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How Do I Tailor My Sales Pitch?

Q. Sometimes, my sales pitch works great. Other times, I just don't connect. Is there a way I can customize my pitch for the personality type of my prospective customer? If so, how do I quickly identify the personality type so that I use the right pitch?

A. Tailoring your sales pitch to the personality type of your prospective customer can be powerful. First, you’ll need to categorize personality types. We like the model described by David Merrill and Roger Reid in their book, Personal Styles and Effective Performance. They use two dimensions, assertiveness and self-disclosure to create a four-box matrix -- essential in the consulting world. We’ll describe the four types, how to identify each, and tips for optimizing your pitch.

  • Drivers – assertive, but not self-disclosing. They get things done quickly, take charge and make most, if not all of the decisions. They won’t let things stand in the way.

To identify a driver, look for a focus on the present. They have less concern with learning from the past or implications for the future. Facts and data are important to drivers, but they don't need a lot of analysis to make decisions. They are competitive, bottom-line focused. They may speak quickly, be loud, and be opinionated. Drivers don't ask many questions. They give direct eye contact and when they use hand gestures, they’re sharp, pointed and no nonsense. They will take calculated risks.

Keep your presentation concise and to the point. Be prepared to back up your assertions with facts -- not opinions, but only if the driver asks. Provide a list of choices. Drivers like to make the decisions. Ask them questions and listen carefully. Don't get personal. They like to keep things professional.

  • Expressives – assertive and self-disclosing. They are outgoing, personable and appear to be very friendly. Don’t be fooled by their charm. Expressives are very competitive. They love the spotlight and are intuitive, creative and flexible. They tend to be more visionary than other styles.

Identify expressives by their animation. They often speak loudly and quickly with hand gestures. You’ll get direct eye contact and a lot of personal information. They like to talk about themselves and their plans for the future. They often process information aloud, allowing you to hear their thinking.

Schedule enough time for pleasant, personal conversation. Ask them questions to keep them engaged, but know that expressives often "get off topic." You’ll need to let them wander a bit, but gently lead them back to your agenda. Use endorsements from individuals or organizations that the Expressive might admire to gain credibility.

  • Amiables – self-disclosing, but not assertive. They are relationship oriented and focus on getting along with and helping others. Generally good listeners, they tend to be loyal.

Identify amiables by their polite and respectful demeanor. They won’t be too talkative with those they have just met and will reserve their opinions, not wanting to offend. They are low-risk individuals who will delay decision-making. They’re pleasant, but somewhat aloof—giving little feedback.

To interest amiables, create rapport. Engage in personal conversation. Create a connection and generate trust. Offer personal guarantees and make your service/product as low risk as possible. Draw out amiables by asking open-ended questions. Be patient. If you gain the trust of amiables, they will be loyal customers.

  • Analyticals – neither assertive nor self-disclosing. They focus on the past to get information they need to make decisions. Detailed oriented, analyticals rely on facts and data for direction. They are not risk takers and slow to trust.

Analyticals have a quiet demeanor. They give little feedback, but listen carefully and may take notes. They use few hand-gestures. They can seem a bit cold at first, not because they dislike people, but they are slow to trust.

Use charts, diagram and bullet points to illustrate your message. Be completely buttoned-up. Mistakes will kill your chances. Give additional information that the analytical can read and study later. Don't ask them to make a quick decision. They’ll delay until they can fully analyze a decision. Offer guarantees to minimize risk.

This is a quick synopsis of a complicated topic. No one will fit the stereotypes perfectly. Most will show characteristics of more than one type and many will be a combination of two of the profiles. However, tailoring your pitch using these tips will bring results.

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