To be a great sales person, you need to know the product or service you’re offering inside out. But that’s just the beginning. The question of whether a sale will close quickly or stall relies heavily on how you communicate with customers – each of whom will have their own ‘personal-approach needs’.
OPP recently worked with a regional sales team in a financial services organisation. The team took a forceful approach to selling, confident they knew the products and their effectiveness. It was difficult for them to slow down, listen and focus on the client’s needs – they tended to adopt a ‘push’ style, shifting quickly to plug their products before the client could get a word in edgeways!
The danger of this ‘push’ sales style is lack of rapport – even if the customer makes a purchase, it will not build longer term relationships. There is increasing recognition that businesses need to become trusted advisors rather than pushing solutions and few can afford to squander good client relationships.
Any method that provides insight into a customer’s personality and helps you flex your own style is therefore going to make it easier to foster longer-term relationships. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) can be extremely useful here, shedding light on your own preferred behaviours, and identifying the likely needs of your customers.
The MBTI personality questionnaire captures fundamental differences in people’s character. And the type theory, on which the MBTI is based, is highly effective in driving performance in a wide range of personal and management development arenas, such as leadership, teambuilding, and communication. It can enable you to fully understand your own instinctive approach to sales as well as approaches to developing rapport and anticipating what different customers might want to know, effectively giving you the tools to ‘speak their language’.
It should go without saying that if a sales technique is working, you should stick to it. But there are usually some situations where your favoured approach lets you down. In these circumstances you can consult your personal type framework and try flexing your style!
The MBTI-based approach comes into its own in situations where the customer-seller relationship is not shaping up well. It can be all too tempting to ‘turn up the volume’ on your usual approach, but in fact you’re likely to be more effective if you try some alternative approaches. Everyone is different; customers will not necessarily react to a situation the same way as you would.
Recognising and adapting your style can help prevent frustration and impatience, giving the sale a second chance. By understanding your own preferences, you can control your instinctive reactions, and understand the customer’s point of view. You may even begin to see problems coming, and avert them before they become a blocker to the sale.
This approach isn’t about being manipulative or inauthentic, it’s simply a case of knowing yourself better. For example, if you enjoy talking and exploring issues, you may struggle to provide space for others to speak; and while this insight won’t automatically make you listen more, it does help you focus your efforts.
Even in the digital age, people still respond best to a personal approach. Adding an understanding of personality and communication preferences can make this personalisation even more powerful and persuasive. You have more information available to you about each customer, and can use this to tailor your approach in every conversation.
Becoming an expert in sales-focused personality frameworks takes a little time. However, the basics are easy to grasp, and MBTI-based insights are a great stepping stone to using a type framework to your advantage. If it’s going to make you more successful, what’s not to like?
Penny Moyle, CEO, OPP Ltd, leader in workplace psychology and European distributor of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Using its personality tools alongside tailored training and coaching programmes, OPP helps sales professionals develop their communications skills, for more successful long-term relationships.