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Sales Leadership
Aligning Your Pitch to Your Customer’s Personality Style
Aug 15, 2017 | Canadian Professional Sales Association lock

Scripted, one-size-fits-all sales pitches are widely accepted as ineffective and outdated. As a sales professional, you are certainly aware that you should be creating a custom pitch for every customer that is based on their unique needs, wants, and personality style.  However, while the first two can be fairly easily achieved through some prospect research and discovery questions, the third is a far more complicated beast. How exactly do you effectively align your pitch to your customer’s personality?

In their seminal book, “Personal Styles & Effective Performance” (CRC Press; 1 edition, Jan. 15 1981), David Merrill and Roger Reid outlined four personal styles which can be used as broad stereotypes to take into consideration when aligning your pitch to your customer.

Here we’ll take a look at the four different personality styles, how to identify them and what you can do to appeal to them in your sales pitch.

Personality Style One: 'Drivers' - assertive, but not self-disclosing

What are they like?  A Driver is a decision maker. They like to take charge, move quickly and are loathe to let things stand in their way.

How do I identify them?  If someone is focused on the present over learning from the past or forecasting the future, it’s likely they are Driver. A tell-tale sign is an interest in facts and data but without a great need for analysis - they can be very black and white. Another big clue is that they are competitive and concerned primarily with the bottom line.

Other indicators include a tendency to be opinionated and to speak quickly and loudly; to make statements and ask few questions; to make lots of direct eye contact; and to use hand gestures that are sharp and to the point.

How do I align my pitch?  Keep your presentation short, to the point and avoid embellishments or flowery language. Ending your presentation early (giving them back precious time) will go down well. Have facts, not opinions, ready to back up everything you say. Since Drivers like to make decisions, when going for the sale, provide them with a selection of packages or choices so the decision is not just a yes or a no.  Avoid too many pleasantries and don't get personal. Drivers don’t want to be your friend; they like to keep things professional.

Personality Style Two: 'Expressives' - assertive and self-disclosing

What are they like?  These guys are charming, friendly and outgoing. They are also creative, competitive and love to be the centre of attention.

How do I identify them?  Perhaps one of the more obvious types to identify, Expressives are animated, speak loudly, quickly and gesticulate frequently. They are “oversharers” who like to talk, especially about themselves and the future. They may repeat information back to your or think aloud since this is a way they process information.

How do I align my pitch? Your pitch to an Expressive will take far longer than to a Driver. Make sure you have enough time for small talk and a personal conversation. An Expressive enjoys talking about themselves, so ask lots of questions but be aware that you will need to gently bring them back to the topic and your pitch. They respond positively to name-dropping and endorsements from credible individuals or organizations. They also respond well to flattery so long as it comes across as authentic.

Personality Style Three: 'Amiables' - self-disclosing, but not assertive

What are they like?  Amiables are quiet, loyal and relationship-orientated. They are people pleasers who like to help others.

How do I identify them?  You’ll know an Amiable from their respectful and pleasant demeanor. They are slow to open up to new people and may be shy, reserving their opinions to avoid offense. These are not risk-takers and will consequently avoid, and perhaps even dislike, decision-making. They’ll be cordial but not overly friendly and probably won’t give you much feedback.

How do I align my pitch? Take time to build a rapport. If an Amiable comes to like you as a person, they will often become a loyal customer.  Aggressive tactics might win you short-term gains, but they will put the Amiable off any kind of long-term customer relationship. Focus on creating a connection through conversation and generating their trust. Present your product as low-risk and show you are listening by empathising with their concerns and allaying them. Amiables will eventually open up once a rapport has been achieved, so be patient.

Personality Style Four: 'Analytics' - neither assertive nor self-disclosing

What are they like?  Analytics are detailed-oriented, rely on facts and data for direction and use their learnings from the past to inform their decisions. They are slow to trust and are not risk-takers.

How do I identify them?  This type of person is quiet with few hand gestures but listens carefully and may take notes. They may seem cold, and this is down to the fact that they are slow to trust. They ask questions and listen carefully to the answers.

How do I align my pitch? Analytics will be testing you so be prepared and have the data ready to back up what you are saying. Use statistics, charts, diagrams and bullet points in your presentation but be exact and completely accurate. Mistakes will not be overlooked. Offer guarantees to minimize risk. Come prepared with a handout or report that includes additional information they can study at their leisure. Don't push them for an answer right away; this will put them off. 

Remember, the personality styles listed above are, after all, only stereotypes. Therefore, people will likely be a combination of more than one style. However, there is usually one style that is more dominant in an individual and you can use the tips above to align your pitch to suit them and close the deal.

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