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Selling to People Different than You? It’s All about Style


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Whether in boardrooms or news reports, there is much discussion these days about the generation known as Millennials. For those in sales, the challenge is to successfully communicate and breakthrough to this group, also known as Generation Y. They are coming of age, making purchasing decisions and scaring the willies out of every marketer, it seems. 

While selling to this specific demographic might seem especially challenging to some of us, it’s really important to understand that they are not just a generation, but individuals with unique needs and expectations. Once we identify those, it will be easier on them and ultimately on us.

In fact, in order to effectively communicate to all prospects, we in sales and marketing need to find ways to understand the individual behavioral styles of the people we are targeting. This is important when you want to establish rapport and build trust. Preferred communication styles are key to building a successful business relationship, whether the person is 20 years old, or 80.

Not everybody responds to the same communication tools
In our family we have this challenge all the time. My children are adults and spread out all over the country. We always struggle with finding the best means to ensure everybody “hears” the message. My older son still responds to email, but prefers text. My younger son only responds to text messages. My husband prefers in-person conversations (almost impossible these days) and I try to be as flexible as I can to keep everybody engaged. 

While this can be exhausting and frustrating in a family setting, in a business environment it can cost us money. Not being heard means that our message doesn’t come through and that ultimately could result in lost opportunities. 

But how can we assure that our messages are heard?
Learn the different behavioral styles
My company offers a training approach where learners can identify the preferred communications style of individuals, as well as discovering behavioral styles. Understanding the four basic behavioral styles (DISC) helps our clients identify their own behavioral style preference through a web-based self-assessment and the behavioral styles of others

Below is a description of the four different styles. Keep in mind that we all are probably a combination, with one dominant style. 
D – Dominance = Director  

  • Fast-paced, cuts to the chase, gets to the point
  • Stresses results, accomplishments and innovation 
  • Quick to make decisions and make an idea their own 

Motto:  Just Do It! 

 I – Influence = Expressive 

  • Fast-paced and socially striving
  • Considers how the decision will make them look 
  • Quick to make decisions and follow-up on their commitment

Motto: Life’s Too Short – Have Some Fun! 

 S – Steadiness  

  • Reserved, friendly, neighborly, soft-spoken
  • Stresses reliability, dependability, likes assurances and warranties 
  • Slower to make decisions, likes to hear testimonials 

Motto: Two Heads Are Better Than One!

C – Conscientiousness/Critical = Analytical  

  • Reserved, analytical, calculating
  • Stresses value, proof, facts and figures 
  • Slower to make decisions, likes to quantify 

Motto: If You Are Going to Do It – Do It Right

Adjust your sales approach

Once you can identify how behavioral traits relate to buying styles you can appropriately adjust your approach based on your prospect’s behavioral style. By doing so, you build trust and gain commitments. You will then be able to appreciate and adjust to the strengths and weaknesses inherent to each style and plan for effective interactions.

Understanding different behavioral types keeps you from misreading the intention and motivation of others and will help you navigate easier. You also will be able to better prepare for presentations because you will know what the client needs to hear about your product, company and you before agreeing to buy.

For example, people who are director types (like myself), want you to get to the point quickly, cut out the fluff and explain clearly. If you are dealing with somebody who is a strong analytical type, you will want to have your facts straight and be prepared to go into as much detail as needed. This allows the analytical person to process the information and feel confident they did their due diligence. Strategically adjusting your approach will help you gain trust and acceptance of others with integrity and honesty.

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