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ISM Article

Adapt Your Style

4 May, 2006 By: Marvin Himel

Adapt Your Style

The average salesperson has a
closing ratio of one to four. For every four qualified prospects they propose,
they will close one. There are several reasons for this including sales
techniques, prospect qualifications, and not presenting the solution in an
effective way. One dominant reason for this ratio however, is that most
salespeople do not take into consideration the personality type of the prospect
they are working with, not adapting their selling style accordingly. The reason
they sell one out of four is because one out of four times they happen to come
across someone who is similar to them in temperament and responds favorably to
their selling style. Every prospect is unique and needs to be handled in a
unique fashion. An outstanding salesperson quickly recognizes the temperament of
the person he or she is dealing with and adapts their style accordingly.

is our natural tendency to sell to people the way we want to be sold. This works
great as long as you are selling somebody who thinks and acts the way you do.
What happens if you like to have a lot of factual information and are slow and
deliberate in your buying, and the person who is trying to sell you is emotional
and likes to move in a hurry? Chances are you’ll get mad and won’t buy. It’s
frustrating for salespeople too when they feel like they’ve given the prospect
every reason to buy and they still won’t. Use the acronym MAD to remember to
adapt when dealing with different personalities rather than getting mad.


We are always fundamentally attracted to people that we perceive as similar to
us. We unconsciously seek out people who share similar backgrounds, looks,
tastes, and personalities. According to a classic U.C.L.A. study, only seven
percent of a message is communicated verbally while the remaining 93 percent is
communicated nonverbally (38% through intonation and 55% through body language).

Mirroring is the act of duplicating behavior. You may mirror another person’s
gestures, voice tone, pace, volume, movements, posture, and space. When you do
this, people will feel more at ease with you, causing them to think, "This
person is like me, so I can trust them."

When you are able to mirror and match the person you are meeting with, you are
able to establish immediate rapport. If the prospect uses certain words or a
phrase like, "This is a fantastic idea," don’t talk about the good solution you
have for them, talk about the "fantastic" solution you have for them. If they
are fast-paced and energetic, try to match your energy level to theirs. Before I
even knew what mirroring was, I subconsciously matched and mirrored prospects
and have used this tool throughout my sales career with incredible results.


When you are selling to different personality types, the most important thing to
remember is that you need to adapt your style to each personality type and give
them what they want. Left-brain people want more facts. They want to feel they
are making the logical decision. Right brain people want wordy pictures and
stories. They want to see what the impact of your solution is going to have on
the people in their organization.

When you are asking questions, focus on numbers and productivity with left-brain
people. With right brain people, focus on the people and how they will be
affected. When you are presenting the solution, make it more black and white
with supporting facts for the left-brain people. The stories should be flashier,
and with more pictures, having a higher entertainment value with right-brain

Right brain or creative thinkers gather information by feelings and intuition.
They are able to visualize the whole idea. Their thought processes may appear
illogical because they are emotional and intuitive. Analysis of information
often involves free association. The solution may be quite innovative but the
route traveled to reach this conclusion would be impossible for a more rational
left-brain thinker to follow. Visual thinkers do not use a step-by-step process
to gather information; it is visually gathered all at once. This makes
organization of this information, either written or verbal, a bit harder to

Left-brain or critical thinkers collect information using logic and sense. This
information is retained using words and numbers. Unlike right brain thinkers who
see the whole concept, left brain thinkers see only parts of the whole idea,
which guides them in their logical, step-by-step gathering of information. Their
brain processes are deductive, rational, and analytically connected. Left-brain
thinkers tend to express themselves with concise words and written facts.


In addition to being right or left brain oriented, we also have a tendency to be
more action or analysis oriented. Most people have a tendency to either be prone
to action or prone to stopping to analyze before taking action. Although every
person is unique, there are four basic temperaments which most of us fall into
depending on our right or left brain orientation and our desire for action
versus analysis. The four basic temperaments are:

The Driver

The Driver is typically very confident, assertive, to the point, controlling and
tends to be a workaholic. They need facts, results, and challenges, and need to
understand the impact of your solution. With a driver, you need to get to the
point quickly, focus on the bottom line, use only relevant facts and sell
"productivity." You need to avoid being late, talking a lot, making claims or
complex and boring proposals, or even backing down. Some famous Drivers are
Michael Douglas, Donald Trump, Kobe Bryant and Demi Moore.

Most Analytics will spend six months gathering all types of information before
they make a buying decision. This information will typically make a stack about
six inches tall. The key to selling an Analytic faster is to help them gather
the information. If you can help them gather six inches of information in one
month, then they will most likely buy in one month instead of six months.


The Driver is the most intense of the four personalities.

Characterized by large ego and a need to be the center of attention.

Very self sufficient and independent.

Likes being the boss and placing high demands on themselves and others.

Performs well under pressure.

The Analytic

The Analytic personality is very logical, a planner, accurate, detail oriented
and cautious. They need facts, security, charts, graphs and they need to see
everything in writing. They need a lot of support information, need to be
convinced they’re making a safe decision, want to see the benefits in writing,
and don’t like to be pressured. Avoid grandly overstating benefits, using
gimmicks, rushing their decisions and talking too fast. Some famous analytic
celebrities are Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, and George Castanza.

Most Analytics will spend six months gathering all types of information before
they make a buying decision. This information will typically make a stack about
six inches tall. The key to selling an Analytic faster is to help them gather
the information. If you can help them gather six inches of information in one
month, then they will most likely buy in one month instead of six months.


Have a high need for security and stay at one job as long as possible.

Great problem solvers because of their patience and ability to take things apart
and put back together.

They will delay decision making until they have gathered large volumes of

Very dependable and punctual.

Cautious in their decision making and look for the safest decision.

The Amiable

The Amiable is very supportive, softhearted, intuitive, people-oriented and
nonassertive. They need reassurance, security, freedom, positive reinforcement
and to be loved. They need for you to build a lot of rapport, be willing to talk
about their personal life, show them you care, to be very supportive and not
pressure them. Avoid deadlines, rushing them, talking too fast, and any
conflict. Some famous Amiable celebrities are Penelope Cruz, Richard Simmons and


The Amiable thrives on having a support group of friends and family.

Time is not relevant and they do not like change.

Work well in a creative environment and have a strong intuitive nature.

Love to receive "pats on the back."

Are very averse to taking risks.

The Expressive

The Expressive is a very fun-loving, creative, enthusiastic, talkative and
charismatic personality. They need applause, to look cool, have recognition,
approval and interaction with people. Ask about their accomplishments, focus on
their dreams, entertain them, paint word pictures and give an overview with few
details. Avoid complex proposals, technical jargon, rushing the conversation and
giving too many details. Some famous Expressive celebrities would be Tom Hanks,
Meg Ryan, Shaquille O’Neal, and Goldie Hawn.


Loves action and excitement and is extremely people-oriented.

Naturally persuasive, they will rely on that ability instead of learning proven
sales techniques.

Creative solutions to complex problems come naturally.

Positive recognition will fuel them to work extremely hard.

Have no problem meeting new people and like to be a part of a group.

Salespeople need to understand the dangers of trying to sell others the way we
want to be sold. If you are an Expressive, it is extremely difficult to talk
your way into a sale with an Analytic. Conversely, if you are an Analytic it is
just as difficult to show an Expressive all the logical reasons for buying
without involving their emotions. If the salespersons’ ultimate goal is to have
a one-to-one closing ratio on every sale, then an understanding of how to
identify and adapt to different personalities is critical.

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