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3 Approach by adapting social style.

The next two chapters explore the approach stage of the sales process, which facilitates development of a rapport with the buyer. This chapter begins by explaining the importance of identifying and adapting to the social styles of customers and follows with effective strategies for coping with each social style and customizing the sales presentation as necessary.

Social Styles

A key success factor in personal selling is adaptive selling, which means responding to customer needs by altering the content approach of the sales presentation. (1) That is, adaptive selling is the ability to use different sales approaches in different situations, and the ability to alter the sales approach based on a reassessment during the sales situation. Salespeople possessing adaptive skills are able to develop a rapport with a wide variety of customers and deal effectively with a diversity of sales situations.

Knowledge about customers and the selling situation are key to effective adaptation. To use this knowledge effectively, the wise salesperson categorizes information about customers by using the social style grid, as shown in Figure 3-1. This highly useful categorization method was initially created by David Merrill and Roger Reid. (2) By using this grid, you can recognize the most effective method of communicating with the customer and define the best approach for a sales presentation.


It is important to recognize that social styles are not gender-specific and no one social style is better than another. Each social style has its good attributes. It is the job of the salesperson to recognize the social style of the customer and to adapt his or her own social style to the preferred communication style of the customer. That is, salespeople must routinely change how they communicate so that they are communicating with each individual prospect as though they share a common social style with the prospect. The most effective consultants and salespeople rarely claim, "I have a winning style." They think not in terms of a single selling style to suit all types of customers, but in terms of developing and using a repertoire of different selling styles to suit different customer types, needs, and styles. They not only sell themselves and their products or services; they sell their prospect. In the following sections, each of the social styles is described in some detail, and suggestions are given on how to both recognize and communicate with individuals who follow each social style.

Amiable Type

Overview. The amiable type is a visionary who places high value on ideas, innovations, concepts, theories, and long-range thinking. "Amiables" tend to derive their greatest satisfaction from the world of possibilities. In essence, amiables tend to be somewhat more stimulated and personally rewarded by efforts in problem-solving, rather than in implementing solutions. They often reveal an excellent imagination. Amiables tend to question themselves and others. They are not, therefore, accustomed to taking things for granted. They often seem to have an uncanny ability to anticipate or to project--to "know" prior to many others' knowing. Amiables usually resent being placed in situations where they are, in any sense, "hemmed in" or required to think or operate in a structured, well-defined manner. Amiables enjoy creating their own structure out of disorder; they excel in integrative tasks and situations demanding a long-term view.

amiables tend to be inward looking. That is, they enjoy drawing meaning from imagination. What they see and know to be most real is frequently seen by others as unreal and often "impractical." However, amiables' imaginative input serves as a catalyst for the thinking of those around them. Amiables are future-oriented and are typically less interested in what has been done in the past. In essence, they tend to live and derive satisfaction in terms of the future.

amiables are interested in developing personal relationships with others. These relationships are sought to reduce the risk amiables feel when required to make decisions. That is, amiables feel that a person who is a friend will not misdirect them, so they will be able to depend on this "friend" to provide accurate information and to assist them in the decision-making process. Because of the amiables' interest in people and relationships, the amiable generally dislikes conflict, and is very interested in ensuring that everyone is in consensus prior to making a decision.

When amiables are at their best, they will be seen as leaders and visionaries--they can cut through the smoke screens of tradition or past practices and focus on the crux of the situation. They are usualy able to see profitable new directions or solutions of great value that others have missed. The amiable frequently brings up fresh and novel approaches and ideas. At their worst, amiables may be seen as "long on vision; short on action." amiables are individuals who may avoid some of the tedious nitty-gritty, and are not always comfortable making decisions. Often, they must be so convinced of the power and value of their insights and contributions that they may not see the necessity of documenting or detailing these contributions to the satisfaction of others. Indeed, at times, the amiable may seem quite impatient and irritated with others who demand detailed evidence or do not see the value of his or her ideas as he or she does.

Among amiable types we frequently find scientists, researchers, artists, professors, writers, corporate planners, and good "idea people." In community life, the amiable often may be encountered playing active roles on boards, task forces, planning committees, or agency leadership groups. Regardless of his or her job, a person who extensively employs the amiable style is stimulated by intellectual and creative problem-solving endeavors.

Initial Contact. When attempting to first establish contact with an amiable, write a letter to the amiable emphasizing your reliability, experience, and the quality of your service or product. Follow up with a phone call. The amiable may also be amenable to "cold" telephone contact. The amiable's secretary may ask for identification, but will not screen intensively. For openers with the amiable, you should use a referral by an acquaintance or you should pinpoint a researched need. If the amiable is busy, he or she may suggest calling you back or that you make an appointment with the secretary for a meeting. If the amiable accepts the phone call, the amiable may not be especially time-conscious. The amiable may be apt to consume your time in expansive conversation, but be difficult to pin down to practical, specific details that help you advance the sale. Amiables are often soft-spoken, so be prepared to speak more softly. Come across as friendly, candid, and casual.

Recognizing the amiable. The Amiable may have his or her secretary show you in, and be waiting for you, but appear preoccupied. If the amiable is concerned with surroundings, the office may be imaginative--decorated with new-wave furnishings and decor, including abstract paintings. If unconcerned, the office may be relatively unadorned. Futuristic books (e.g., science fiction) and periodicals may be handy. There may be citations for idealistic works--community service or other causes. The amiable may not be especially well organized.

As in other areas, the amiable's manner of dress may be hard to predict. The amiable may look like the absent-minded professor, caring little for clothes or the manner in which he or she presents him or herself. Also, the amiable may have an imaginative self-concept that leads to creation of his or her own style which, depending on his or her taste, may range from stunning to outlandish.

Sales Strategies for the amiable. The Amiable is intellectually interested, and responds well to research. If the amiable has had work published, you should be familiar with what writing exists, and what it is about. Learn the amiable's interests both in and out of business and attempt to familiarize yourself with them. The amiable may not expect you to be conversant about his or her interests, but would welcome acknowledgment that you know of them.

The amiable is most responsive to low-pressure, factual presentations combined with imaginative suggestions that may catch his or her fancy. Letters, reports and other messages play into his or her creativity and fascination with abstract concepts. On the other hand, the amiable welcomes not too-detailed suggestions focused on practical concerns that he or she may not have the tolerance to spell out. The amiable is least responsive to minute, practical details, past history; and mundane present concerns.

In selling to an amiable, be well grounded in facts about your proposal; you should be able to relate it to the larger picture that may be proposed by your prospect. Offer the amiable a practical plan for accepting your proposal. Since the amiable may lack interest in practical matters, the amiable may not grasp their usefulness or how to implement them. Try to figure out the mundane detail work that will allow him or her to easily accept your proposal. Allow sufficient latitude for the amiable to toy with what you propose and how it may link to his or her own schemes. Ask for the amiable's opinion. Also, be prepared to find ties to practical concerns to expedite your proposal, since the amiable may very well spend the entire time on abstract matters, and may never get down to business. You may find it necessary to continue to guide the amiable back to your concerns, and--without frustrating or boring him or her--aim toward a practical conclusion. Be sure to state the benefits of your proposal.

When presenting to the amiable, watch for objections out of intolerance for detail. You may be called on to guide your prospect past these barriers and offer workable solutions that do not involve the amiable too heavily in minutia. If possible, find a subordinate of the amiable's with whom you can work out the minute details of your proposal. If the amiable's objections are substantive, prepare to support your contentions with data.

Also, look for means of tying your assertions to plans the amiable may have for future development. Offer enough data so that the amiable can draw favorable, substantive conclusions. As you become more familiar with the amiable's interests, look for new ways of likening your proposal to his or her future-oriented plans and needs. Finally, begin to give the amiable practical guidelines to follow. Set a comfortable deadline when you can make final arrangements; then, make those easy enough to deal with so that the amiable will not feel bogged down in detail. Remember, the amiable is not comfortable making decisions and will need both time and personal assurances from you. Assumptive closes are very effective with amiables. For a synthesis of the preceding discussion see Figure 3-2, Strategies for Dealing with the amiable.

Analytical Type

Overview. The analytical type is an individual who places high value on logic, ideas, and systematic inquiry. That is, the "analyticals" find satisfaction in identifying a problem, developing a variety of possible solutions, weighing them carefully, and testing them to see to it that the most logical systematic approach is followed. Consequently, analyticals are very "number-oriented."

Analyticals typically function in a steady, tenacious manner. Analyticals rely on their observations and rational principles while avoiding emotionalism and speculation. Analyticals often convey skepticism toward novel departures from what has been proven in the past--at least until such ideas or plans or programs have been thoroughly analyzed, tested, and reviewed in the light of other possible alternatives. Analyticals are often quite skeptical of their own initial reactions and formulations as well as those of others. Therefore, analyticals frequently would rather "sleep on" a new idea and review it carefully before taking a position or making a commitment. Analyticals consciously avoid going off "half-cocked" or being swept along by the needs of the moment.
Figure 3-2 Strategies for Dealing with the amiable

Initial Contact

1. Send a personal letter. State who you are, why you are writing, your
purpose in contacting the amiable. Stress your reputation, your
reliability, your experience, the quality of your product and service,
your follow through, your thoroughness.

2. Follow your letter with a personal phone call. Take time to be
friendly, open, honest, sincere, and establish trust in the

Developing Rapport

1. Be on time.

2. Use time initially to establish the relationship.

3. Be prepared to share personal information about yourself.

4. Demonstrate that you are personally interested in the amiable.

5. Demonstrate that you want to understand the amiable's personal

6. Feel free to engage in small talk before getting down to business.


1. Ask open-ended questions initially.

2. Make an effort to draw out the amiable's personal goals.

3. Ask how the amiable feels about the facts.

4. Listen responsively--give plenty of verbal/nonverbal feedback.

5. Ask "what," and "when" questions to clarify the amiable's goals.

6. Summarize the amiable's key concerns and feelings.


1. Define clearly in writing what you will do to support the amiable's
personal objectives.

2. Define what you and the amiable will need to contribute to reach the

3. Provide a clear solution to the amiable's problem(s).

4. Provide maximum guarantees and assurances that your solution will
work in this case.

5. Show how your solution is best now and will be best in the future.

6. Explain features and benefits by telling "why."

7. Use third-party references wherever possible.


1. Ask for the order indirectly.

2. Don't push the amiable. Don't be overly assertive.

3. Emphasize guarantees and how the amiable is protected.

4. Don't corner the amiable. (Amiables want a way out if things go

5. Get a commitment, even if it is based on a contingency.

6. Stress your personal involvement in follow-up services.

7. Try to avert the amiable's natural inclination to seek advice from
others before signing.

8. Welcome objections and be patient and thorough in answering them.

9. Refer to experts wherever possible in third-party references.

10. Remember how the amiable feels and how he or she will be affected
by the buying decision.

Analyticals very often are seen as consistent producers--logical "results getters" as opposed to people who are primarily visionaries or idea people. Thus, analyticals may often be valued for their prudence and thoughtful analysis rather than for their skill in mobilizing the enthusiasm of others. Analyticals are frequently sought out by others for the value of their objectivity and their cool thinking under pressure.

When analyticals are at their best, they may be seen as a consistent force for progress--topflight thinkers as well as doers. Analyticals will be seen as people who can cut through the smoke screens of untested ideas and emotional fervor. Frequently, analyticals can be highly effective in organizing themselves and others to research and plan. Hence, analyticals are of great assistance in executing logical, painstaking, and profitable projects.

At their worst, analyticals may be seen as rigid, overly cautious, and conservative--individuals who at times may emphasize deliberation to the de-emphasis of action. Analyticals may become so involved in weighing, testing, researching, and checking, that others perceive them as indecisive. Sometimes analyticals will be seen as stumbling blocks to actions that represent departures from tradition. When analyticals try to deal with change, basing actions on rational principles, analyticals may sometimes be viewed as rigid and dogmatic. For the aforementioned reasons, analyticals may be criticized for being mechanistic or impersonal. Often, at their worst, analyticals are accused of being overly cautious, overly methodical or overly logical. Sometimes people see analyticals as nonspontaneous or "dry" and "cold."

Analyticals typically tend to look at time from all dimensions--past, present, and future, which are seen as equally important. Analyticals typically are less concerned with making the so-called dramatic breakthrough than in correctly and consistently relating a present course of action to both the past and the future. Among analytical types are frequently found lawyers, engineers, scientists, technicians, professors, teachers, financially-oriented business personnel, systems analysts, electronic data processing specialists, and accountants.

Initial Contact. Initial contact with analyticals is best conducted through written communication. Compose a letter identifying your product, your expertise, and stressing the value of your product or service. Of all types, analyticals are least responsive to "cold" contact. Analyticals may suggest through a secretary that you write a letter outlining full details in a proposal, then pursue an orderly follow-up. If analyticals do take the phone, they may seem relatively distant. Analyticals may also ask particulars, seek proof for what you state, and ask for information on your product, company, and you. Analyticals will pin you down to facts and figures, and are inclined to make decisions based on data rather than personal contact. If you find this happening, your major task will be to interest analyticals in exploring data that you must present in person. Try to determine the kinds of information analyticals want; use that knowledge to generate face-to-face contact. Prepare a written proposal that presents the desired information in a step-by-step format. Remember, the analytical is most responsive to full documentation, well-organized statements of facts, supporting information, and elaboration of detailed plans. Analyticals are least responsive to puffery, pressure, vagueness, anecdotal material, inexact assertions, and nonsubstantive promotional generalities.

Recognizing the Analytical. Analyticals are inclined to formalities, and are very businesslike. Analyticals will be conservatively dressed--tailored and functionally neat. Analyticals will be prompt, and will have a secretary come and get you. Analyticals' businesslike surroundings are simple, perhaps sterile. Furnishings may be tasteful but conventional, and they are apt to have charts of business projects and other data displayed for easy use. Analyticals may have a considerable library of reports, reference works, data collections, government surveys, computer printouts, business studies, and comparison reports of his or her own and related businesses, but few human touches. The analytical's office and desk will be very orderly or neat, apt to contain files of data, computer printouts, and reference works. Of all types, Analyticals are most inclined toward recordkeeping.

Sales Strategies for the Analytical. Your analytical prospects may be inclined to formality and caution. Analyticals also may keep the interview at a fairly impersonal level. They do not want to be overwhelmed by pressure. Your best gambit is to offer the analytical as much background material and research data they want to see so that the they can draw their own conclusions. Analyticals will likely request fine details as a means of making comparisons with other proposals. You should provide well-organized, complete plans that include reasoned, sound suggestions for their implementation. Don't attempt to "snow" analyticals with tales of success or glowing reports of satisfied customers. Analyticals are not likely to jump on the bandwagon and may be put off by such tactics. You should strive to be precise in your discussion and to present factual alternatives.

Primarily, when selling to analyticals, let the facts speak for themselves. If the analyticals question your data, offer to research more. Make sure that analyticals know you understand the need for checking things out. If analyticals show you areas in which you cannot match the competition, you are better off admitting it than trying to make assertions you cannot prove. Analyticals will respect you more if you sharpen your plus items, and offer yours as a more advantageous total package. Watch for objections based on skepticism over vague sales points. Suggest contingency plans that will demonstrate your desire to give your best offer.

Let your proposal work for you in gaining analyticals' confidence, overcoming their caution and indecisiveness. When analyticals have reviewed enough facts and figures, and you sense that principal objections have been met, look to guide the sale toward a subliminal close. Suggest a "trial" test of your product/service so that the analyticals can conduct their own research. When the trial is complete, ask for the order directly. For a handy reference, see Strategies for Dealing with the Analytical in Figure 3-3.

Expressive Type

Overview. The expressive type places high value on human interaction. "Expressives" seek and enjoy the stimulation of contact with others and typically try to understand and analyze their own emotions and those of others. Expressives' concern for people, and understanding of them, usually makes them quite astute in "reading between the lines" about what people say and do.

Expressives are likely to be perceived as dynamic and stimulating. In particular, they are likely to be "warm" and closely in touch with others. Expressives are usually able to function in ways that demonstrate the ability to be sensitive to the needs and wants of others. Expressives are able to note discrepancies between speech and expression or between outward behavior and inner feeling. Expressives are sensitive to their own motives and those of others. For the aforementioned reasons, expressives often are seen as perceptive and insightful.

At their best, expressives are likely to be skilled in communication and patient, practical listeners and observers. They can often read and assess organizational politics with accuracy and insight. Expressives are people who can position and see change in ways that reduce resisting forces "before the fact" and thus increase the likelihood of cooperation, teamwork, and progress. Furthermore, expressives are frequently sought out for their ability to listen and empathize, and for their patience and forbearance in carrying assistance to others experiencing troubles or crises in their lives. At their worst, expressives may be seen as having much less interest in developing concepts, plans, or programs (or in systematically getting them to function) than they have in analyzing, communicating, and interpreting whatever is taking place. Many will see expressives as people who rely less on logic and thought than on "gut feel" or the way people and things emotionally "strike" them. Expressives seem to take their own emotional reactions, and what they infer that others feel, as representing "fact." Consequently, expressives frequently act on the basis of their feelings about things. Some may see expressives as defensive and over-reactive, and others may criticize expressives for subjectivity and emotionalism, which many may see as a substitute for action. Expressives may be perceived as intriguers who, in their well-intended efforts to draw others out, tend to fan latent emotional sparks into real fires, all the while seeming disappointed if others do not share their concerns about the importance of feeling as the necessary cornerstone for meaningful action and change.
Figure 3-3 Strategies for Dealing with the Analytical

Initial Contact

1. Send a personal letter first. Provide specific product/service
information, details about yourself, your company, your credentials as
a technical expert. Stress how your product works, how it will be cost
effective, your stability, your experience.

2. Follow letter with a phone call. Be businesslike, indicate the time
you will need with the analytical, what you will bring to the meeting,
how you will work with the analytical. Establish your competency based
on your knowledge and technical expertise.

Developing Rapport

1. Be on time.

2. Show evidence that you have done your homework on the analytical's
situation and possible needs.

3. Offer evidence of your problem-solving/analysis expertise.

4. Focus your attention on the analytical's needs.

5. Be deliberate.

6. Be ready to answer questions the analytical may have about you, your
company, and your professional expertise.


1. Ask specific, factual questions.

2. Take detailed notes.

3. Ask "how" and "what" questions.

4. Encourage analyticals to discuss their feelings.

5. Be thorough, unhurried.

6. Summarize feedback the analytical has indicated is important. Be
prepared to listen to additional details on these matters of


1. Provide a detailed written analysis of your solution.

2. The written proposal should be well-organized, logical, systematic,
and practical.

3. Your proposal should stress how your solution will solve the
analytical's problem.

4. If you cannot answer a question specifically, offer to find the
correct answer, and get back to the analytical with it.

5. Be reserved but not cold.

6. Avoid using emotional appeals.

7. Use specific examples. Recommend a specific course of action.


1. Ask for the order directly (in a low-key manner).

2. Use your standard order form or contract.

3. Expect to negotiate challenges and detail changes.

4. When answering objections, respond to the analytical's buying
principles and objectivity.

Expressives are more oriented to the past than to other dimensions of time. It is the ability to draw on past experience and emotional interplay that makes expressives feel they can make the present meaningful to themselves or to others.

Among expressive types, one frequently finds entertainers, salesmen, writers, teachers, public relations specialists, nurses, social service workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, secretaries, retail businessmen, and realtors. Regardless of the job, individuals who extensively employ the expressive style are attracted by jobs or situations in which social-interpersonal contacts with others are highly likely.

Initial Contact. In establishing initial contact with expressives, you should forego written communication for a personal visit or a telephone call. You will find expressives to be the most responsive of all types to "cold" telephone or personal contact. Also, expressives will be most responsive to warmth, personalization, references to friends and acquaintances, and referral by someone they know. In regards to these references and referrals, the expressive will seek to know more about your relationship or connectedness with these people. If possible, refer to an acquaintance or friend who may use your product or service. Ideally, have that person set up the initial contact. Expressives may not be time-conscious and will often be late for meetings, so be prepared and do not schedule another appointment too close to your appointment with expressives. You need to make allowances for expressives' lateness and for their need to develop a relationship.

Expressives' secretaries may seem to have little difficulty connecting you with the prospects. Because expressives want to develop friendships, expressives are likely to grant you a meeting even if they are not especially interested in your product or service. In fact, expressives will be amenable to informal meetings--like lunch. You may be misled by this casual, friendly contact into expecting an easy sale; therefore, you are apt to prepare a low-key sales presentation when a harder line is really in order. The reality is that your time may be wasted on someone who has considerable curiosity and will look at all of the alternatives just to see what the market is like.

During the sales call, expressives will likely provide anecdotes and will expect you to do the same. Be prepared to tell stories about yourself. Keep in mind that expressives are least responsive to impersonal facts, figures, and details.

Recognizing the Expressive. The decor of expressives' offices are apt to be warm and colorful, and will be personalized with many mementos, photos of family and friends, meaningful knickknacks, and souvenirs. Citations for community or other social involvement may be displayed. Books of interest to expressives may include personal accounts and autobiographies, along with business-oriented materials. Expressives' dress may be casual, colorful, and perhaps flamboyant. Of all types, expressives are most apt to care how they appear--expressives may try to make an impression or a statement. Expressives may work for differing effects depending on mood and the people with whom they plan to be meet. Expressives are inclined to take time, if at all possible, learning about you and what you have to say. Expressives are also impulsive, and may make surprisingly rapid, incalculable decisions.

Sales Strategy for the Expressive. You should use your contacts with expressives. It is a good policy to relate how you were of service to someone the expressives know--expand the incident into a discussion of possible benefits to this sales situation. Hard facts may be in order, but expressives will be interested in who told you about them. Also, expressives will be inclined to use references you give to check results elsewhere, as this provides a legitimate reason to initiate contact with new people or old friends. Offer to put expressives in touch with satisfied customers with whom you have worked; expressives will respond to case histories of successful use. Expressives will be interested in anecdotes about product use and historical accounts of its progress.

You should attempt to link your product/service to people applications. That is, explain how you can help expressives solve problems for the people about whom they are concerned. Look for ways of establishing a climate of friendliness. Expressives may enjoy accepting a lunch or golf date to continue discussions. If you can, learn of their interests and relate to them; expressives appreciate the personalized approach.

During the presentation, make certain that you answer expressives' objections, and that you build a climate of warmth and trust. Try to demonstrate your efforts to cooperate and point out that you have expressives' best interests in mind, and that what you propose will be good for them as well as for the company. Solicit expressives' advice in helping you determine the best means of suiting your proposal to their needs, and ask for cooperation in setting up the final plan. Use an indirect or assumptive close to gain commitment from expressives. For a handy reference guide, see Strategies for Dealing with the Expressive in Figure 3-4.

Driver Type

Overview. The driver type places high value on action. "Drivers" thrive on getting things done here and now, without unnecessary and time-consuming deliberations. Drivers want to implement whatever they believe should be done and see the specific actions of others as better indicators of their commitments than any other response. Drivers engage in activities that provide opportunities for concrete, tangible, and immediate feedback. Drivers are likely, consequently, to express direct, down-to-earth, energetic approaches to work and life. Drivers never wish to "spin their wheels" worrying about the past, nor try to "crystal ball" the future. Drivers believe that if everyone else digs in their heels today, and gives the maximum effort toward meaningful goals, things will get done better and sooner.
Figure 3-4 Strategies for Dealing with the Expressive


1. Since letters are impersonal, the expressive may not take time to
read them. Generally, a phone call is most appropriate. If you decide
to write a letter, make it short, personal (telling who you are, who
you know, why you're interested in the expressive).

2. Your phone call to the expressive should be open, friendly,
stressing quick benefits, personal service, your experience, the
experience of others.


1. Be on time (but don't always expect the expressive to be punctual).

2. Take time to develop the personal relationship based on openness
and trust.

3. Feel free to engage in small talk.

4. Tell stories about people.

5. Talk about the expressive's personal interests.

6. Share your own feelings and enthusiasms.


1. Probe for factual data you need for problem solving.

2. Use direct "who," "what," and "how" questions.

3. Listen responsively, giving plenty of nonverbal and verbal feedback
to the expressive.

4. Show interest in and support of the expressive's goals.

5. Attempt to gain specifics from the expressive.

6. Summarize your findings, keeping the expressive's goals clearly in


1. Be specific and factual.

2. Don't overwhelm the expressive with details.

3. When possible, use third-party stories to support your proposal.

4. Offer incentives for quick action if possible.

5. Take time to develop ideas for implementation.

6. Try to get agreement/commitment to action in writing.

7. Don't rush the discussion, but try to keep it goal-directed.


1. Assume the sale.

2. Offer price break, value-added, or other incentives for immediate
purchase when possible.

3. Answer objections with third-party stories or short case histories
to show how others have overcome this same objection.

4. Get the order in writing.

5. Reaffirm your personal relationship with a personal follow-up.

Because the drivers' approaches are action-oriented and down to earth, they frequently are valued as driving forces within an organization. Drivers are seen as individuals who can be constructively relentless in the pursuit of measurable and high-quality results. Drivers are often sought out for their drive, and ability to translate ideas into products, sales, and profits.

Basically, drivers are doers, people who move ahead resourcefully and determinedly--overcoming sometimes seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Drivers thrive on working on a wide variety of projects and tasks at once, and yet often to others demonstrate what seems to be incredible attention to detail. Drivers feel comfortable committing to undertakings or even to other preliminary steps, however, only after they have been able to prove to themselves that the proposed action is likely to work. Drivers tend not to respect an idea until they have personally seen it translated into something practical and workable. If drivers cannot understand a proposed action in terms of their direct experience (who will do what; how; for what purpose; how will we know it is accomplished?), they may find it difficult or undesirable to proceed further with the matter. This reaction is because drivers tend to learn best, not on a conceptual or theoretical basis, but on the basis of immediate, direct, personal experience.

Drivers will usually be seen as decisive. Because drivers are impatient and non-indulgent of what they perceive as wasted time, they make rapid decisions. Quick decision-making is important to drivers because acting is one of their primary means of relieving anxiety or preventing wasted time from occurring. When there is indecision, drivers want to do something and are inclined to take action, even if only on a trial basis, to see if it works and, if so, how. Drivers tend to be impatient, and may frequently interrupt the conversation of others to get to the point. They dislike anecdotal material or minute detail that seems to cloud the issue or not get to the purpose of the discussion.

Drivers expect promptness, but may be late themselves because of their attempts to do more than they have time to accomplish. Drivers want you to state your case briefly, taking as little of time as is necessary to reach a decision. Loyalty is important to drivers, but drivers are likely to construe loyalty as a degree to which others agree with them and help them (even when they think the driver is wrong).

At their best, drivers are likely to be seen as dynamos--"herculean" workers who, once having committed to a task, will move mountains to make the undertaking a success. drivers are seen as growth-oriented, resourceful, well-organized, pragmatic, and hard-driving. Drivers usually impose high standards of utility on themselves and others. To this degree, drivers are likely to be seen as constructively impatient or tireless, doers par excellence. However, drivers may be seen as failing to consider sufficiently the long-range consequences of actions. That is, drivers may be seen as so action-oriented that they "short-circuit" significant steps in the planning process. In a sense, sometimes drivers dispense with caution and analysis in a cavalier fashion. Drivers can be criticized for imposing their expectations for drive, high speed, and zealousness onto others. At their worst, drivers tend to overemphasize short-term results and to act impulsively, trying to drive others to their will, rather than adopting strategies based on the concepts, plans, or feeling of others.

Among driver types, one frequently finds engineers, construction workers, bankers, market and financial analysts, military strategists, insurance managers, wholesalers, craftsmen, models, businessmen--particularly successful entrepreneurs as well as their secretaries--medical technicians, airline pilots, professional athletes, and physicians. Regardless of their job, individuals who extensively employ the driver style tend to be pragmatic and enjoy making things happen.

Initial Contact. Drivers, along with analyticals, may be difficult to contact "cold." However, you should still make the initial contact by telephone as an introductory letter may not be read. Drivers' secretaries may be trained to ask specific details and to be brief. The secretary may ask as a matter of form that you send a letter stating your interests, then follow up. If the prospects get on the phone, they may seem brusque or matter-of-fact. Drivers will expect to hear a plan resulting in an immediate benefit and will relate to how you have helped others in similar situations. Drivers will not be preoccupied with research in the matter, but rather with results. If interested, drivers will quickly arrive at a meeting time, and may tell you that they have little time to spare. Drivers do not respond to lengthy explanations or citations of data because of their impatience and sense of time pressure. If drivers say they are satisfied with a competitive supplier of the product/service you offer, try to buy time so that they do not end contact altogether. You should offer to send a letter with specific recommendations and take the initiative of a later follow-up. Drivers respond well to repeated contact as long as it does not weigh too seriously on their busy schedule. It may be best to approach drivers in "small doses."

Recognizing the Driver. Drivers will have a secretary show you into the office. Drivers may be conversing with someone, or on the phone when you appear. Drivers are inclined to be offhand, relatively abrupt, and matter-of-fact. Drivers want reports that are well organized, brief, and easy to scan for critical facts because they stay informed by quickly skimming material. Drivers' offices are most likely to have functional surroundings, and less likely to have collections of books and reports than the other social styles. However, it is more apt to be surrounded by clutter--several projects that they are in the midst of at once, and have too little time to get them all done. Drivers may be inclined toward decorations and photos that express action--mounted fishing or hunting trophies or racing prints.

In terms of dress, comfort is important to drivers. Therefore, drivers are inclined to simplicity, clothes that require little attention. If drivers bother, they may have an eye for color and quality. Sales Strategies for the Driver. Results-oriented, drivers will be interested in where and how your proposal has worked for others, and how you can demonstrate that it will work for them. Drivers are susceptible to persuasion, have highly developed competitive sense, and will enjoy an effective sales pitch. Drivers want to hear brief, convincing points, and will be impressed with figures, but will not be especially interested in looking over quantities of data. Show drivers facts that can be grasped quickly and easily. Provide the bottom-line first, then work backward to the facts that support this final result.

Drivers will be impressed by dynamism, a no-nonsense approach, and a proposal that will make your point succinctly in a short amount of time. Keep in mind that drivers are not long on patience; be prepared to offer substantiating evidence after they have helped you make a fuller appraisal of needs. Interview drivers about what those needs might be; and offer to bring in whatever material the drivers require to corroborate your statements. Demonstrate that you have no intention of wasting their time, but are interested in giving the drivers exactly what they want so that they can make a decision on this matter. You should offer to return another time with information to buttress your contentions and to supply information drivers seek. Take the initiative in planning the next step. In all cases, make it simple for the drivers to alleviate any doubts they may have. Be prepared with positive suggestions for relieving pressures.

Drivers make decisions. If you are convincing in what you propose, and can offer evidence to substantiate it, drivers will likely decide in short order what they want to do. If you can show that you know your business, and offer drivers an easy way to work with you, drivers are more likely to decide in favor of your firm. Use a direct close with drivers. For an overview of this discussion, see Strategies for Dealing with the Driver in Figure 3-5.
Figure 3-5 Strategies for Dealing with the Driver


1. Drivers may not take time to read an introductory letter. You may
prefer to make your first contact by phone, followed by a letter. The
letter should confirm time and date of appointment and include any
materials the driver may ask to review prior to the meeting.

2. The phone call to the driver should be businesslike and to the
point. Take only enough time to identify yourself, explain your
product/service and ask for an appointment.


1. Be on time. Drivers value punctuality and efficient use of their

2. Establish your competency with factual evidence of your professional

3. Use factual evidence to establish the soundness of your company and
your product/service.

4. Be personable but reserved, relatively formal.

5. Focus your attention on the driver's ideas and objectives.

6. Listen carefully and provide factual answers to questions.


1. Ask, don't tell.

2. Keep your questions factual, results oriented.

3. Use open-ended questions to allow the driver alternative ways of

4. Phrase "feeling" questions in terms of results/consequences.

5. Listen carefully, selectively.

6. Support the driver's conclusions.

7. Summarize by feeding back your understanding of the driver's


1. Offer options and probabilities.

2. Be specific and factual without overwhelming with details.

3. Compare alternative solutions and their probable outcomes.

4. Let the driver choose his or her course of action.

5. Be accurate, clear, concise.


1. Ask for the order directly.

2. Offer options.

3. Have an alternative proposal ready.

4. Be prepared to negotiate, modify your proposal.

5. Think through possible objections in advance and be prepared to
answer them with facts.

6. Answer objections in ways that respond to the driver's ideas,
objectives, and conclusions.

If you fail to adapt your social style to that of your customer, you may be perceived in a less than flattering light. This section discusses interactions between the various social styles and how each social style perceives the other if the appropriate adaptation does not take place.

If your social style is AMIABLE, the ANALYTICAL is likely to regard your approach as too broad-brush, abstract, "far-out," untested, a radical departure from the past, flaunting tradition, blue-sky, and insufficiently documented. Similarly, you may "turn off" the EXPRESSIVE who is likely to regard your approach as intellectualized, theoretical, unintelligible, "okay from a book standpoint, not for our people," too complex, lacking in structure, unspecific as to people terms, threatening, and something "we're not ready for." Finally, you may distance the DRIVER who is likely to regard your sales approach as "pie in the sky," idealistic, puffery, free-form, not useful (even if it happens to be right), an egotistical trip, and typical of ivory-tower thinking.

If your social style is ANALYTICAL, the AMIABLE is likely to regard your typical approach as pedantic, cautious, lacking vision, belabored, repetitious, overly responsive to immediate constraints, unimaginative, a slight refinement "when what we really need is a new way of thinking," conservative, and overly locked into tradition and past practice. You may also annoy the EXPRESSIVE who is likely to regard your approach as mechanistic, cut and dried, lacking enthusiasm, playing it safe, numerical, over-structured, lacking spontaneity, too formal, lacking a light touch, tradition-bound, fearful, defensive, overly test-oriented, and more concerned with form and your own image than in bringing about a real breakthrough. Lastly, you may offend the DRIVER who is likely to regard your approach as unnecessarily complicated; too research-oriented and insufficiently action-oriented; overly analytical--insufficiently geared to the bottom line; hedging and avoiding a specific commitment to when, what, how much, etc.; too locked into "if this, then that ...;" lacking "guts;" and too much by the book.

If your social style is EXPRESSIVE, the AMIABLE is likely to regard your approach as worrisome, overactive, lacking in vision, too concerned with the feelings of "others who demonstrate faulty judgment themselves," superficial; lacking conceptual underpinnings, too concerned with politics, emphasizing "stop-gap" or "pro temp" solutions, relying on gimmicks, and opportunistic. The ANALYTICAL is likely to regard your sales approach as impulsive; slapdash; insufficiently thought through, not researched; relying on "gut feel," not facts; lacking documentation; untested, proceeding on faith; having failed to weigh or delineate options; having committed without sufficient thought to resources; failing to forecast outcomes; naive; too easily swayed by others; premature; and not following established and sound methods. Finally, the DRIVER is likely to perceive your approach as innovative but impractical; more concerned with people's sensitivities than "hard, bottom-line" results; free-form; inconsistent and different from positions you've advocated before; perceptive but "blue-sky ... not battened down" in terms of next steps, specific assignments, timetables or expected results; immature; blowing things out of proportion; thin-skinned; defensive; more concerned with possibilities than action; and better in your start-up ideas than in your finishing, windup strategies.

If your social style is DRIVER, you may alienate the AMIABLE who is likely to perceive your approach as simplistic; too concerned with the immediate crisis of this week, this month, this quarter; overly preoccupied with short-term results at the expense of long-term direction, policy, fundamentals; the proverbial "bull-in-a-china-shop;" ego-centered; too swayed by outside competitive pressures; "shooting from the hip;" opportunistic; too commercially oriented; insufficiently professional; "putting the cart before the horse;" and not mindful of long-term objectives. The ANALYTICAL may regard your approach as piecemeal; shrewd, but lacking depth; committing prematurely; changeable; impulsive; lacking a systematic approach; not utilizing a team approach; insufficiently building on progress of past; shortsighted; not allowing enough time, money or resources for research and development; vague as to objectives and specific program phases; crisis-oriented; "so concerned with cash flow that you'll escalate costs unreasonably to get sales volume;" lacking an orderly, sound, tested business approach; and simply "lucky." The EXPRESSIVE is likely to perceive your approach as insensitive; task-oriented; ramrodding others; premature; stubborn; pushing people rather than influencing them; authoritarian; more concerned with ends than means or processes; insufficiently listening; walking over people; suspicious; old guard; too risk-oriented; not mindful of past loyalties and relationships.

The preceding discussion should demonstrate to you the importance of adapting to the social styles of your customers. For an overview, see Table 3-2, Dealing with Each Personality Style in the Presentation.

If by chance you find yourself selling to someone you have identified as possessing your own social style, you will not have to make the same adjustments as you would if the customer were of a different social style. For example, the customer with an identical social style will likely see you as intelligent, perceptive, and "on his/her wavelength." Because this customer is likely to reinforce your own social style, you may say too much, over-control, and tend to dominate. Consequently, you must be careful to (1) listen; (2) draw the customer out; and (3) not overplay your advantage. Also, although the customer may commit quickly to your plan or strategy because your thinking is similar, this is not always a good thing. If possible, you should solicit independent feedback from someone whose style is the opposite of yours and build this input into your strategic approach.

Social Styles Exercises

Exercise 1

You find yourself working for Raymark Conference Center. As part of your new sales position, you have managed to wrangle an appointment with Janet Smith, vice president of sales for ACME Service Corporation. Normally, your sales manager would accompany you on such an important sales call, but he has been unexpectedly called away due to a family matter. As it took some time to land the appointment, you don't dare cancel. When you arrive at the ACME Service Corporation, you are directed to Ms. Smith's office. A secretary greets you and tells you that Ms. Smith will be with you shortly. You have a seat in the reception area and note that you are 10 minutes early for your appointment; you use the time to look over your presentation notes one last time. At the appointed hour, you hear the secretary's buzzer. You are told that Ms. Smith will now see you, and you are escorted into her office.

You approach Ms. Smith and introduce yourself; she's not terribly cold, but not overly friendly either. You note that Ms. Smith is dressed very nicely, but formally, in a dark conservative business suit with a white shirt and dark pumps. Although the office is quite large with a great view of the city, the furnishings are primarily functional, not opulent. You notice sales graphs and charts on her desk as well as a large stack of what appears to be sales data. You catch a glimpse of her computer screen and note it displays an Excel spreadsheet. Ms. Smith tells the secretary that she will see her next appointment in 20 minutes--you now know that you don't have much time to make your point.

You explain that, as a representative of Raymark, you are interested in serving the needs of the ACME Service Corporation, and that you would like to better understand those needs. You tell Ms. Smith that Raymark has a truly luxurious, yet functional conference center that focuses on accommodating the special needs of corporate groups. Ms. Smith wants to know exactly how you do that. In response, you take out five or six letters of testimony from several corporations. She studies them in great detail.

a. What primary social style does Ms. Smith possess? What has led you to that conclusion?


b. Based on Ms. Smith's social style, how should you structure your sales presentation? What do you want to do? What do you want to avoid doing? Be specific.


c. What is your social style? How would your own social style be perceived by Ms. Smith? In other words, how would your social style interact with her social style?


Exercise 2

You are employed by USA Airlines. As part of your new sales position, you have obtained an appointment with Martin Larsen, vice president of logistics and distribution for a large retail chain called Sky Limited. When you arrive at Sky Limited's headquarters, you are directed to Mr. Larsen's office. A secretary greets you and tells you that Mr. Larsen will be with you shortly. You have a seat in the reception area and since you are early for your appointment, you use the time to look over your presentation notes one last time. Ten minutes after the appointed hour, you hear the secretary's buzzer. You are told that Mr. Larsen will now see you, and you are escorted into his office. Mr. Larsen meets you at the door and gives you a hearty handshake. Mr. Larsen tells the secretary that he will see his next appointment in 20 minutes--you now know that you don't have much time to make your point.

You note that Mr. Larsen is dressed nicely, but comfortably; he has a slightly rumpled look. Although the office is large with a great view of the city, every piece of furniture appears to have stacks of paper on it. Mr. Larsen hurriedly removes some papers from a chair so that you can have a seat. The phone rings and you hear Mr. Larsen tell the other party to "just get it done." While he's on the phone, you notice a few framed action shots of what appears to be Mr. Larsen skydiving and bungee jumping.

You explain that, as a representative of USA Airlines, you are interested in serving the needs of Sky Limited, and that you would like to better understand what those needs are. Mr. Larsen tells you he doesn't have time to explain everything about Sky Limited--"Exactly what is it you want to know?" You begin to talk about the services that USA Airlines could offer Sky Limited, but Mr. Larsen interrupts to ask, "Just how much will the shipments cost?"

a. What primary social style does Mr. Larsen possess? What has led you to that conclusion?


b. Based on Mr. Larsen's social style, how should you structure your sales presentation? What do you want to do? What do you want to avoid doing? Be specific.


c. What is your social style? How would your own social style be perceived by Mr. Larsen, if you fail to adapt? In other words, how would your social style interact with his social style?


Customer Mapping and Social Styles Exercise

Return to your customer map in the Preapproach section, and for each buyer you have named, identify the buyer's social style. This information will assist you in conversing with and preparing a presentation for each buyer. Further, identifying the social styles of your buyers will help you later determine the benefits and personal "wins" each one is seeking.

Once You've "Read" the Customer, Remember to Apply Your Sales Strategy Model!

1. Pre-Read Client.

Diagnose the customer's probable primary social style.

2. Anticipate Style Conflict.

Use self-diagnostic data to determine probable conflict between the customer's social style and yours.

3. Map Your Sales Content Strategy.

Collect, organize, and dry run all relevant facts and benefits to the customer and customer's company.

4. Map Your Consultative Style Strategy.

Determine the social style you will use to effectively interact with the customer. Check for selfconsistency in correspondence, phone contact, sales materials, etc.

5. Validate and Modify.

In face-to-face contacts with customer, validate or reject the preliminary diagnosis of his or her social style data and modify your consultative social style accordingly.

6. Use Conflict Management Techniques.

Use silence, acceptance, open questions, directive questions, restatement, and reflection to create social style harmony.

7. Use Appropriate Style Close.

Employ a final closing strategy tailored to the customer's social style.

8. Reinforce Strategically.

After the sale is completed, gear your follow-up actions to key customers and "secondary customers" within the client company. Remember: good service on past sales is the key to future sales opportunities.

Key Concepts

Chapter 3 initiates an exploration of the approach stage of the sales process. The primary points of this chapter are:

* Adaptive selling, the ability to use different sales approaches in different situations, is a key factor in sales success.

* Adaptive selling is facilitated by knowledge of customer categories, as defined by the social style grid. Social style grid categories consist of amiable, analytical, expressive, and driver.

* Amiables are imaginative, people-oriented, and future-oriented. They seek to form friendship bonds with selected salespeople as a reassurance the amiables will receive fair treatment in the sales process/transaction. Amiables require a soft-sell approach, guarantees, and third-party references.

* Analyticals are fact-oriented, extremely organized, and weigh decisions carefully. They do not want relationships with salespeople and they dislike sales "puffery." Analyticals require a formal approach. Written and verbal proposals to analyticals should provide event steps or phases to emphasize organization. All statements by the salesperson should be supported by evidence.

* Expressives are people-oriented and outgoing. They value relationships above all else and will want to form relationships with salespeople. Expressives enjoy talking, so salespeople should allow for extra time when calling on expressives. After establishing a good relationship with expressives, the salesperson should assume the sale in closing.

* Drivers are fact-and action-oriented. They do not seek relationships with salespeople, but are willing to make rapid buying decisions, even with only partial information. The salesperson should focus on the "bottom-line" benefits to the driver and utilize a direct close.


(1) Spiro, Rosann L. and Barton A. Weitz (1990), "Adaptive Selling: Conceptualization, Measurement and Nomological Validity," Journal of Marketing Research 27 (February), 61-9.

(2) Merrill, David and Roger Reid (1981), Personal Styles and Effective Performance: Make Your Style Work for You. Radnor, PA: Chilton.
Table 3-1: Characteristics Associated with the Social Styles

                    Effective Application

Amiable Style       conceptual
                    intellectually tenacious

Analytical Style    deliberative
                    weighs alternatives
                    exact and precise

Expressive Style    people-oriented
                    grasps traditional values
                    draws out feelings of others

Driver Styles       action-oriented
                    assertive, directional
                    technically skillful
                    objective (base opinions on what is actually seen)
                    bottom-line focus

Table 3-2: Dealing with Each Personality Style In the Presentation


Use a direct approach
Stick to specifics
Don't overstate
List advantages and disadvantages
Put things in writing
Provide evidence
Don't rush, but be persistent
Emphasize technical details


Maintain a business-like relationship
Don't waste time--be clear, specific, and brief
Be precise
Demonstrate "bottom-line" performance
Show increase in driver's control
Be organized in your presentation


Develop a personal relationship first
Provide personal assurances and guarantees
Emphasize how your product affects people
Discuss personal opinions
Don't rush; present your case softly
Show interest in them as people


Be entertaining, stimulating, fun loving
Use testimonials
Appeal to status and recognition needs
Talk about people
Develop a personal relationship
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Title Annotation:prospecting and selling methods
Publication:Hospitality Sales: Selling Smarter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2004
Previous Article:2 Prospecting and preapproach.
Next Article:4 Approach through nonverbal communication, listening, and trust.

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