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4 Personality Types (And How to Sell To Them)

One size does not fit all. Your prospects are individuals with personalities as varied as their business needs, so a successful salesperson needs the ability to sell to different personality types. To maximize your sales success, adapt your tactics to these four major personality types.

1) Assertive

Assertive personality types are goal-oriented and competitive. Results are more important than personal relationships to these prospects. They might not be the customers you get a holiday card from, but if you can deliver on your commitments, you will maintain a healthy business relationship. Assertives care deeply about the bottom line.

People with assertive personality types are decisive and quick workers. They want information -- fast -- and might become impatient with a repetitive sales rep who speaks in abstractions.

How to spot them:
Assertive personality types speak in declarative sentences rather than asking questions, and in a louder-than-average tone. Look for animated and confident body language, such as leaning forward or gesturing when they speak.

How to sell to them:
  • Professionalism is always important, but especially so when it comes to assertive people. Always make sure you’re prepared for a meeting with an assertive personality type. If you don’t know the answer to a question, let them know you’ll follow up instead of trying to formulate a halfway correct answer.
  • Assertives appreciate efficiency. Don’t waste their time repeating facts or building up to your point. Cut to the chase.
  • Emphasize how your product will solve their business’ problems. Cutting-edge features won’t impress Assertives unless you can demonstrate why they will be useful to their organization.
  • Take advantage of their competitive streak and show them how your product can put their company head and shoulders above others in their industry.

2) Amiable

People with amiable personality types value personal relationships and want to trust those they do business with. They like the excitement of new challenges and are enthusiastic about formulating creative solutions. However, they might not conduct thorough research before meeting with you and will be looking to you to guide them through the buying process.

Unlike Assertives, Amiables tend to work in a less structured manner, and aren't quick to make decisions. They want to establish a rapport with the people they do business with and will likely seek out the help or approval of multiple team members. You can expect a more drawn out sales process than usual.

How to spot them:
Amiables are great listeners, and might ask more personal questions in an attempt to get to know you outside of your professional role. They will be friendly, calm, and patient during meetings. Conversations with Amiables are generally laid-back and informal.

How to sell to them:
  • Pitch a vision. Help them visualize the outcomes their business could achieve with the help of your product or service.
  • Take time to establish a rapport. Amiables will need to feel safe in their relationship with your company before they’ll be comfortable doing business with you.
  • Take the role of an expert and walk them through the decision making process. Instead of overwhelming an amiable with information, help them through the process and act as an advisor.

3) Expressive

Expressives are also sometimes called "humanists" for a good reason -- like Amiables, personal relationships are very important to this personality type.
Expressives are concerned with others’ well-being. Whether it’s their employees or their customers, the expressive personality type will want to know how decisions they make affect the people around them. They tend to be people-pleasers, but don’t be fooled: Expressives often have powerful personalities and use them to convince others of their strongly held convictions.

Expressives are creative, outgoing, spontaneous, and rely on their intuition. They value mutual respect, loyalty, and friendship. Don’t make offhand commitments to expressives, as reneging on an offer could spell the end of your relationship.

How to spot them:
Expressives tend to be very enthusiastic and colorful. Like Amiables, they’ll want to bond with you and feel connected on a personal level; but like Assertives, Expressives are sure of their beliefs and speak more in statements rather than questions.

How to sell to them:
  • Present case studies. Expressives want to be reassured that you’re looking out for them, and what better way to prove your track record than to show stories of how your business made an impact on other people’s lives?
  • Emphasize an ongoing relationship. If your company offers exceptional customer service or maintains long-term partnerships with its clients, now is the time to shout it from the rooftops.
  • Don’t focus too much on facts and figures. Data is important, but an expressive will ultimately want to know how their buying decision affects their business on a human level.

4) Analytic

Those with an analytical personality type love data, facts, and figures. As no-nonsense people, they’ll look past a highfalutin pitch and get straight to the facts. Be prepared to field a lot of detailed questions, and don’t be surprised if it seems like an analytical prospect already knows you -- they will research you and your business before meeting.

Analytics stick to their deadlines, but they don't make decisions quickly. They care about thoroughly vetting and understanding the options available to them, and won't jump the gun on a decision. They're more logical and cautious than any other personality type, but are secure in their decisions.

How to spot them:
Analytics are less expressive than other personality types. They are concerned with facts rather than emotion, and likely won’t spend time getting to know you on a personal level. In conversation, Analytics are serious, direct, and formal. They might not use expressive gesturing in meetings, but you can be sure they're listening intently.

How to sell to them:
  • Never rush an Analytic. Be prepared for a longer selling process, as Analytics will take as much time as they need to gather all the facts they feel are necessary to make a decision.
  • Assume they are prepared and have done their research. This doesn’t mean you should skip over introductory information, but you can expect to spend less time talking basic features, and more discussing custom, personalized solutions for their business.
  • Avoid making high-level claims. Always provide data when you make an assertion, or risk losing credibility. Overhyping your product might make Analytics suspicious that you’re using flowery language to mask flaws.
  • Provide as much detailed information as possible. Instead of saying “Our product drives growth for many companies,” say, “Our product increased sales in 13 Fortune 500 companies by 25% or more year-over-year.” You can offer more information than they ask for without risking them becoming overwhelmed -- in fact, they’ll probably welcome it.
  • Don’t try to force a relationship that’s not there. Analytics might become annoyed by those they feel are overly flattering or obsequious.

Keep in mind that most prospects will be a mix of these personality types and won't fit neatly into one of the four categories above. However, once you’re familiar with these core personalities, you should be able to tailor your selling strategy to fit any situation you come across.

From an article in HubSpot by Lesli Le.

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