Customer Experience News & Trends

Match your sales style to your customer’s buying style: How to boost sales

Some salespeople undervalue the impact of behavioral styles on selling. They use the same approach in every negotiation and are surprised when they don’t get the results they expect.

An approach that works well for one prospect’s negotiating style can cause deadlock with a buyer who has a different style.

Look at things from the customer’s prospective

Top salespeople see things from the customer’s perspective and match their sales approach with the steps customers go through when making a buying decision. They know their own negotiating style as well as their prospect’s preferred style and use this knowledge to build a stronger relationship and close more sales.

They mirror the prospect’s buying process, realizing they can’t close sales until they know what the prospect wants to get and what he or she wants to avoid.

They have to know this information up front before getting too far into the sale process.

Uncover customer objectives

The problem is some prospects won’t talk in terms of objectives. Instead they talk about problems and concerns. Try to convert what they say into objectives and show how your product or service will meet the prospect’s objectives.

Here are two questions that may help you uncover customer objectives:

  • Can you give me a feel for your objectives? Look for things that include increasing performance, reducing cost, improving equality, or increasing sales and productivity.
  • What do you want to happen? Look for personal goals surrounding influence, acceptance and promotions.

Be flexible

Good salespeople know when they need to be flexible. They consciously adjust their communications, expectations and behavior to help the prospect feel more comfortable.

This process usually involves three steps:

  • Getting a clear picture of the prospect’s objectives and showing how the product or service will meet those objectives.
  • Getting a feel for the prospect’s motivation to buy to be sure that buying will lead to satisfying outcomes.
  • Getting a sense for the prospect’s behavior style and selecting a sales approach that matches the way the prospect likes to be sold.

Identify their style

Here are four characteristics that may help you identify your prospect’s preferred negotiating style and build a sales approach that leads to a win-win outcome:

  • Socializers. They are the easiest buyers to get an appointment with, and one of the most difficult to close. These buyers have a strong need to feel recognized and valued in the negotiating partnership. Because they have a strong concern for relationships, they tend to focus more on feelings and less on facts. They will often begin a negotiation with a conversation unrelated to the appointment. They are usually trusting, optimistic and committed to outcomes that benefit both parties. To build rapport with a Socializer, it’s a good idea to remain positive and solution-oriented.
  • Task Masters. They are at the opposite end of behavioral spectrum from Socializers. While Socializers are focused on the relationship with the salesperson, Task Masters are results-oriented and focused primarily on the bottom line. They tend to be impatient, have little need for detailed information, and want to move to closure quickly. Preparation is critical when negotiating with a Task Master. Know your bottom line. Be prepared and keep your interactions focused on business.
  • Analysts. If your customer appears cautious and reserved, he or she may be an Analyst. They methodically explore all options, leaving no stone unturned in their quest for a fair and economical outcome. To build rapport and gain respect from an Analyst, keep your discussions factual and business related. Demonstrate ways in which outcomes will be advantageous in terms of money, productivity, quality or delivery.
  • Chameleons. Chameleons are people who have no clear preference for one style, but use a combination of styles. They are usually personable, social and often have a sense of humor. Chameleons are also flexible, creative and open to change. They are big-picture thinkers and often have little need for details. To build rapport with Chameleons, take the time to begin the negotiation on a social note. It’s usually a good idea to be creative in your solutions and focus on coming up with a number of viable options. When you reach an agreement on the details, make sure all points are clarified before finalizing the sale.

Modify your strategy

As customers become increasingly complicated, thanks to the multitude of buying options and info available on the Internet, successful salespeople will be those who can modify their sales strategy to meet specific prospect needs and buying styles.

By getting into a prospect’s head, and finding out what they’re thinking and why, you’ll be adopting the type of customer-focused selling that will close more sales.

Adapted from “The Sales Bible,” by Jeffrey Gitomer, a sales trainer and consultant. His clients include IBM, AT&T and Coca-Cola. He writes the syndicated column, “Sales Moves,” which appears in business journals in the U.S. and Europe.

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