Zero In On Your Customers! (written March, 2008)

Do you ever wonder how some sales people seem to get through to everybody they encounter? It has nothing to do with being a salesperson. More likely they recognize or have been trained to recognize different kinds of people and to determine what they respond to. Great sales people and politicians too, pick up on the communication style of the person they’re addressing and quickly slip into it. The result is instant rapport and probably a sale as well.

Here are four different types of people and some tips for getting through to them effectively. As you familiarize yourself with them, try to see which one applies to you personally. Then see how some of your customers fit into one style or another. The better you understand the types, the better you’ll be able to tailor your sales presentations to each individual.

  1. The Dynamo. Unless you happen to be one yourself, this kind of person can be intimidating. They’re people who like to see the big picture, the long term. They like challenges and relish change. They use words like “revolutionary” and “cutting-edge.”

Present them with the newest, boldest, most creative products or ideas. Be unique, even daring in the way you present to them too. Paint a picture that’s big, exciting and new. Say things like, “imagine the possibilities….” Be enthusiastic.

Warning. You’ll go wrong by bogging down your presentation with too many details. And don’t schedule a meeting with this person if you’re tired and energy is flagging. This is a high-energy person who expects you to operate at the same level.

  1. The Buddy. These people have a lot of friends and nothing is more important to them than friendship. They want colleagues, customers and suppliers to be friends too. If they work with others they respect the views and opinions of the team so you’d better have the whole group assembled before you make your presentation.

They also want to feel safe in what they purchase from you. If someone has referred this customer to you – great! Don’t be surprised if they want to see your references. Testimonials from other customers, a seal of approval, and maybe even a plaque from the chamber of commerce – these things help prove your credentials with this type of person.

Loyalty runs strong with these individuals. Once they’re your customer they’ll stick with you unless something goes seriously wrong. In your presentation, use words like “relationship” and “trust.” Be warm and friendly even if it’s not your nature.

Warning: this person may not want to make a quick decision and can be turned off if pressured. Patience can pay off here.

  1. The Thinker. They used to carry slide rulers. Now they’re more likely to have hand-held calculators and computers. They value information, logic and numbers. Even minute details don’t bore them.

Do your homework before making a sales call. Know your product backwards and forwards and if you can’t memorize all the facts bring along the catalog or whatever fact sheets you have. They want to know the specifications that no other customer will care about. If there’s research, bring the findings with you.

When dealing with thinkers, never venture a guess when there is a concrete answer. Don’t say, “I think so,” when they want a “yes” or “no.” Be specific rather than using ad slogans or other generalities. Instead of mentioning the famous names who use the product or whose theories it relies on, tell exactly what the various authorities had to say. Have charts and graphs as well as facts and figures at hand.

Be patient while this person formulates a question. They probably speak slowly and methodically. Pace yourself to this slower tempo.

Warning: your biggest mistake is not to understand your product and this person’s needs or by covering up your lack of knowledge with glib come-ons. Nothing but the facts will help you make this sale.

  1. The Bottom Liner. This person wants to know about results in dollars and sense. Talk to this person about winning, reaching goals and solving problems.

Your presentation should be short and to the point. List the benefits: one, two, three. They care about getting things done fast. Charts and figures may be relevant, but keep them simple and spare them the details you’d present to the thinker. They like “turn-key” operations or contacts who can take care of the details for them. Although it’s okay to be friendly this person doesn’t have time to build a real relationship with business associates.

Warning: The worst things you can do with bottom-liners are wasting their time.

Note: some of the people you meet will be perfect examples of these types, while some will be combinations of two or more. With experience you’ll learn to modify your presentation to reach different people and communicate in a way that gets your message across. Happy Zeroing!

The author of this article is Larry Costello, President of All-American Print & Mail, 2200 Wilson Blvd #102-57, Arlington, VA 22201.