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Selling to different customer ‘types’

Selling to different customer ‘types’

By Ian Hirst, Greenbank CEO

One of the differences we have noticed in our conversations with sales managers over the last few years, is that there is a real acceptance that the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to selling simply doesn’t work anymore

Not unreasonably, customers and prospects have increasing expectations that a salesperson should tailor their pitch to them. This can mean of course showing an in-depth understanding of their business needs and pressures (as per the Challenger Sales ‘tailor for resonance’ approach for example) but it can of course also mean tailoring your message or even your whole sales approach to fit better with your prospect’s ‘personality’ differences.

This was brought home to me recently when I was on a buying panel myself and was really impressed with the enthusiasm and vision of one the salespeople pitching – only to be faced with alternative views from other people on the panel who saw them as lacking attention to detail and potentially untrustworthy, citing a couple of minor (in my view) grammar mistakes on the slides…

Many of you reading this will have been through an Insights Discovery workshop with us, and will already have a common language for understanding personality differences, so we thought we’d summarise some top tips to help your sales teams use this knowledge to be more successful and really ‘resonate’ with their prospects…

If you use a different personality language in your organisation (eg DiSC, Social Styles or MBTI), then you should be able to translate this fairly easily – We’ve shown the DiSC equivalent here…

Buyers with high Fiery Red (Dominant) energy

These buyers are goal-oriented, decisive, and competitive. They care more about results than personal relationships. They might not send you a holiday card, but if you deliver on your commitments, you’ll maintain a healthy business relationship. They care deeply about the bottom line.

They are also relatively impatient and like to be in control. They want information — fast — so they can make a decision and then move on.

They often speak in declarative sentences and ask few questions, so if you notice your customer says things like, “I’m looking for a new service provider who can do x, y & z,” rather than, “Can you explain the offerings you have?”, you’re probably dealing with a Fiery Red personality type.

Their volume is also a little louder than average, and they use animated, confident body language.

How to sell to them:

  • Professionalism is always important, but especially so when it comes to Fiery Red energy. Always make sure you’re prepared and punctual for a meeting. If you don’t know the answer to a question, let them know you’ll follow up instead of trying to give a halfway correct answer.
  • They appreciate efficiency. Don’t waste their time repeating facts or building up to your point – cut to the chase.
  • Emphasise how your product/service will solve their business’ problems. Cutting-edge features won’t impress unless you can demonstrate why they will be useful to their organisation.
  • Take advantage of their competitive streak and show them how your product/service will help stretch their company and allow them to compete with others in their industry.
  • Steer clear of personal opinions and testimonials. If you’re citing a successful customer, talk about the ROI they saw rather than how much they loved you or your product.
  • They may not always be great listeners so keep your statements short and to the point.

Buyers with high Earth Green (Compliant) energy

People with high Earth Green energy value personal relationships and want to trust their business partners. People with this personality ‘type’ are also sometimes called “humanists” for a good reason – they are concerned with others’ well-being and expect you to be as well!
Whether it’s their employees or their customers, they will want to know how decisions they make affect the people around them. They may come across as people-pleasers, but don’t be fooled – they often have powerful personalities and use them to convince others of their strongly held convictions.

Unlike colleagues with more Fiery Red energy, people with high Earth Green energy don’t make decisions quickly. They want to establish rapport with the people they do business with first and will often seek out the help or approval of multiple team members. Expect a longer sales process than usual.

They can be great listeners and might ask more personal questions in an attempt to get to know you outside of your professional role. They will be friendly, calm, and patient during meetings.

Conversations are generally laid-back and informal.

How to sell to them:

  • Take time to build rapport. They will need to feel safe in their relationship with your company before they’ll be comfortable doing business with you. Be prepared to take time at the beginning of a meeting to explore what’s going on in their world – and perhaps share something about yourself. Be sincere in this though – they will quickly spot if you are acting impatient!
  • Emphasise an ongoing relationship. If your company offers exceptional customer service or maintains long-term partnerships with its clients, now is the time to shout it (quietly of course…) from the rooftops.
  • Present case studies. They want to be reassured that you’re looking out for them and their people, and what better way to prove your track record than to show stories of how your business made an impact on other people’s lives?
  • Take the role of an expert and walk them through the decision-making process. Instead of overwhelming them with information, calmly help them through the process and act as a trusted advisor.
  • Give them personal assurances. Since they can be risk-averse, promising them your company will refund their purchase if they’re not satisfied or they can cancel at any time will calm their anxieties and make them likelier to buy.

Buyers with high Sunshine Yellow (Influence) energy

People with high Sunshine Yellow energy like the excitement of new challenges and will enthusiastically dive into finding creative or unexpected solutions – but on the flip side, they probably won’t do a ton of research before meeting with you – so you might need to make sure any information you need them to read is clearly summarised!

They are creative, outgoing, spontaneous, and rely on their intuition. They value mutual respect, loyalty, and friendship. Don’t make offhand commitments – not delivering on an offer could spell the end of your relationship.

They tend to be very enthusiastic and colourful. Like people with high Earth Green energy, they’ll want to bond with you and feel connected on a personal level, but like buyers with Fiery Red energy, they are often very sure of their beliefs and will speak more in statements rather than asking questions.

How to sell to them:

Be enthusiastic, sincerely friendly and SMILE – ask them open questions about them and their business – and be prepared to listen actively!

Pitch a vision. Help them visualise the outcomes their business could achieve with the help of your product or service – but make it about them – show how you have listened.

Bring up examples of similar customers who have successfully used your product/service. Flesh out the story – why did client X come to you? What tipped them toward your product? Which features were most important? Details like these are convincing.

Don’t focus too much on facts and figures. Data is important, but if they trust you, they will assume you are on top of the data. Get a tick in this box early on in the sale by demonstrating competence and they will happily leave the detail to you.

Involve them throughout the buying process – so in in a pitch, summarise along the way. You want to continually get their buy-in and keep them involved, so ask questions like, “So, we agree that you can use templates to automate the assurance process?”

Buyers with high Cool Blue (Steadiness) energy

People with high Cool Blue energy type appreciate the importance of in-depth data, facts, and figures. As no-nonsense people, they’ll look past a flowery pitch and get straight to the facts. Be prepared to field a lot of detailed questions and don’t be surprised if it seems like they already know you and your company – they will research you and your business before meeting.

They stick to their deadlines, but they do not make decisions quickly. They care about thoroughly vetting and understanding the options available to them and won’t jump the gun on a decision. They are more logical and cautious than any other personality type — but once they make a decision, they won’t reverse it unless some new data becomes available.

They are less expressive than other personality types. They are concerned with facts rather than emotion, and likely won’t spend time getting to know you on a personal level. In conversation, they are serious, direct, and formal. They might not use expressive gesturing in meetings, but you can be sure they are listening intently.

How to sell to them:

Never rush somebody with high Cool Blue energy. Be prepared for a longer selling process, as they will take as much time as they need to gather all the facts they feel are necessary to make a decision.

Assume they are prepared and have done their research. This doesn’t mean you should skip over introductory information, but you can expect to spend less time talking basic features, and more time discussing customised solutions for their business.

Avoid making high-level claims. Always provide data when you make an assertion, or risk losing credibility. Overhyping your product might make them suspicious that you’re using flowery language to mask flaws.

Provide as much detailed information as possible. Instead of saying “Our product drives growth for many companies,” say, “Our product increased sales in 13 Fortune 500 companies by 25% or more year – on – year.” You can offer more information than they ask for without risking them becoming overwhelmed – in fact, they’ll probably welcome it.

Don’t try to force a relationship that’s not there. They might become annoyed by those they feel are overly flattering or obsequious.

And Finally…

… keep in mind that most customers will be a mix of these personality types and won’t fit neatly into one of the four categories above. However, once you’re familiar with these core personalities, you should be able to tailor your selling strategy to fit any situation you come across.

About Greenbank

Greenbank are an innovative, ‘boutique’ consultancy delivering completely tailored leadership, negotiation and sales development programmes to clients ranging from top 5 global firms to tech start-ups.

We are now delighted to be running truly blended programmes, which make the most of both virtual platforms and interactive face-to-face workshops, to deliver motivational, cost-effective development.

We also have our own industry-leading, multi-lingual, 360° assessment platform, Navigator360 which provides our clients and other training providers with a completely flexible approach to gathering powerful confidential feedback.

If you would like to discuss how we can help your own sales or leadership teams, then we would be delighted to have a relaxed conversation – please contact Ian Hirst or (+44) 7812 074359.