In our last post we discussed the importance of preparing and beginning to engage your targets in well conceived conversations. We described the common conversation points and what people in various prospect company roles care about. See our last blog for more details. You can also now download a great tool for building and organizing your conversation points. Just click here.
Today we’ll discuss an often overlooked tactic that will help you better identify and understand your prospects’ primary conversational styles, ask more relevant questions and move the conversation and the sales forward faster and better.
There are four common conversation styles. Each of us has one style that is the most dominant. The four styles, their characteristics and some helpful hints are described below:
People with Dominant Styles tend to be very direct and want to hear the facts, so have your bullet points ready. These prospects are very competitive, confident and primarily focused on results: “I want it done right and I want it done right now” is a good descriptor of this conversational style.
If you’re speaking with someone you think might be decision maker and they are concerned about key business benefits, you will be wise to focus your conversation by being direct, being focused on goals and providing options that will help them make a decision.
(Hint: A person with whom you can engage with this style may just be a decision maker after all!)
So here’s an example conversation point designed for a decision maker: “We have recently helped the ABC Company in your industry reduce operating expenses by 20% resulting in an average savings of X. We have a couple of ways we might help your business with similar or greater benefits.” This type of statement is factual, to the point and will resonate with their style. DO NOT engage in story telling unless 1) you have built currency, 2) have a relationship and 3) only over a beer, a meal or some other casual situation.
People with Extroversion Styles tend to be affable, outgoing and respond more on a raw emotional basis. They are primarily focused on relationships and people. So let’s say you are selling software and you hear this: “Let me tell you what happened to me the last time we tried implementing this (other) software tool.” This is a good example of the type of statement someone with an Extroversion Style might make. It’s emotion-based.
When engaging people with this style, make sure you use illustrations, stories and testimonials coupled with just enough facts to get your value proposition across. Also, always summarize your key points. “Face-to-the market” people tend have Extroversion as their dominate style, by the way.
So if you’re speaking to a manager in the target business who cares about the “advantages” of your product or service, you probably want to be a little more upbeat in your tone. Also, be sure to touch on some emotional factors. Here’s an example: “Our machines not only help save money but the safety rating is the best in the industry. This is because our company has a zero tolerance goal for injuries to your line workers”. Unlike the dominant style, this type of person will enjoy much more story telling.
(Hint: Don’t fall into the trap of what we call “howdy conversations” without trying to move the conversation and your sale forward while doing it.)
People with a Patient Styles tend to be very patient of course, loyal and good listeners. Their dominant style is very focused on collaboration or cooperation. “We are all in this together so let’s work as a team” is a comment they might say – certainly an attitude they would often have in working with people. When engaging with this style, make sure you ask good open ended question, wait and listen for the response.
(Hint: Remember the 10 second Rule!)
Be slow, be sensitive to their emotions, support their feelings and continue to be re-assuring. So for example, if you’re speaking to an end-user of your product or service with a Patient Style, you have a great opportunity to 1) get their feedback, 2) gather competitive intelligence, and more importantly, 3) their valuable buy-in if they “feel” like you are a trusted resource and part of their team.
(Hint: Companies that could rely on end-users to collaborate on decisions tend to blow right past them because they are not the “decision maker”. While normally not the ultimate decision makers, they ARE decision breakers.)
People with Compliant Styles tend to be cautious, risk-averse, analytical and “by the book”. Their primary focus is about quality. “Can you provide me some documentation or specs for your product?” is something you might often hear from people with this style.
When engaging with this style, be well prepared, set an agenda, have structured information with logical solutions. Be ready to provide a contrast for the advantages and dis-advantages of your product or service and that of your competitor.
So if you are speaking with the “technical” influencer, be mindful of the reason they ask for information or a demo. They ask to see a demo or more information because that’s their preferred style – NOT because that’s the pathway to a win! Some of our clients make available a self service portal with technical information, videos, etc., that such a person might want. In this way they get what they need on their own time while you can spend more of your one-on-one time with them mapping out the political landscape and discovering key people so you can have the best chance of moving the conversation and the opportunity to a close.
(Hint: Change the rules of the game by staying in the “Conversation” mode which is live and real time. Don’t handicap yourself by focusing on a demo or playing the benefit comparison game like your competitors do. Avoid this “chess through the mail with pawns” unwinnable game and stick to the Conversation which is live, one-on-one, unusual and differentiating.)
If you’re interested in this topic and would like to have a free copy of one our sample tools related to it, please Click the Link Here.
In our next post we’ll discuss the key points in developing your Elevator Pitch.
Until next time, keep your Sales in OverDrive!