In 1964, Dr. David W. Merrill, an industrial psychologist and university professor, and psychologist Roger Reid created a personality model that could predict the success in selling and management careers. This model is simple to understand and allows one to find personality styles fast and easily. 

Merrill and Reid established four personality categories based on the conclusions of two traits. First, is the personality mostly extroverted (assertive) or mostly introverted (nonassertive)? Second, is the personality mostly empathy-oriented (relationship-oriented) or mostly non-empathetic (not relationship-oriented)? The answers yield four personality types: The Director, The Analytical, The Socializer and The Amiable. 

Different personality types have different communication styles and diverse ways of making decisions and achieving results. When connecting with customers, personality styles need to be recognized and carefully regarded if we want to consistently make sales. We cannot sell all customers the same way, nor can we try to sell every individual in the way we would like to be sold. To be most effective, we must tailor our vocabularies, tone, pace and gestures to the personality types we meet. 

Before we begin, please understand that a person can, from time to time, exhibit different secondary behaviors commonly associated with other personality styles, although a dominant pattern normally emerges. It is rare that a person will be wholly one personality type. 

Extroverted/Non-empathetic personalities are referred to as directors or drivers. Directors hold competence above everything else and will not tolerate ignorance or the unprepared salesperson. They are true leaders and are often found in management and ownership. Most directors react quickly, so they often make decisions with whatever facts are available to them at the moment.  

The director is fast-paced and goal-oriented, so they will usually want to dispense with the pleasantries and get down to business. A thwarted attempt to warm up at the beginning of the sales conversation may be the first clue you are dealing with a director personality. 

With directors, ask questions that allow this prospect to discover things rather than being told. Keep your questions specific while giving purposeful information, but only when needed. 

You must be careful with directors; they may have a rough edge to them. If you disagree with a director, discuss the facts, not personal feelings. Directors appreciate good listeners because they are used to doing things their way. But be careful not to make the director feel patronized; if you do, she or he will see right through it.

Directors do not wish to waste time shopping unless it is the sensible conclusion to do so. They are task- and result-oriented. She expects expertise and if she receives it, she will buy, and if she doesn’t, she won’t. 

Directors are easier to persuade than most personality types if you can present your proposal quickly, effectively, convincingly and to the point. Excellent product knowledge may pay off here if it is concise and needed! 

Directors are often the most feared and intimidating contact, and this is unfortunate for them as they are usually the most efficient buyers. In a way, directors are easy to deal with as long as you act like a director. Becoming your “friend” is not a prerequisite to doing business with you, but it surely helps when you have finally passed all their tests. 

Introverted/Non-empathetic personalities are referred to as analyticals or thinkers. Analyticals are not individuals who come in your store and “just want to look.” Instead, like directors, they thrive on competent expertise. 

Thinkers, or analyticals, place immense importance on honesty and integrity. Be pleasant but straightforward in talking with the analytical. Analyticals especially favor being around people who think themselves. 

Analyticals are great listeners and they love an organized step-by-step presentation. They like structure and dislike too much involvement with other people. They are short on small talk. Analyticals are slower paced by nature and they are often perfectionist.

This detail person is task-oriented and finds security and comfort in facts and figures, dwelling more on how something works than the fact that it does work. Their greatest fear is making a mistake by taking action without all the specifics. Your questions should focus on facts, details, and logic and how the purchase would strengthen and enhance their overall security and comfort. 

The one detail to remember when closing sales with analyticals is that they will not make a decision until they know the worst-case scenario. You must discuss the positives, but discuss the negatives upfront because that is what they are looking for. Never patronize the analytical because they will know that is what you are doing. Never use gimmicks.

Because analyticals automatically default to disaster, let them work out what might be their worst-case outcome. Beware of the voice in your head telling you not to talk about negatives as this may kill the deal.  

Analyticals do not close quickly or easily. They usually want to “think about it” and may wish to shop more than one place. Do not rush their decision-making process; the analytical will think something is wrong. The goal in selling the analytical is to prove the optimal value based on all needs and applications. Price, while important, is rarely the exclusive issue. 

The analytical is a diplomat and normally doesn’t hurt other people’s feelings. On the other hand, the analytical is often short on giving praise.

The next article further discusses personality selling by exploring the socializer and the amiable and how best to approach these customers in selling. 

Good selling to you!