Navigating Different Personalities in Your Customer Interactions

Everyone has four main traits of varying degrees. Which one is the most dominant can greatly affect the approach you should take.

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In your interactions with customers, you’ve likely noticed the different personalities that emerge. It’s a good thing. Thankfully, we’re not all the same. But from a business perspective, it can pose a challenge.

How exactly you interact with these various personality types may be the difference between success or failure in striking an understanding, agreement or sale. Thrown into this mix is your own unique personality. So with your personality and your customer's personality, how do you get on the same page?

While everyone has a unique personality, there are four main traits that are in all of us. Here’s where the science of personality, and your ability to identify which of those traits are more or less dominant in a person, can come into play in your dealings with customers. While an in-depth study of this subject may take weeks or months to fully understand, here are a few tips for each of the four personality types that you can practice on the job to make things positive for you and your customer.

Dominance. This person is a bottom-line-type person. They want to cut to the chase and make a decision with a few facts. Ever had a customer with a backed-up drain caused by root intrusion and while you are showing them a video explaining the problem, they suddenly stop you and ask what it's going to take to fix it and how much will it cost? With this type of customer, you will only hurt yourself if you continue on with a detailed explanation. He’s identified the problem in his mind, made a decision to move forward and fix it, and only wants to know the bottom-line price and timeline. A lengthy explanation will most likely lose his attention and he’ll move on to finding someone who can give him the bottom-line information he wants.

Steadiness. They like details, and the more the better. They are the folks who read all of the information you give them and usually want more. If you are the same personality type, you will both revel in the detail and most likely come to an agreement. They will expect to see all of the specifications, ASTMs if applicable, data, studies, and other information. They will also read every review your company has ever received on internet rating sites. They want to be sold this way and the more documentation you feed them, the better.

Influence. They’re relationship-oriented and would rather gather with you over golf or cocktails and form a friendship-type bond with you. They could not care less about how you fix the issue, as long as you’re friends and vow to fix the problem as a friend would fix it. Giving this person a bottom-line proposal will most likely fail, as will feeding them all of the specifications. Friends first, then they’ll do business with you. Short of making that friendship bond, your proposal won’t go anywhere.

Compliance. Being friends with this type doesn’t make much difference. They do like most of the details of what you are proposing, but not in the quantity of information that the steadiness type wants. They enjoy friendly relationships with those they do business with, but not to the extent of an influencer. Finally, they will get to the bottom line, but they still want to know all of the information that they believe they need to be comfortable with a decision — and they will want the advice of others first. Referrals from previous customers are very helpful in getting these folks to do business with you. If you jump to the bottom line, overstimulate them with data, or suggest golf or cocktails, you most likely will be the guy watching your competition do the work you were proposing.

How can you use this information to become more successful in your interactions with customers? The first step is to identify your personality type. You can do this by figuring out how you like to buy things. Which-type buyer of goods or services fits you best from the above groupings? The hardest part of this exercise is to be honest and not view those personalities that don’t fit you as wrong or bad, or that your type is good or right. After you’ve sorted out where you fit, practice by sizing up your interactions with your customers, remembering that they are driven by their own individual personality.

Also remember that none of us is all one type or another. We are a blend of all of them, with some more dominant than others and some less dominant than others. Once you begin figuring out which type of personality you are dealing with, begin tailoring your interactions with others as they want to hear it, not how you want to present it. As you become more proficient, you will find more successful interactions and more closed sales.

About the author
John Heisler is the owner of Pipe Lining Supply and Quik-Lining Systems Inc. He has 20 years of experience in the CIPP lining industry and over 40 years in the underground construction industry.


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