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The Importance of Identifying and Understanding Buyer Personalities

In an earlier blog post, Steve Eungblut showed how important it is for sales people to be aware of their own personality. This is crucial for sales people to be able to adapt their communication style to fit their circumstances and to be aware of their own biases and blind spots. He also spoke about the importance of being able to identify and understand the personality of the buyer.

This latter ability is probably one of the most useful in the sales person’s arsenal. A proficiency in identifying and understanding your buyers’ personality will lead to a better qualification of opportunities, greater value creation, more accurate sales proposals, higher win-rates, and faster close times.

If you’re able to reliably identify and understand your buyer’s personality, then you’ll be able to ensure that information is presented to them in a way that will let them easily make use of it. In turn, this should encourage clients to make informed buying decisions regarding what you have to offer.

The best sales people seem to be able to do this almost naturally. However, for the more mortal amongst us, it helps to have a framework to use. This is especially powerful when working in teams because it will provide a reference system and a vocabulary we can use to share our thoughts and test them with others. It also helps to build a coherent contact strategy.

There are many tools and methods that are available to help diagnose and define personality types. The majority of these are based on the work of the psychologist Carl Jung. Although Jung’s research was conducted in the first half of the 20th Century, his theories have stood the test of time and are, to this day, widely regarded as being both useful and accurate.

Broadly speaking, Jung’s model shows three dimensions of personality based on: a person’s preference for being with others (Extraversion/Introversion); acquiring information (Sensing/Intuition); and coming to a decision (Thinking/Feeling). Combinations of these preferences lead to 8 possible personality types.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is probably one of the most well-known diagnostic models based on this theory – it is certainly the most rigorously researched and validated. Myers and Briggs added a further dimension based on how people prefer to act on their decisions (Judging/Perceiving). This enhancement therefore creates 16 possible type combinations.

For the sales person, there are two important aspects embedded in all this theory:

Firstly, how do you recognise the preferences of another person and secondly, how can you use that information to radically improve your win-rate as well as your value to the client?

Although it is beyond the scope of this post to provide the full picture, here are a couple of examples of how this may be achieved:

If you’re meeting with someone who talks about the finer details of their issues then it is likely that they prefer ‘Sensing’ as a way of acquiring information. If, on the other hand, they make leaps of thought or discuss the “bigger picture”, then their preference would appear to be more inclined towards ‘Intuition’. There are a whole host of visual and vocal clues that can quickly help you make an assessment of a buyer’s personality type.

The question of what to do with this information is where the real treasure lies for the sales professional. The key to this question is in the various combinations of buyer personalities.

For example, if you know that someone prefers ‘Intuition’ as a means of acquiring information and ‘Feeling’ as a way of arriving at a decision, then you can reliably infer that they will be seeking to understand the strategic value behind your proposal. Consequently, you should spend less energy on the details of how a solution will be implemented and more energy on how it will impact on people, the business as a whole (especially), and how it will fit with their value system and their customers’ needs.

Similarly, someone who has a preference for a ‘Judging’ style will be more eager to move to closure than someone with a preference for ‘Perceiving’, who will prefer to take time to think about their decisions and reflect. This is crucial information when it comes to deciding how to handle that most delicate part of the sales process, as well as forecasting close dates more accurately to your own manager.

Written by: David Vachell, Managing Director of Coley Learning

Contact Sterling Chase for a free consultation.

The Importance of Identifying and Understanding Buyer Personalities