The easiest way to sell someone is not figuring out what they want but how they want it. Whether a customer or a boss, learn to distinguish the 8 different types of clients and start closing immediately.
By Kenyon Boltz
In the tumultuous art of salesmanship, there are hundreds of books, lectures, and self-actualization techniques occupying this vast realm. Many claim the “secret to success” lies bundled in this book versus the other contender boasting cliché allegories; fundamentals hidden beneath numerous pontificating chapters and exercises.
Speaking from an extensive background of 10 years in the “front-lines” for international companies and production events, I have purchased my fair share of these guides, ever so much in wide-eyed excitement for the golden goose, the panacea to all objections and glorious accolades from clients and the boss. However, there are few new approaches that can promise or guarantee. It is the basics: attitude, passion, drive, and knowledge.
I gather this reference list from years of experiences, numerous workshops, and colleague bantering improving upon the lengthy process of developing new clients and maintaining loyalty for increased sales goals. The current economic climate requires savvy awareness, increased determination, and perseverance.
Here is a list of eight types of clients/customers and advice in handling these personality types to adapt your pitch, thus increasing sales, office accolades, and getting your time to the top of the board. Please keep the context of information relative to your individual situation.
The Strong Need for Domination
Upon first interaction, either from new prospect or from a new lead, their trait is apparent: they are abrasive and defiant. The discussion is monopolized leaving small amount of time to inform or to overcome objections. Information is rapid from their impatience, tends to reaffirm their need of urgency, and interrupts when one introduces alternative perspectives. This situation can be frustrating; however, because of their desire to be dominant, you can use this to your advantage.
Solution: Prepare your meetings/conversations with extra information supporting a point allowing you to stay in control. By asking more open-ended questions you will keep the person talking and providing you with more information to the problem you need to solve.
Avoid the confrontation: this will ultimately, if not indefinitely, end in no gain and lost potential. Depending on the context, an ally within the company, such as partner, secretary, or other team member, may be ways to have your alternative perspectives reach this person on their own terms.
The Strong Need for Security
They are predominately silent, saying little to help you find the correct direction to their problem. Their attention may drift, leading to defensive responses. The reluctance to make decisions stems from their dislike in taking risks. Maintaining the status quo is their shield creating an uphill battle from the start. But, once reached within their terms, this type tends to be loyal and reliable: a worthy reward for any salesperson.
Solution: Make a consistent effort with frequent progress checks evaluating their temperament. If the need is not there immediately, the follow-ups prove to be a gradual reassurance from taking a risk.
Once an opportunity presents itself, provide a good, reliable track record from the product or service. Do not over-talk, listen patiently; you do not want to interrupt. A small amount of silence may allow the person to contemplate, allowing a perfect time for you to provide an ample amount of testimonials from current clients.
The Strong Need for Popularity
An overall enjoyable type from their desire to be liked. They are friendly, tend to agree quickly with your points, and avoid disagreeing with your data, leading you down a path of a “slam-dunk.” But, the distraction of their personality may lead away from ever making the decision to move forward. In some cases, they may keep you as a back-up only wasting your time since there is a perception they will close the deal.
Solution: Adapt your presentation to closed-ended questions in order to keep the prospect from talking off track. Find out more of their current situation: if you discover they have no real problem, they may just be talking. If they are a part of the decision process, use them as supporters for your proposal. Nothing would be better than to have an ally inside the meeting room when closing the deal.
The Strong Need for Self-Realization
This is a category that I find to be slow and long in the sales process. They are pragmatic and flexible in their time for you. Primarily solution-minded, they are self-assured by their experiences but not arrogant. Candid and open at times, they believe in risks only if the return is worth it. Demanding in differing opinions for constructive advice and solutions to hypothetical situations, they like to test a salesperson’s beliefs in the product or service.
Solution – Utilize the available time in narrowing their experiences to the solutions and the results. Since pragmatic by nature, objective data is necessary in accomplishing the sale.
Vague statistics and over-promising may be the demise to this potential prospect. Because they are candid with their own experiences, encourage questions relating to the pitch, either from an angle of what the pitch is not clarifying or from the perspective of what is leading them from their current supplier.
The Strong, Silent Type
Different from the security-driven type, they force the salesperson to do all the work. The entire “dog-and-pony show” does not sit well; they are neck deep in their own duties than to be concerned either with a proposal or information toward a solution. Uncooperative in answering questions, even closed-ended, they are a challenge to the salesperson and the salesperson’s assertions.
Solution: The significant key is being completely prepared not to waste the customer’s time. Understanding they would rather be doing something else, keep your pitch as short as possible without losing any of the important points to their needs.
Since they tend to ask or to answer little questions, be clear-minded to your objective. A good direction can be to draw the customer into a dialogue of conversation from their experiences relating to the product. Time is critical to them so if the product or service can save time or workload, use this.
The “I Can Get It Cheaper Somewhere Else” Type
This is self explanatory: always insisting they know somewhere else it is cheaper or they have a current supplier that provides a discount.
Solution: Early in my experiences, I usually shuffled this type deeper in my pipeline, but I began to understand that I already knew exactly how to proceed: let the product and objective data speak for itself.
Get information before you start into your product or pitch, especially the price they believe, or can get it at. This is a classic “pay for what you get.” The more information they can provide can lead you to research on the competitor. Display the true value they are getting with their current supplier versus the benefits from your prospective item.
Their current supplier might be cheaper, but calculate how much they lose if their orders are incorrect, late, or have no customer support, for example.
The I’m Everyone’s Friend, Salesman Type
Similar to the popular type in constantly drawing you off track with their sheer humor and off-beat casualness, you fail and fall into their trap. Their main difference is the clever way they get you to drop your defenses into providing lower pricing or additional service than you would originally have offered to a prospective client. Consider it ironic: you were sold when you were supposed to sell. And you lose out on your incentive for the sale.
Solution: Stick to business. The casual banter is always welcome; however, keep in mind what you are trying to do and what they are trying to do. Because of their nature, the innate ability to barter price with promises of future orders, insist on talking about the products and keeping the person involved by asking your own questions without getting off track.
Remember, business is a two-way transaction.
The Real Tough Buyer
The true competition for all salespeople. They make you work for their business, period. They are knowledgeable, discuss intelligently point for point your competition, and breakdown your product with a pros-and-cons formula.
Solution: Their drive for a hard bargain can cut into your pricing range but they are fair and logical in your efforts.
Being honest with the bargain and the follow-through is huge to them. Your personal attention is critical to their decision-making process. Never over-promise. The more you know about your product to combat his information on your competitor’s, the better you will close.
Always remember, salesmanship is an art. There is only so much that can be taught. The resilient attitude, the unflinching confidence, and the intuition to your prospect’s needs are the fundamentals and should never be forgotten. Take a moment to think about some of your current clients or prospects and decide if they do personify these traits. The next time you call could be your next close.