Each time I recall this situation I chuckle, because it illustrates so dramatically what I teach about identifying someone’s Buying Style and adjusting your communication to match it.
The sales agent, call him Bob, was new to his industry and definitely had no knowledge about Buying Styles. He knew the services available and the planned presentation to give.
If nothing else, Bob was courteous and prepared.
He arrived on time with his presentation booklet and marketing brochures. Bob quickly discovered that the prospective couple had thoroughly researched their options and had narrowed their choices. The husband just needed a small amount of confirmation to decide between two possibilities.
Rather than start with these two items, Bob began his rehearsed speech. Within minutes the husband turned on his computer and began to play solitaire and stopped communicating.
Being mannerly, Bob continued his talk, now directed to the wife. Being fully aware of her husband’s behavior, she urged Bob to talk about their choices. Since she was skilled in sales herself, and because she wanted to complete the transaction, she instructed Bob to write up the order. Then she got her husband’s attention long enough to select one of the two options they had been considering.
Bob left with the sale, and I’m curious to know whether he also gained a lesson in how not to sell to “smart” buyers, or #8 Buying Style.
I use the term, Buying Style, to indicate the way decision-makers think about and evaluate services and products to determine what to purchase. I’ve assigned numbers to each style that correspond with the number of contacts needed by prospects before they can make a buying decision. I call the Buying Styles, #2, #4, #6, and #8.
The husband, in this story, is a classic #8 “Smart” Buying Style. He spent hours on the web researching information before the appointment until he was satisfied that he knew the “best” choice for his family. He prized being intelligent and competent when making a purchasing decision.
Price was not an issue. The #8 “Smart” Buying Style selects a value in the long run v. immediate cost. Because his people skills were minimal, when Bob failed to answer his questions quickly and directly, the husband disengaged from the conversation without any ceremony. Had this situation occurred in an office, store, or over the phone rather than his home, the #8 “Smart” Buying Style would have walked away or disconnected without saying good-bye.
His wife is a classic #4 “Friendly and Trusting” Buying Style. It’s very common for #8 and #4 Buying Styles to become business or marital partners. The #4 “Friendly and Trusting” Buying Style loves interacting with people and developing relationships. They care about and for others, as well as causes and conditions. Being concerned about people’s feelings, the wife maintained a conversation with Bob, kept the peace, and facilitated the sale.
Knowing someone’s Buying Style gives you an edge as the salesperson. Had Bob figured out ahead of time or during the meeting who he was talking with, he would have secured the order rapidly, without much friction, AND also gotten referrals. Here’s how.
Since the #8 “Smart” Buying Style has a reputation among their social circle for being well educated and researched, and because #4 “Friendly and Trusting” Buying Style likes to talk and help others, Bob could have easily asked for and received help in meeting their friends. Think of the commissions on these sales had Bob been versed on how to sell to smart prospects!
About Dr. Nancy Zare
Dr. Nancy Zare is an international best-selling author. She holds an MSW in Organizational Planning and Development and a Ph.D. in Social Work and Organizational Development from Boston College. For more than 10 years she taught an accelerated program on Entrepreneurial Practice, Leadership, Organizational Development, Public Speaking, and Research Methods, both in the US and Sweden. She has studied successful sales professionals and knows exactly why they excel. More importantly, she can teach it to you!
Nancy is the CEO of Rapport Builderz and past president of the National Speakers Association of New England. She has the gift of taking complex information and simplifying it by finding the nuggets and presenting them with clarity and pizazz. She originated The AlikeAbility™ System to help people sell professional services.
A former professor turned entrepreneur, Dr. Nancy is certified in sales training and adult learning. She is the author of Workplace Hostility: Myth and Reality; and Introduction to the AlikeAbility™ System, plus numerous published articles. She is a devoted student of 12-step recovery and spirituality.