Analytical buyer: Often considered the hardest type to sell to, these buyers expect and require a lengthy sales cycle, including technical deep dives in the solution, time for research, and time for deciding. Removing the risk in the sale is also critical to closing, from trials to warranties to “out” clauses. Be prepared to deliver the facts with precision and detail, stress the business case and ROI of the investment, respond to multiple inquires (and not necessarily in person – so keep good documents), and then give the buyer room – and time – to decide.
Adapting to the Driver buyer: The good news is these buyers make decisions quickly, and require much shorter sales cycles. However, drivers crave control, speed, and surety. Be prepared to deliver relevant, precise, and short presentations, with confidence. And to stick to the business at hand. Often the vendor and solution with the quickest, demonstrated results will win with Drivers.
Adapting to the Amiable buyer: These buyers expect to build a rapport with you, including building a friendship with you prior to buying, trusting you are making the right recommendation for them, and introducing you to multiple stakeholders to help build a consensus of decision. Be prepared to deliver a low-pressure sales approach, focus on the relationship and not the sales presentations, and help direct the buyer to the best choice.
Adapting to the Expressive buyer: These buyers are impulse buyers! The bad news is Expressives often make decisions based on first impressions. This can result in an easy sell, or a sale you lose without really understanding what happened. With these buyers, you need to paint a vision and sell the big picture. Be prepared to deliver with emotion and keep your presentations exciting. Always remember: You are on the stage.
While many buyers will illustrate tendencies to more than one personality styles, generally speaking you will observe dominant behaviors in the first couple of interactions that let you tie back the buyer to his or her buying context. You should then use this insight to adapt your selling style — see our last post — to this situation to maximize your chances of success.
Of course, if you encounter a buyer who shares your personality style, then be yourself!
What selling style are you? Take our free Sales Selector assessment test and find out.
Let me know your thoughts. Leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[i] Based on research conducted by Callidus’ Salesforce Assessments. This subject has been extensively researched through the ages starting from Hippocrates who first identified the four prominent personality styles in the fifth century B.C. These personality styles are broadly consistent with the styles identified by prominent 20th century researchers, including Merrill & Reid, William Marston, and Carl Jung.