Do You Know Who You’re Selling to?
Alan G. Bayham
It happens over and over
again. The sales representative delivers an outstanding presentation
to the prospect. She not only knew all the facts about her product,
but also about all of her competitors. Her vocal skills were
impeccable, and she portrayed professionalism and confidence. Her
close was strong and affirmative.
But her prospect – a very
prominent physician – said he would “consider” using her product if
it became “appropriate.” He may as well have said, “No.” What went
While it is true that
everyone is different and unique, it’s also true that people tend to
fall into four basic behavioral types when it comes to buying a
service or product. The success (or failure) of the sales call is
dependent upon the sales representative being able to distinguish
the correct behavioral type of the prospect, the sales message and
also the appropriate communication style. For example, a sales
representative cannot sell the same way to Donald Trump as he can to
Richard Simmons, and visa versa. The product is the same in both
sales calls, but in order to close the sale effectively, the
approach and the message would (or should) be different to each of
the four categories.
The Donald Trump – The Direct Type: This buyer is usually a
Type A personality – think, “Donald Trump.” They are usually in a
hurry and tend to be very direct in their conversation. Direct Type
Buyers are often blunt and even interrupt the sales representative
constantly. They state their opinions as fact. They are impatient
and demanding, wanting to get to “the bottom line” quickly.
While you want to be
direct and specific, provide alternatives so that the Direct Type
Buyer can make the decision to buy. Let this buyer speak and you
listen. Do not go into all the details or try to control the
situation. Ensure he/she “wins.” You must act quickly, because this
buyer type decides fast. Whatever happens, don't take issues
2. The Richard Simmons –
The Interpersonal Buyer:
This buyer is very
friendly and excitable, often animated – think “Richard Simmons.”
They cannot focus on details and jump from subject to subject.
Because they don’t always have the ability to listen for long
periods, they may ask the same question several times. Interpersonal
Buyers are more interested in forming a relationship than they are
Schedule time for
chatting and let this buyer speak, giving recognition as
appropriate. Talk about people and feelings. As you converse with
this buyer type, move closer and maintain a positive atmosphere. You
want to show how your product will help to achieve popularity and
recognition. Focus on the people aspects. Do not fail to socialize.
Also, do not set hard restrictions, unless absolutely necessary.
3. The “Aunt Bee”– The
Safety or Status Quo Type:
These buyers usually
appear calm and do not get easily excited, imagine speaking with
“Aunt Bee” from the old Andy Griffith show. They listen
carefully and ask specific questions. Completely new ideas/things
make these buyers uncomfortable.
It is key to slow down
your presentation and build trust. Provide the necessary information
that this buyer needs logically, and secure commitment piece by
piece. Ask specific questions to find out true needs, and then
provide support. It is also advantageous to provide precedents or
examples of previous success to reduce uncertainty. Be sincere and
do not dominate.
4. The Albert Einstein
– The Contemplative Buyer: These buyers are usually very
quiet. They focus on details and ask questions. The “Albert
Einstein” characters of the world study specifications and other
information carefully. In fact, they may have even done some
research on your product or service prior to your sales call.
When selling to this
type, patiently provide facts and plenty of detailed information. Go
slowly and do not invade his or her private space. Avoid talking
about personal issues or small talk. Listen carefully, and then
answer questions calmly and carefully. Be thorough; remember to
include all relevant information, utilizing written supporting
documentation. Find out what the key issues are and focus on them.
Don't move too fast, move too close or lose patience in providing
all the requested information. Also, don't expect decisions right
In order to be
successful, sales representatives must tailor their approaches and
messages very differently to each Buyer Behavioral Type. Let's
examine the differences below:
As the numbers suggest,
sales representatives who try to use the same “canned” message will
be effective only 25 percent of the time because the approach and
message will be effective only for the buyer behavior type it was
designed for. The ability to recognize the various behavior types
and adapt the sales call appropriately takes training and practice.
Also, just as buyers fall
into one of each of these buying types, so do sellers. More times
than not, sales representatives will have to learn (and train)
themselves on how to adapt their own behavioral type to the specific
prospect they’re calling on. Success in the sales arena will
increase exponentially by training sales representatives on how to
properly identify the behavioral type of their prospect, and how to
adapt the sales approach and message appropriately.
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