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How to Sell to 4 Different Personality Types


I’d only been driving my dad’s car for two weeks before it exploded into flames on the highway.

This is not an exaggeration.

After the auto shop confirmed there was no way I could drive the car again without paying for more repairs than it was worth, I went car-shopping.

I was prepared to spend a good chunk of change for an extremely reliable vehicle (you can understand my trepidation.) And I wasn’t going to be too picky -- I needed a new car ASAP. Those two factors meant I was an extremely good prospect.

Unfortunately for him, the first salesperson I talked to used the wrong approach. He didn’t ask, “Why are you getting a new car?” or even specific questions like “Do you care about fuel efficiency over style?”

Instead, he tried to steamroll me into buying a “cute” car. He didn’t give any facts or figures about its reliability or tell me about its safety features. He just said things like, “I think you’ll love driving around in this car.”

His pitch would’ve worked on a different personality type, but not mine. So he lost out on a multi-thousand dollar commission.

Learn how we're partnering with Crystal to help sales reps tailor their communication to their prospects' personalities ... Before they've ever met.

If you want to consistently win deals, you can’t sell how you’d like to be sold to. You have to adapt your strategy to the buyer’s personality type. Let’s dive into the four main types of personalities and what you need to know about each.


The 4 Personality Types and How to Sell to Each

1. Assertive

Assertive personality types are goal-oriented, decisive, and competitive. They care more about results than personal relationships. They might not send you a holiday card, but if you deliver on your commitments, you'll maintain a healthy business relationship. Assertives care deeply about the bottom line.

People with assertive personality types are also relatively impatient and controlling. They want information -- fast -- so they can make a decision and move on.

Assertive personality traits:

Assertives usually speak in declarative sentences and ask few questions, so if you notice your prospect says things like, "I'm looking for a new sedan," rather than, "Can you show me your sedans?", you're probably dealing with an Assertive personality type.

Their volume is also a little louder than average, and they use animated, confident body language. 

How to sell to them:
  • Professionalism is always important, but especially so when it comes to Assertives. 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 give 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 will help their company compete with others in their industry.
  • Steer clear of personal opinions and testimonials. If you're citing a successful customer, talk about the ROI they saw rather than how much they loved the product.
  • Since Assertives aren't great listeners, keep your statements short and to the point.

2. Amiable

People with amiable personality types value personal relationships and want to trust their business partners. They like the excitement of new challenges. Amiables will enthusiastically dive into finding creative or unexpected solutions -- but on the flip side, they probably won't do a ton of research before meeting with you. That means you can guide them through the purchasing process.

Unlike Assertives, Amiables don't make decisions quickly. They want to establish  rapport with the people they do business with and will likely seek out the help or approval of multiple team members. Expect a longer sales process than usual.

Amiable personality traits:

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 build rapport. Amiables will need to feel safe in their relationship with your company before they’ll be comfortable doing business with you.
  • Bring up examples of similar clients who have successfully used your product. Flesh out the story -- why did client X come to you? What tipped them toward your product? Which features were most important? Details like these are convincing for Amiables.
  • 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.
  • Give them personal guarantees. Since Amiables are risk-averse, promising them your company will refund their purchase if they're not satisfied or they can cancel at any time will calm their anxieties and make them likelier to buy.

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 -- reneging on an offer could spell the end of your relationship.

Expressive personality traits:

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 peoples 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.
  • Summarize along the way. You want to continually get their buy-in, so ask questions like, "So, we agree that you can use Templates to automate the prospecting process?"

4. Analytic

Those with an analytical personality type love data, facts, and figures. As no-nonsense people, they’ll look past a flowery 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 do not 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 are more logical and cautious than any other personality type -- but once they make a decision, they won't reverse it

Analytic personality traits:

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 are 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.

More of a graphics person? Check out the infographic below, made by Visme for HubSpot, for a visual take on the four different personality types and how to sell to each one.

How to Sell to 4 Different Personality Types.jpg

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