Tom Courtney

In his second of two articles, Tom Courtney, Founder and Managing Director of Courtney Associates (Global), builds on his first article about selling and the fact that whilst we obviously need a good product or service to sell, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that…People Buy from People!

“Your product’s great, the market needs it and your company’s sales strategy is technically sound……..but is this enough to gain a competitive advantage when you are in front of a prospective client?”

As I stated in Part One of this article, it is too simplistic to say that ‘people buy from people’. Perhaps the phrase should be ‘People buy from people who behave in line with how they like to behave’.

As I also stated in Part One, there are many and varied characters out there that whom we are trying to sell to. I highlighted the following groups:

Forceful, Direct, Results Orientated People – I called them (D) People

Fun, Talkative, Outgoing People – I called them (I) People

Steady, Patient ,Relaxed People – I called them (S) People

Precise, Analytical, Accurate, Detailed Oriented People – I called them (C) People

I highlighted that our challenge when selling to others was to recognise what type of person we are dealing with and to adapt our behaviour in such a way as to build rapport, connect and influence them to buy from us. In essence getting them to like us.

Recognising a ‘D’ Character

A ‘D’ character can be described with the following words – independent, quick, direct, decisive, daring, determined, challenge-orientated, forceful, objective, achieving, firm, confident and results-driven.

A ‘D’ character is easy to recognise straight away. When building up a rapport and connecting with a prospective client, that is very useful to understand. Generally, a ‘D’ character can be recognised as someone who likes to get to the point with the minimum of small talk.

They like to stick to business and have low patience levels when irrelevant facts are being presented or when another party is taking too long to get to the point. They are generally quite decisive people and use strong words with a strong tone of voice and generally display a lot of dominant non-verbal communications.

Some tips to communicate, influence, build rapport and connect with a ‘D’ character in a sales context would be:

Be clear, specific and to the point – don’t ramble on or waste time

Stick to business, don’t get too personal or waste time with idle chit chat

Be prepared when meeting with them and present facts logically and in short chunks

Provide alternatives and choices for them to make their own decisions

Motivate and persuade by referring to results

Be punchy and to the point when communicating

Recognising an ‘I’ Character

An ‘I’ character can be described with the following words – emotional, enthusiastic, optimistic, outgoing, excitable, persuasive, friendly, charming, humorous, motivating and inspiring.

An ‘I’ character is another easily recognisable person. They tend to talk a lot and are very animated non-verbally. They are comfortable talking about themselves and sharing personal details about themselves very quickly. You can be in the company of a strong ‘I’ character for ten minutes and it feels as if you have known them for ten years. Their face is an open book and they respond quickly and emotionally to any controversial, happy or sad news given to them.

Some tips to communicate, influence, build rapport and connect with an “I” character would be:

Allow time for relating and socialising – don’t be curt, cold or tight lipped

Talk about people and their goals – don’t drive on facts and figures

Ask for their opinion – don’t be impersonal or task orientated

Use enough time to be stimulating, fun and fast-moving – don’t cut meetings short or be too business-like.

Recognising an “S” Character

An ‘S’ character can be described with the following words – cooperative, loyal, supportive, diplomatic, patient,easy-going, respectful, effective listener, approachable, friendly, tolerant and encouraging.

An ‘S’ character, whilst not the easiest character to recognise straight away, none the less does give out signals. They tend to be a little more reserved and don’t talk much, although when they have something to say it is generally worth listening to. An ‘S’ character tends to be less animated than an ‘I’ character and emphasises points with gentle less erratic hand gestures. ‘S’ characters, unlike the ‘I’, don’t tend to talk about themselves a lot. They are much more interested in others from a caring perspective. Again, unlike the ‘I’ character, the ‘S’ character doesn’t wear their heart on their sleeve and their face doesn’t tend to be an open book. As a result of this, they tend to make very effective counsellors, mentors or coaches.

Some tips to communicate, influence, build rapport and connect with an ‘S’ character would be:

Start a meeting on a personal level to break the ice – don’t rush headlong into business

Show a sincere interest in them as people

Patiently listen to them and draw out their thoughts or ideas – don’t force a quick response to your questions

Present your case logically, softly and non-threateningly

If they are talking to you, give them time to speak and don’t interrupt

Make gentle movements non-verbally – don’t be too animated

If a decision is required of them, allow them time to think – don’t force a quick decision

Recognising a ‘C’ Character

A ‘C’ character can be described with the following words – logical, thorough, serious, systematic, critical, conscientious, precise, perfectionist, deliberate, high standards and accurate.

A ‘C’ character is one of the hardest characters to identify quickly face to face. They tend to look in control of a situation and in a sales context, tend to take a lot of notes when you are pitching to them. They can look pensive, contemplative and sometimes evasive when you are communicating with them and in the extreme, can lack a little warmth. A ‘C’ character places a lot of emphasis on detail, facts and figures and in a sales situation, it is always best to be well prepared when pitching to them, knowing all the details of your proposal and bid document.

Some tips to communicate, influence, build rapport and connect with a “C” character would be:

Be well prepared – don’t be disorganised, out of control or messy

Approach a ‘C’ in a straightforward direct way – don’t be casual, informal or personal

Use a thoughtful approach to sales – don’t force a quick decision

Present specifics and do what you say you can do

Draw up an action plan with schedules dates and milestones

In disagreement with a ‘C’ prove your case with clear data, facts and testimonials – don’t appeal to opinion or feelings as evidence

Provide a ‘C’ with the information and time they need to make a decision

None of these tips will guarantee success when selling, however in a competitive world where we have to maximise every element of the sales process and where the small margins can make a big difference, understanding behaviour and getting people to like us can make a massive difference to the bottom line.

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