I studied psychology and am a “student of life” when seeing how people deal with different situations. I try to use what I have learned about people in the business environment.
One of the most challenging (and interesting) parts of my profession is being able to quickly figure out what kind of person I am dealing with, and how this affects my approach. In my opinion, the most savvy business people can often deduce what sort of personality they are facing with only a few cues – appearance, tone of voice, reading between the lines of a conversation, etc. To make sure of this impression, many people also research the individuals they are going to meet because, as we will see, the preparation for doing business with one sort of person can be very different than for others.
The bad news when dealing with Fact Lovers is that charm and flattery don’t work, and the deal cycle can be long as they examine all the specs and alternatives. The good news is that you can rely on your product and value proposition to sell themselves.
Chances are that the Fact Lover has already evaluated your company, so, in your first meeting, you can skip most of the basic product information. Your discussion will instead probably consist of the Fact Lover asking the questions that aren’t answered by your website, so come prepared to discuss details, distribute comprehensive literature, and maybe bring a few experts to go in-depth. You should also include as much quantitative data as possible, as opposed to, for example, customer quotes or material that looks great but is short on info.
In addition, Fact Lovers tend not to get personal and often see a really friendly business prospector as somebody who is trying to cut a deal based on charisma and not quality. Similarly, it’s better to support any statement about your product’s potential with data instead of giving the impression that it will change the world.
This person is basically the opposite of the Fact Lover. Amiable prospects look for a personal connection with their business partners instead of cold, hard information. This means a long process which will include small talk, informal meetings, and even guanxi.
On the plus side, initial meetings will focus more on basics and friendly conversations. Literature should include case studies as an opener to explain how and why your product benefitted other organizations. Expect that, during follow-up meetings, this type of prospect will bring stakeholders from across the organization to ask about details. Building a relationship with this buyer type is also an opportunity for you to present an inspiring vision not only of your product, but also of how it might transform the client’s business.
On the minus side, if you can’t establish a rapport, then the deal might not succeed. You can also bet that the Amiable prospect will not have done much preparation for the meeting, so be ready to carefully explain your value proposition, and take the role of an advisor instead of a hard driving sales machine. Finally, this prospect will be encouraged by supportive arrangements like refunds, easy cancellation policies, and your direct involvement in the process.
The more combative relative of the Fact Lover is the Pugilist. They are interested in getting to the bottom line as quickly as possible, and don’t put a lot of emphasis on personal relationships. They like to work fast and might get a kick out of challenging your pitch, even if the discussion turns into an argument. It’s therefore important to put feelings aside and concentrate on countering their inevitable criticism with your key selling points.
It takes a thick skin to make a deal with a Pugilist, but if you can handle it, then you will benefit from a relatively fast cycle to close a deal, as this personality type is deadline-driven. You can expect that they will understand the basics of your product quite quickly and want to cut to the chase rapidly. Pugilists are also competitive, and you can take advantage of this by explaining how your product will help to make your prospect the star of the company.
On the other hand, you better have your best game on, because the Pugilist will not put up with missing facts, confusing presentations, or somebody lacking in confidence. The same goes for commitments – if you don’t deliver on a promise, your relationship with a Pugilist might not last very long.
This character type combines the no-nonsense attitude of the Pugilist with the interest in personal relationships of Amiables. The driving factor behind the Loyalist’s decision is (you guessed it) loyalty, both to their firm and to their business partners. They want to make the best deal for their company, and believe that a solid partner relationship is essential for achieving this.
The distinctive elements of the Loyalist personality are that they are quick thinkers and get to the point rapidly, but want to know more about you, your company, and your support than about facts and figures. Commitment, a personal connection, and long term relationships are vital for success.
The Loyalist will judge your product based on its qualitative benefits – ease of use, resource requirements, the problem that it solves – so proving value through case studies, testimonials, and client references is the best way to go. One upside of pitching to a Loyalist is that they make quick decisions, so come prepared with all of your soft sale information to show that you are confident in the feedback of your customers. Being late or disorganized, or failing to provide rapid follow-ups or proof of your promises, will cause immediate distrust and spell the end of your relationship, despite the friendly attitude that they seem to have towards you.
The Trusty Chameleon
No, this is not a buyer personality – instead, this is you. Understanding your prospect’s personality is the first step in adjusting yours. It would be great if every company had a range of personalities to match the prospective buyer personalities, but in reality, it’s basically you and the client trying to figure each other out. It’s often compared to a dance, where both parties are required to lead and follow without stepping on each others’ toes. With experience, you’ll bring out exactly the right part of you to match what the prospect wants to see in a potential business relationship.
One final note: The way to get there may differ – some need facts, others require amicability, arguments, or loyalty – but whatever personality you work with, building a relationship that is based on trust is always key!