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Communicating with Different Personalities

In sales it is important to understand that there are many different types of people that you will be dealing with and if you treat them all in the same way you will have some issues.

One school of thought on the subject classifies people into four distinct “Social Styles”. The “labels” for these types are Analytical, Driver, Amiable and Expressive.

These types were determined by certain characteristics in their personality comprised of a combination of assertiveness and responsiveness. Thus the following shows what characteristics those types have.

1. Analytical: Low assertive; Low responsive.
2. Driver: High assertive; Low responsive
3. Amiable: Low assertive; High responsive
4. Expressive: High assertive; High responsive

What do these assertive/responsive things mean?

A LOW RESPONSIVE person may have many of the following characteristics:
Reserved or poker faced; Is cautious/careful with actions; Wants facts and figure; Will make eye contact infrequently; Will likely have a severe look; Is not animated with their hands might even clasp them; Will spend little time on personal details; Can seem preoccupied.

A HIGH RESPONSIVE person may have many of the following characteristics:
Animated, good use of facial expressions – smiles, nods, frowns etc; Will appear open and eager; Does not push for a lot of detail; Frequent eye contact; Friendly appearance; Lots of hand gestures; Shares personal feelings; Is attentive and obviously enjoys people.

A LOW ASSERTIVE person may have many of the following characteristics:
Will seldom voice ideas; quiet and submissive posture; Very deliberate and sometimes a little slower when speaking; Indifferent handshake; Asks questions more than makes statements; Can be vague and unclear about needs; Tends to lean backwards.

A HIGH ASSERTIVE person may have many of the following characteristics:
Very emphatic in discussions; Can be aggressive in their “look”; Quick, clear and fast paced; Firm handshake; Makes statements more than asks questions; Clear in what they want; will often lean forward when making a point.

The following are some strategies when dealing with the various personality types …

1. Analytical people want RESPECT. Recognize them as an expert; provide solid data; be very systematic; give them things in writing; demonstrate stability.
2. Drivers want POWER. They respond well when a solution gives them more control; they are results driven; value access to authority and important people; want action.
3. Expressives want RECOGNITION. They want to be seen as the leader, or the hero; they want to be first; they want visibility; anything that sets them up as an example of success will help.
4. Amiables want APPROVAL. They respond well to popular ideas, things that are well adopted everywhere; they don’t want conflict; they avoid risk; they like supporting data; they want to protect their reputation and enhance their self esteem.

This is obviously a VERY cursory look at this fascinating subject of personalities. My goal here was to educate sales people on this subject … but the same lessons apply when dealing with family, friends and people in general.

Personality profiling is used in all kinds of fields in addition to sales … it is used for hiring, dating, by law enforcement just to name a few. I think a little understanding of the subject does help in sales, particularly when you find yourself having trouble relating to a particular client.

Here are a few other resources you might want to check out:

San Diego State University have some material on this subject.
This web development company, (AH Digital FX Studios), have some material specific to designing websites.
Peter Urs Bender is author of a number of books and his website has a page devoted to dealing with difficult customers.

Good selling … but don’t forget to understand who you are selling to!