Whether you approach it with fearless passion or like you do a chat with your best mate, everyone has a natural style of influence.
Even if you do not consider yourself to be a ‘natural’ salesperson, you will default to what comes naturally when put in a position that requires influence.
Here, we uncover your preferred selling style, it’s associated strengths and the areas that are not so strong. Then we’ll look at ways to build on your natural strengths and improve your weaknesses. You do not need to ditch everything that feels good about your personality, to become super successful, or adopt an uncomfortable sales style. Instead, you can find ways to celebrate and then build upon your natural ability.
In my 20 years of working with and leading hundreds of salespeople in almost every type of industry and every type of sales environment, I have come across 5 key influencing styles which I call:
Each is unique. None are better or worse than others, but they do have distinctive traits and characteristics. Let’s take an overview of each of these individually and uncover which style resonates the most with you.
Gladiators are a fierce bunch. They appear to be fearless and approach every sales opportunity with an enormous amount of gusto and passion. They operate at speed and bring pace to every task they undertake. Determination should be their middle name, as once they set their sights on their target they will pursue it relentlessly.
Rejection doesn’t worry a Gladiator; it merely bounces off their hard shiny armour.
They seek the thrill of the exchange in the sales process and they love the feeling of winning. In the sales process, Gladiators are brilliant at making appointments. They charge past the gatekeepers and get in front of the Decision Makers. They always spot the first glimpses of a new opportunity and they love meeting new people. They enjoy being around people so much that they enjoy networking both socially and professionally and as a result are likely to have a lot of contacts with a huge social network on and offline. They are fun to be around, not least for the amount of energy they exude – which others feed off.
If you take a peek in a Gladiator’s diary, you will find it crammed full with lots of appointments, networking events and social engagements. In fact, they’ve often double booked their time or overcommitted their schedule.
Gladiators are natural optimists and believe every opportunity will turn into a sales victory and it often comes as a shock if they don’t land the sale. However, they never dwell on their failures for long, as they very quickly lick their wounds and chase after the next big opportunity.
Gladiators thrive on competition, amongst their industry peers and even within their own team.
They are driven by the desire to be Top Dog every month, and as a result respond well to accolades, recognition and awards.
Best Friend salespeople are more gentle souls. Just like your Best Friend in real life, a Best Friend salesperson empathises with your problem, listens intently as you speak making you feel valued and validated in their presence.
They are good at analysing your issues and understand the frustration that this problem causes you.
They always have your best intentions at heart and want to do everything possible to help you. Their strong point lies in their ability to build rapport, with even the most cynical of buyers. They are brilliant conversationalists, ask lots of questions, have a warm and friendly nature and are very easy to talk to. Best Friends are brilliant on details, particularly personal. They will have done their research before they even called you, and they will register and remember even the most insignificant detail about you and your organisation.
Ask a Best Friend about one of their prospects and they will be able to tell you the prospect’s name, the name of their Personal Assistant, the names of the prospect’s children and even the name of the family dog! They will know where their prospect last went on holiday, whether they take milk and sugar in their coffee but they will also draw out of the prospect their aspirations, goals for their company and what motivates them personally. They will know the history of the sales appointment, where they met that client, or sourced the opportunity, the back-story that accompanies the sales opportunity and often these details will not be written down, but stored to memory.
They have acute sensory acuity and have a natural ability to read their buyer, easily picking up on what the buyer is feeling and almost anticipating what the buyer will say next.
They have strong questioning skills, which again comes more from their natural desire to understand and empathise with their prospect rather than a desire to be technically skilled in questioning.
If you look in a Best Friend’s diary they will have less activity and fewer appointments than a Gladiator, but many of those will be second, third and even fourth appointments with some people.
The Wizard’s skills lie in their ability to conjure up spells and potions to solve any problems the client may have. They have amazing memories for recalling thousands of previous potions they’ve made for other customers in the past. In fact, nobody knows their own products and services better than the Wizard.
If you ever need a technical question answered – ask a Wizard.
And if a standard potion won’t solve the customer’s issue, no problem, a Wizard will find a way to tweak their concoction until the right solution can be found.
Just as Best Friends are great listeners, Wizards are great talkers, particularly about their own products or services. Just as the Best Friends will know all of the details about their prospect, the Wizards know just as much detail – only this time it’s about their own company and products. They will be able to tell you the history of their products, where the ideas came from, the process of their development and their evolution over time. They may even have been involved in the development of the products or services they sell, possibly as they were a founding member of the company, which only serves to increase their passion for them. In fact, they gain self-confidence by knowing all of the intricate details, it makes them feel that they could deal with any question from a buyer – secure in the knowledge they could answer accurately.
Their sales technique is largely based on technical knowledge and they will keep supplying the client with more and more benefits (regardless of whether they are relevant!) until the client says ‘Yes’.
Unlike Gladiators, Wizards resist the urge to go and seek new sales opportunities, preferring to set out their stall and wait for opportunities to come to them. A Wizard in a sales team is more likely to want to focus on operations within the business or developing new products for sales solutions, rather than get out there and knock on doors.
Wizards can masquerade easily as Accountants or Lawyers, or even as Engineers, Landscape Gardeners, Cake Makers, Travel Agents, Scientists and Software Designers.
Sales may not be their first choice of career, it is more likely a Wizard is trained for another profession but is required to either promote their own business or now interact with customers as part of their job.
The Banker style of selling does as the name suggests – they bank the money. Their primary focus is closing the deal and making a profit.
They can create an opportunity and pursue a sale that others would consider to be dead; however, they always have their eye on the bottom line. They know and understand their margins, their cost of sale, and they are not just focused on revenue and turnover but also, productivity and profitability.
They are amazing negotiators and will only consider a deal if it makes money.
Bankers understand that making deals at a profit is a necessary part of business and business development. Not only that, they enjoy making deals. They often have a strong business acumen which may have developed over time or through experience. They share some similar qualities to the Gladiator in that they enjoy the process of selling and will actively pursue an opportunity; however, unlike the Gladiator they will follow it through to closure and ultimately make money.
They do enjoy interacting with people, only if you look in the Bankers diary it will be full of invitations to attend high profile conferences and events, possibly even to address a group or share their knowledge on their industry or subject. They are unlikely to attend an appointment or event on a whim and unless they are certain it will yield a positive result. They may even be involved in a number of committees or membership societies, representing themselves or their company on a regional or national basis.
They enjoy counting their money and therefore are naturally good with numbers and understand the impact of their decisions on their Gross and Net Profit.
Bankers are strong, consistent and usually very well respected amongst their peers and will be well known for their excellent business skills.
In a large organisation which may have more than one sales objective on the go at any one time, Bankers remain raiser sharp and very focused.
They can multi-task well and seamlessly move multiple projects forward always eager to close that next deal.
Monarchs are usually more senior members of the sales team, perhaps they have been promoted in the past and, as a result, often make great Sales Managers and/or Account Managers as their skills naturally blend with sales leadership roles. They understand that to achieve the overall sales objectives and to service all of their subjects, they need a strong team around them. They understand that maintaining high volumes of customers and achieving large sales targets cannot be fulfilled by one person’s efforts alone, therefore, they must attract, motivate and manage strong people around them.
They are brilliant at delegation and creating systems and processes that help manage the sales process.
They find ways to maintain internal and external communication with vast numbers of people. They build bridges with internal operations and other customer departments as they recognise the importance of all relationships that are critical to the overall success of the sale.
True Monarchs may only look after the interests of a couple of key clients and very rarely meet new clients (unless something has gone wrong and they are needed to restore confidence and put the matter right). Instead, they focus their efforts on delivering their results via the team. They are strong delegators, but without abdicating responsibility for the overall results.
Employing the right people, increasing productivity, training and motivating others, developing systems and streamlining processes are the mainstay of the Monarchs. They embrace any technology that improves the sales process and will have a close handle on reporting their sales and associated activity. They combine facts with their hunches and will use sales reports and statistics to guide them.
A look in a Monarch’s diary rather than reveal sales appointments, other than internal meetings or Client Key Account reviews, instead shows a list of tasks regarding daily, weekly and monthly reports, appraisals with staff and a long list of repetitive processes that need to be run in order to keep the cogs of the sales wheel turning.
Monarchs make great managers, motivating people and taking great pride in other people’s and the team’s success.
Monarchs drift towards roles in Account Management, Management roles or even Sales Support and back office roles.
Read part 2 here, to find out ways to build on your natural strengths and improve your weaknesses.
Nicola Cook is an award-winning entrepreneur and twice published international best-selling author on professional selling and personal & business growth. She is CEO of Company Shortcuts, a business devoted to improving business results by injecting skill, passion and strategy to help those entrepreneurs and sales enthusiasts achieve the sales results they desire.