Monday, August 30, 2010

What Type Of Character Is Your Customer?

This article looks at the FACE model of customer types and shows how sales people can adjust their approach so they are more effective and better able to sell to the four personality types identified.

By Richard Stone

New sales people often ask their sales training tutor, “Why do I need to learn more than one sales approach?” or “Why does my approach work well with one client, but leaves the next disinterested in my product?” The answer given to such questions by the tutor is: “It’s to do with your customer’s personality!” Selling, they will be told, is the art of persuasion; it involves the sales person persuading their potential customer that what they are offering meets the customer’s needs best. Every customer will be different, that is why nothing works with every customer all of the time. To be effective your sales talk must address different customers in different ways. That is you will have to tailor your sales talk to best fit the style of the customer in front of you. An important part of your job as a professional in sales is to identify what type of customer you are selling to.

The FACE model, as taught on sales training programmes, helps us to understand the different types of customer we come across. The model analyses a person’s personality using two interacting scales of how assertive and how emotional they are. This gives rise to the four basic personality types described by the FACE model.

We all spend between 65% and 72% using one particular style and this is known as our natural style. However, no one is exclusively just one personality type and we all use the different FACE styles from time to time.

The first personality type is the ‘Friendly’ personality. These types are emotional and responsive people who are essentially led by the needs of others and are people orientated. You could imagine that selling to this type of person would be easy. They’re friendly and open, so what’s the problem? The difficulty is that they want to get on with everyone and say yes to everything. This will make them delay any decision making that might upset anyone, including upsetting the supplier. So what can be done? It’s vital to get to know this person really well. Building rapport is essential. The impact of change should be minimised, particularly if people are invloved. Place emphasis on the benifits and do not be tempted to try to rush them. Their attitude is one of “Reassure me that this is right for my colleagues and me”.

The second personality type is the ‘Analytical’ personality. Such people are described as unemotional and responsive. This type of personality is extremely wary of sales people - they can’t see that any value is being added by the sales function. As you may expect, to sell to them requires the provision of a great deal of information - therefore, preparation is critical. Like the ‘Friendly’ type, they decide slowly, so allow them time for consideration. Don’t exaggerate - that will only arouse suspicion. Be prepared to present the downside of your offer as the ‘Analytical’ considers nothing to be perfect. Remain cool, calm and factual. Present proofs if possible.

The third type of personality is the unemotional and assertive type known as the ‘Commander’. Commanders focus on time, results and action. Selling to the ‘Commander’ requires preparation. They will regard any shortfall in a presentation as sloppiness and will decide against it very quickly. Time is of the essence - If they can not see where the meeting is going, they are likely to end it. The sales person must stress the result for them and their organisation - profits first, then people. It is also criticle that the “commander” sees the salesman as a firm and decisive business partner - any hint of uncertainty will tip the scales against them.

Finally we have the ‘Extroverts’, defined as both emotional and assertive they are gregarious people who love to be at the centre of whatever’s going on. They can be huge fun to meet with but be careful that they do not take too much of your time. Keep your sales talk light and short because details bore them. They may need more attention than the other types, so you should keep in touch by phone, email or letter. Sell to extroverts by stressing the benefits of a new, different approach. But whatever you do, do it enthusiastically!

The real benefit of sales training that includes the FACE model is that by knowing how each prospect or customer thinks and acts we can alter our sales approach and so become more effective sales professionals.

Richard Stone is a Director for Spearhead Training Limited that specialises in running management and sales training courses to improve business performance. Richard provides consultancy advice for numerous world leading companies.

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