A salesperson’s primary job is to leverage their interpersonal skills to drive a sale. We all know that the majority of sales research is done online, but a salesperson plays a pivotal role in securing a sale by establishing a relationship with their clients and providing a feeling of trust and assurance for their clients when making a purchase.
An understanding of SOCIAL STYLE and Versatility is a crucial tool to have in every sales person’s back pocket. I mean, wouldn’t it be great to have a well-researched and effective resource readily available to help you positively impact your relationships? Well ta-da! The Versatility Factor book is that tool!
This book is your guide to a better understanding of how to utilize SOCIAL STYLE and Versatility to leverage different situations that you might find yourself in when in a sales role, for example, presenting, motivating people, building customer relationships, conducting sales calls, gaining customer commitments, negotiating agreements, and so much more.
Check out this excerpt on conducting sales calls:
Effective sales calls are critical to the success of any organization. Salespeople need to be sure to take time to carefully plan, manage, and evaluate each step of the associated processes. Sometimes, even professional sales people fail to adequately prepare for their sales calls, relying instead on their personality, past successes, and product knowledge to guide them through their calls. Too often, the ensuing result is no sale.
It is not just knowing everything you can about the customer’s business needs and how your product or service can meet those needs. Knowing your customer’s SOCIAL STYLE and adjusting your behaviors to facilitate your interactions are essential to achieving your sales call objective. Planning ahead will result in better organization, clarity, and productivity during the meeting. To effectively engage your customer, let their SOCIAL STYLE be your guide!
Some sales calls are made not to individuals but to purchasing committees or to a primary buyer and their support team. It may not always be possible to make each SOCIAL STYLE totally comfortable during such sales calls—this is not a reasonable expectation for any professional salesperson. However, there are some strategies you can use to strike a balance between competing SOCIAL STYLE needs and achieving the results you require. Planning ahead is the key. Recognize and identify the SOCIAL STYLE of the different members of your customer’s team, and anticipate the different types of responses, questions, and attitudes. Prepare ahead of time to respond to these individuals in a way that will satisfy them without diverting too far from your agenda and sales objective. Provide information ahead of time if this is possible, and even have one-on-one discussions or email exchanges with certain customer team members if you feel this will help.
After the sales call, be sure to follow up with your customers. By doing so, you can get valuable information about the perceived effectiveness of the call and confirm you are still on track to move the sales process to a successful close.
On the following pages we will introduce you to a number of ways to prepare for sales calls with each of the four SOCIAL STYLEs.
Do not schedule a sales call with a Driving Style customer unless it is absolutely necessary. These people usually prefer other means of communicating, such as telephone and email. If you schedule a faceto- face meeting that your customer doesn’t feel is necessary, don’t be surprised to find them impatient and rushed.
Share your sales call agenda with your customer, in advance if possible. Simultaneously, be ready to change direction if you find your customer has brought a different agenda with them to the sales call. Take a moment to get their input and renegotiate agenda items and time frames with them in a way that allows you both to achieve your objectives.
For a Driving Style customer, provide information in bullet points and data in graphics, such as charts and pie graphs. Avoid lengthy narratives that take time to read, or too many marketing graphics that don’t directly support outcomes.
Due to their assertive nature, customers with this SOCIAL STYLE may try to dominate discussions and speak over you. Allowing the customer to dominate the conversation can be frustrating and will decrease the productivity of the sales call. Avoid this situation by ensuring you have agreement on the agenda and move at a suitably fast pace, especially if you have an Analytical or Amiable Style.
Driving Style people can be impatient when talking about specifics. If the sales call entails analyzing and discussing fine details, they may become difficult to deal with and may not interact with you in a meaningful way. To prevent this from happening, don’t make analyzing detailed information one of the sales call objectives.
Make detailed information available to these customers but don’t expect them to focus on it during the sales call. When asking these customers to do something, such as provide you information that will help you refine your sales offer, be very clear about what you need. Let this customer know you need the information in order to recommend the best options.
Driving Style people generally do not want or need you to check on them after the sales call. Keep your follow-up communication succinct and to the point. Thank them for their time; list the next steps or actions to be taken; and let them know you are available if needed.
Let these customers stay focused on their tasks and deadlines. If they promised you additional information or a decision by a certain date, don’t bother them with reminders.
Finally, Driving Style customers are disciplined about time. Always confirm the time available at the beginning of your meeting.
Don’t expect a one hour call to last that long. Be sure to cover your key items within a shorter amount of time and start to conclude somewhat short of the allotted time. This will ensure the Driving Style person doesn’t suddenly end the meeting to move on to their next agenda item.
Expressive Style customers usually do not mind sales calls, though at times they can be impatient if they are feeling rushed or overwhelmed either by the sales process or by other aspects of their job. When preparing the sales call agenda, try to schedule some time that will be stimulating or personally meaningful for these individuals. This can be accomplished by giving them time to share about themselves (a form of personal recognition), or even through the use of humor.
Plan to engage in lively sales conversations with these individuals as they are vocal and will want to interact with you. Never ask them to wait to the end of your sales presentation to ask questions. Instead, ask them questions and invite them to interact with you from the start; this will help to get them engaged and focused.
For an Expressive Style customer, provide supporting information and materials that have a visual and exciting impact through images and colorful descriptions of your product or service. Materials with testimonials and personal endorsements of your solution are usually highly appreciated by these customers.
If this customer seems insistent on redirecting the sales conversation to other topics, be flexible. Allow them to express themselves and allow them to momentarily wander off the path. Then, gently guide them back to the agenda.
If these individuals feel disengaged or ignored during sales calls, they may become bored. Rather than sitting and listening quietly, they are likely to become agitated. Due to their assertive natures, they may behave in disruptive ways by interrupting you, using sarcastic humor, or otherwise attempting to focus attention on their dissatisfaction with the sales call. This can be frustrating and can decrease the productivity of the sales call. To avoid this situation, move at a faster pace and keep them involved in the sales conversation. Look for hints in your past communications with this person to identify what is exciting and innovative to them, and be prepared to reinforce how your solution can help them achieve their dreams and aspirations.
By agreeing to a general agenda in advance, you can neutralize the potential for counterproductive behavior. Remember their unruly behavior may be a mechanism to insert themselves into the sales conversation if they are feeling left out. Help them get back to a more productive state by appealing to their spontaneity. Ask questions, such as how they feel about the feature or benefit you are discussing.
In short, find a way to engage them in the sales conversation. Expressive Style people are sometimes disorganized in their approach. They are often impatient with details and lengthy discussions about single topics. Keep them enthusiastic and motivated by building on their ideas even if it means temporarily straying from the agenda.
Don’t make reviewing or analyzing detailed information one of the sales call objectives. Make detailed information available to these customers but don’t make them suffer through it in a sales call.
Remember, these customers prefer to see the big picture and to be inspired by how they can make things better in the future.
For the sake of developing a good, long-term relationship, make sure they have practical expectations of what your product or service can provide. Be prepared to show enthusiasm for what your solution can do for this person as well as their organization and let the customer know about well-known individuals or organizations that use your solutions.
Because Expressive Style customers can be less organized than other SOCIAL STYLEs, and because this customer prefers not to deal with details, they generally appreciate it if you take care of the details and manage the process. Provide a summary email that recaps what was covered in the sales call, agreements made, and the next steps in the sales process.
Be friendly in your follow-up communication with this customer. Thank them very much for their time. Be sure to gently remind them of any next step or action they need to take and to let them know you’ll check in with them at a specific date in the future. They will generally welcome a follow-up, as long as you don’t come across as overly demanding. Recognize their less-disciplined use of time and be patient with them.
Amiable Style customers actually enjoy sales calls because such meetings give them an opportunity to interact with others. They enjoy mixing casual conversation with business topics; however, this does not mean that they like to waste time. They use the casual conversation as a way of establishing personal relationships, which they inherently value.
When planning the sales call agenda for these customers, if possible, try to include additional time. This may be necessary to account for casual, off-topic discussions. Interacting with others is important to them and will help them be more comfortable with you and more receptive to your sales message.
Before the sales call, if possible, try to anticipate and consider the various issues, concerns, or viewpoints these customers might have. Be prepared to discuss these issues, and be ready to bring them up in the event the customers themselves do not raise them. This is an effective strategy for involving these customers who by nature are less talkative and more hesitant to confront you with their concerns.
For an Amiable Style customer, provide material emphasizing how your solution helps people and their problems. If possible, provide recommendations from other customers. Avoid giving too much information about facts and details, such as overly technical specifications; let this customer know the additional information is at their disposal as the sales process progresses.
Don’t expect this customer to make on-the-spot decisions. They like to get the opinions of others and ensure their key relationships will support their decisions.
Because Amiable Style people are naturally cooperative, it can be difficult to recognize when they are frustrated or disengaged from you during the sales call. Some signs this may be the case include them being quieter than usual or making terse or critical statements.
In addition, their personal tension can be reflected in their facial expressions and body language. To avoid disengagement, allow the conversation to stray from the agreed-upon agenda. Occasionally ask this customer for their opinion about the topic at hand or some feature of your product or service.
A particularly effective method for keeping these customers engaged in the sales call is to help them to be active contributors and to communicate what is on their mind. This may mean helping them feel safe in stating their concerns or disagreements if they don’t seem fully committed to a course of action. Since these individuals are generally noncompetitive, you may need to explicitly ask for their input rather than assume they agree.
Amiable Style customers generally prefer sales calls proceed at a casual pace. Avoid rushing through your sales presentation. Take the time to engage this customer throughout the process and make sure they are comfortable with you and the process.
This customer can seem too agreeable. Be sure to ask questions that uncover their unexpressed feelings and that may later emerge as roadblocks to advancing the sale.
This customer likes to interact with others, so they will likely be less resistant to a sales call with you than other SOCIAL STYLEs; however, their readiness to meet face-to-face with you does not necessarily mean they are ready to buy from you.
Some SOCIAL STYLEs prefer to know their options and the implications of each. Not so with the Amiable Style. With this customer, provide a specific recommendation you believe offers the best option for them personally. If they need to share your recommendation with others whose opinions they value, don’t automatically assume they are stalling or indirectly rejecting your proposal.
Getting the input of others is one way this SOCIAL STYLE lowers risk, and thereby gives them permission to move forward.
Because they inherently value relationships, Amiable Style customers will likely want to maintain their business relationship with you, even if they are not interested in buying from you. As a professional salesperson, it can be valuable for you to ask these people for their feedback about sales calls. As long as they trust you, they will give their opinions, and this information can provide insight into how to improve future sales calls with them and others.
Be warm and friendly in your follow-up communication with this customer. Thank them very much for their time. Keep in mind these individuals are motivated by verbal praise, as long as it is sincere. Let them know you’ll be checking in with them in the future.
They will likely welcome your follow-up as long as you don’t come across as being too aggressive. If you are expecting customers with this SOCIAL STYLE to take some action necessary to move the sale forward after the sales call, keep in mind their less-disciplined use of time and be patient with how their SOCIAL STYLE behaviors can prolong the sales process.
A good agenda with both adequate detail and timing goes a long way for Analytical Style customers. They tend to focus on time and want to know what the priorities are for a given sales call, so make this clear on the agenda. Try to anticipate their concerns or points of view beforehand so you will be prepared to respond to them during the sales call.
These customers want sales calls to be focused. When planning the sales call, make sure you come prepared with necessary materials and information; otherwise these individuals may feel their time is being wasted and the sales call should be rescheduled.
Be business-like as you move through the agenda at a deliberate pace. At all times, keep in mind this customer is interested in making the right decision and will use the facts and details you provide in making up their mind. Avoid statements that might be interpreted as exaggerations; be as logical and accurate as possible.
These customers can become frustrated if they feel you are wasting time, you are not adequately focused on important matters, or when you try to rely on your personality more than facts and data. When this occurs, they might withdraw and withhold their active involvement in the sales conversation. However, if they feel strongly about a matter, they will share their discontent. They may stubbornly make their points and become entrenched. If this customer seems to withdraw from the sales conversation, make sure you don’t move too fast or skip information they feel is important. Explicitly ask for their opinions, since they might otherwise hesitate to state their concerns in a sales call.
Analytical Style customers generally prefer sales calls proceed at a slow to moderate pace. Avoid rushing through your sales presentation. Take the time to engage this customer throughout the process by asking them what their thoughts are as you move through the agenda and allow for enough time to answer detailed questions.
For an Analytical Style customer, provide materials containing facts, full explanations, research data, and graphics such as charts and pie graphs. Avoid relying on marketing materials that don’t provide meaningful information to them. Add case examples that realistically show how your solution helped others who have experienced similar business problems. Avoid personal stories meant to have an emotional impact.
Analytical Style customers can be very deliberate and methodical. This affects how they discuss issues during sales calls and ultimately how they make the purchase decision. They can be slow to agree with your assertions and recommendations. When possible, provide them with relevant information well ahead of the sales call. This will give them a chance to review the information in advance and help satisfy their need for supporting details. Analytical Style people generally do not want or need you to check on them unnecessarily. Keep your follow-up communication with them succinct and to the point. If you have promised to provide them additional information or to take some action after the sales call, do so expeditiously. This will help reassure them of your competence, a trait they highly value in business relationships.
If this customer promised you additional information or to take some action (such as make a decision) by a certain date, let them stay focused on their tasks and deadlines. Keep in mind, however, that even though they are more disciplined about time, they tend to be slower paced, which means that unnecessary reminders may be seen as annoying interruptions. Also, since they don’t need strong personal connections in their business relationships, they might prefer if you check with them through email rather than in person or by phone.