Thursday, 28 February 2013


'Different Horses for different courses' was an expression before the horsemeat scandal of 2013 which described how it is important to choose suitable people for particular activities because every body has different talents. The courses referred to were possibly Epsom or Aintree rather than frozen beef lasagne or beef (?) burgers.

Extending the metaphor to Selling though has further difficulties since sales people cannot necessarily pick and choose their 'courses' - the huge variety of people and businesses they deal with.  

 Salespeople have to be able to race on the flat, jump national hunt steplechase  fences and even show jump.

This is a four part post on Selling to different personalities of clients (it is a long so feel free to scroll down to the sections which interest you)

To help you navigate the post there a three main sections plus a summary :-






In Professional Selling today it is critical for you to know  your personality style and that of the people you meet with also.

Sometimes, if the two don't match, rapport becomes more difficult to establish and maintain. 

The understanding of these personality styles will not only allow you to adapt your approach with these  clients but it will also develop your interpersonal skills with all people that you communicate with, including those people within your own company.

Before we can begin to analyse the personality styles of our clients we must feel comfortable in the understanding of these styles.  There are four basic styles:

Flipchart Cartoons by Simon Broom



These people will want to know what you have to offer in the shortest possible time. They are a bottom line type of person and they will not evaluate your offer based on whether they like you or not or whether they enjoyed your presentation or not.  They will evaluate your offer strictly based on what useful information they get from it in a very business-like fashion.


They would tend to be the individual who would say "Yes, there is some use in that offer, but did that presentation really need to take an hour and include a half day factory visit.  We could have read your proposal in far less time".  These are very time management conscious people who often need just a few key benefits to fully understand your offer.  Their pet hate is the wasting of time and often they are surrounded by time saving devices such as a desk computer, smartphones, a Blackberry, Filofax etc.
The Dominating Sociable wants to get involved in your presentation, to be recognised and generally feel good about what you have to offer.  They like professionalism in the presentation yet at the same time will get bored if there is too much detail, like lots of graphs and charts.  The Dominating Sociable tends to have a degree of emotion in what they say and do and they also tend to be fairly fast decision makers. They enjoy doing "fun things" and get things done immediately.  They don't need much time to think things through and if they decide in your favour they  then want it yesterday.

Flipchart Cartoons by Simon Broom



This person will tend to enjoy the company of others who have similar interests. They will tend to go with the majority as being part of the group is important to them. They will not care too much for the high powered presentation which might expose them as an individual.


They would rather like to have the opportunity to come up to you and discuss certain subjects after the presentation in a warm and friendly conversation.  They are fairly emotional people who like to take things a little slower and typically they will set up barriers because they do not like high pressure.


This person, unlike the Dominating Reserved, who will  not get bored in a two hour presentation, can sit through a three or more hour sales presentation and still only feel that you have only just scraped the surface of the subject.  These people love the detail and will sit there and soak up all the graphs and bar charts that you have to offer them and will still want more.  Typically they are difficult to get a decision from because they never get enough information to base their decision on.




                  RESERVED (ANALYTIC)
                   SOCIABLE (AMIABLE)



In this grid the vertical line is the sociability level , low at the top ,high at the bottom.  This means that the Yielding Sociable and the Yielding Reserved are less controlling than the Dominating Reserved and the Dominating Sociable.


 Dominating people are the type of "take charge" people who would look at a situation and consider how they would do it differently if they were in charge of it.  They tend to have a willingness to assert their ideas and philosophies to other people in a meetiing.


These two styles tend to have short attention spans and this is why they will get bored in a two hour presentation, as their minds are often flooding from one thing to another; they will not be thinking about the same thing fifteen minutes later. 
 Due ro these short attention spans, Dominating Reserved and Dominating Sociable get into the habit of making decisions quickly.  They will look at an idea and decide yes or no pretty quickly. 

The people to the left of the chart, the Yielding Sociable and the Yielding Reserved, are less assertive and do not have that driving desire to be in charge or control.  They would tend to want to be part of the group rather than lead it and tend not to have such a strong desire to express their ideas and philosophies.


The Yielding Reserved and Yielding Sociable have longer concentration spans and can quite easily sit through a longer presentation.  Because of their longer attention spans they get into the habit of making decisions slowly.  They genuinely need time to think things over.


It is important to recognise that, if you are a relatively fast decision maker, (Dominating Reserved or Dominating Sociable), a slow decision maker (Yielding Amiable or Yielding Reserved) can frustrate you.  If you are a Dominating Reserved or a Dominanting  Sociable, a proposal which was submitted four days ago should now render a response.  On the other hand, if you are naturally a slower decision maker, i.e.: a Yielding Sociable or a Yieldding Reserved, you become very suspicious of fast decision makers and might well feel that they could not make a solid decision in four days - it is just not natural.


On the grid, the vertical line is emotional level - low at the top, high on the bottom.  Yielding Reserved and Dominating Reserved people tend to make decisions based on facts whereas Dominating Sociables and Yielding Sociables make decisions based on emotions.  Another way to look at this line is that Yielding Reserved and Dominating Reserved people are generally tidy, organised, time management conscious people.  Whereas the Yiedling Sociable and the Dominating Sociable  in the bottom two quadrants  tend to be a little more sloppy and relaxed in the way they do things, often leaving a trail of unfinished detail behind them.



Let’s look closer on how these four different personality styles inter-relate and on how we can best handle them with versatility. 

 Usually you will have the most tension with the personality who is  directly across you on the grid.  If, for example, you are a Dominating Reserved, then you will enjoy the company of other Dominating Reserved.  They are down to earth no nonsense people; when you ask them a question you will get an answer; when you ask for a decision you will get a decision and they tend to stick with it.


It is when you have to deal with the  style across that you run into difficulty - the Yielding Sociable.  This is because you are thinking quickly and unemotionally and they are thinking slowly and emotionally.  You can make a superior proposal to a Yielding Sociable, far better than any competitors, and they still hold back simply because they do not feel comfortable with you yet.  They want to do business with people with whom they feel comfortable.


Conversely, if you are a Yielding Sociable, you will have the most difficulty with Dominating Reserved.  They appear to be hard headed people who have no feeling and you do not feel comfortable doing business with them.  They come across too cold.


If you are a Dominating Sociable you like other Dominating Sociables.  It is when you are up against the Yiedling Reserved is where the difficulties begin.  Yielding Reserved always appear to need too much information, too much detail work, they are far too cautious in the way they do things. Recognise that accuracy is a key factor when dealing with a Yielding Reseved.  Cost factors concerning your proposal should be given to the last penny.


Conversely, if you are a Yielding Reserved, it would appear to you that Dominating Sociables are too flippant, too easy going.  They tend to go off at different tangents without knowing all the real information that they ought to know about the situation.


By now  it is evident that when you are selling into an account, no matter what stage you may be at, you always will have to deal with these different personality styles.  Understanding your own personality style and understanding how you are relating to the other person will be  critical to building relations in the account. 


With a little practice you will be able to plot the people you meet on the grid, probably in the first two to three minutes in meeting them.  Here are some helpful hints in identifying them using the grid:


First of all you will go from top to bottom; is this an assertive person which means that they are either Dominating Reserved or Dominating Sociable ?


You would notice this by the firmness of the handshake, the kind of response they give you, the fact that they volunteer their name very easily when you meet, etc.  Or are they the less assertive person on the right  of the grid.


Having established this try and judge the way they say things and the warmth with which they respond to people to judge whether they are unemotional (top of the grid) meaning that they Yielding  Reserved or Dominating Reserveds or whether they are the emotional type of person (bottom of the grid), the Yielding Sociable or Dominating  Sociable.
4 - SUMMARY OF THE FOUR STYLES - these are guidelines
-           Tend to be very time management conscious
-           Do not waste time with a lot of small talk
-           Tend to get irritated by non business chit chat
-           Will use time-saving gadgets
-           Will tend to have their telephone calls screened by their colleagues  or PA
-           Their business environment is often formal
-           Their PAs make their calls/look after their diary/usher you in and out of their office rather than them coming to greet you
-           Socially, Dominant Introverts tend to like participation sports with a high level of activity; like skiing, flying, scuba diving etc.  They may like golf but dislike the time it takes to do it
-           They are tidy, have an organised desk and always dress reasonably formally.
-           Tend to set up barriers
-           Tend to stay in one position for a long period of time as they tend to develop relationships with things as well as people
-           Do not like high pressure and tend to avoid it where possible
-           There are, in general terms, Yielding Sociables in the top layers of management unless the culture of the organisation protects them from having to make assertive decisions
-           Very little sense of time management
-           Tend to be disorganised as they find it difficult to say no to people therefore they often have more work on than they can handle
-           Their environment is warm and comfortable
-           They are reluctant to change the things they have around them 
-           Tend to be friendly and open
-           Usually make their own telephone calls and do not necessarily screen incoming ones
-           Will tend to greet you in reception/outer office
-           May give you a tour of the company, greeting everyone warmly as they walk around the place
-           Tend to like excitement and spectator sports, e.g. football, cricket etc.
-           May possibly have pictures of their family in the office (Dominant Introverts would feel this was too informal)
-           Likely to spend time talking about their recent holiday or sporting event
-           They are warm and friendly and not afraid to say no to you
-           They are personable and at the same time assertive
-           Not particularly organised; tends to have a cluttered desk
-           Their follow up is questionable as they tend not to be well organised 
-           They are probably the easiest to identify by the type of job that they do, e.g. often credit control, compliance ,technical IT or an engineer.
-           Often surrounded by gadgets like computers, calculators, etc.
-           Tend to be inquisitive people
-           They tend to soak up information
-           They have a fascination for analysis; will tend to have charts and graphs around them
-           Very precise about punctuality and figures
-           Whereas the Dominating Sociables will feel management is all about inter-relating with people, Yielding Reserveds feel that management can be accomplished simply by generating information (i.e. as long as people know what they have to be doing).

Related Links

Client Personality Matrix Simple tea break refresher

Solution based selling course review

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