by Stu Schlackman — Originally published in the December 2016 issue of ISSA
Greg graduated from his sales school at the top of his class and eager to start his new career with computer manufacturer based in Tennessee. His strength was his ability to connect with people, and his sales manager expected much from him.
One of Greg’s first sales calls was with a prospect in Birmingham, AL, who wanted a presentation on why his computers were superior to the competition. The answer seemed an easy one for Greg, who decided to focus on what was considered his company’s unique differentiator—technology. He decided to answer with the facts believing that was what the prospect wanted to hear.
Greg’s response: “Our products can move from a PC to a mainframe and never change operating systems; saving you hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
But Greg misread the situation; that was not what the customer wanted. The real question the prospect had was “Why should I do business with you?” He wanted to get to know Greg, to build trust in him. The prospect wanted to know Greg would be there with information, answers, and help when it was needed.
Unfortunately, as is the case in most instances, sales professionals don’t get a second chance at a first impression, and Greg had lost the opportunity because he was not able to establish the relationship the prospect was seeking.
What should Greg have done? What does it take to establish a relationship with others? The first key to effectively building relationships is to identify the personality style of your prospect.
Most personality models have four styles. This one is based on colors, as it’s easy to put a face with a name and with a color. It’s also easier to remember the characteristics of a color than an acronym or a name. This said, the four personality colors are: Blue, the people person; Gold, the planner; Green, the perfectionist; and Orange, the performance-based person.
Values of Colors
One of the differentiators between the four personality styles is in what they value. As sales professional, you must adjust how you present the value of your offering based on the personality trait of your potential buyer.
Blue. For the Blue personality, relationships come first. Blues will not make a commitment until they know you and trust you. Because trust is paramount, you must never pressure Blues as they will sense your agenda and might view this as selfish on your part.
Gold. This group values commitment and follow through. Golds expect detailed information on your company and its track record. They value timeliness and a tight process. To sell to Golds, you must say what you’re going to do—and do it.
Green. Details and facts are what are valued by Greens. They will take their time to analyze every aspect of your company’s offerings and how the value equates to their future vision. Expect many questions from Greens since they are skeptical by nature.
Orange. The value for this group is winning and performing. Oranges look for immediate results and want to look good inside of their organizations. They also value relationships, but it’s based on convenience and easy-access to the sales person.
Remember the key is to connect with their style, not yours.
Communication is the next key to connecting with prospects and customers. And, as you can guess by now, each style has a different preference.
Blues ask questions about you so they can build trust. Small talk is very important and can focus on the personal side. Family, friends, and acquaintances are important to the Blue personality. Blues are also indirect in their communication, which means they will elaborate on topics during conversation. Don’t rush the communication with Blues.
Golds are more methodical and direct in their approach. Golds are excellent listeners and will balance the communication. They are structured and prefer an agenda. They also want to have a reason for the discussion and are more formal in their approach.
Greens are the analytical type; they will ask questions on the details of your products and services. Getting personal is not a priority for the Green. Understanding your offerings and how they might solve issues is their top priority. They are succinct in their approach, yet they can be indirect as they expand on the information they want to get from you. You must have facts to prove your point of view to the Green.
Oranges want to get to the bottom line. They are big-picture oriented and like to be the center of attention. Let the Orange do most of the talking. Direct in their approach, oranges will tell you exactly what they are looking for—so listen.
Communication is about balancing the conversation. Blues and Greens tend to ask questions. Golds and Oranges tend to tell or lead the conversation. As you converse with different styles, you need to be aware of what they prefer and adapt to their style.
Every sale requires a decision, so understanding when to ask for commitment is crucial and must take into consideration the style of the prospect.
Blues and Greens tend to be slower decision-makers. Give them space to decide, and when you feel it’s time to help them, ask: “What would you like to do for next steps? What else can I provide you moving forward?” Being too aggressive with these two will lose the sale.
Golds and Oranges are more decisive. It’s fine to ask these colors for a decision. Ask Golds when they plan to make the decision, and tell the Orange, you can get started today since they look for immediate benefits.
People tend to sell from their point of view. The best thing you can ever do is ask yourself, “Who am I with?” Pay attention to their words and actions. Keeping the focus on them will help you understand the approach you should take, moving you closer to the sale while setting the stage for a long-term relationship. Remember this: it’s not what customer’s buy, but why.
Stu Schlackman is a sales expert, accomplished speaker, and the author of Four People You Should Know and Don’t Just Stand There, Sell Something with more than 25 years of sales experience. For more information, please visit www.StuSchlackman.com.