Transcript – Episode 35

Fred Dunayer:                 Welcome to the SCORE Small Business Success podcast, Been There, Done That. To get free mentoring services, as well as to see the wide variety of resources available for small businesses, visit our website at www.score.org, or call 1-800-634-0245.

Now, here’s your host, Dennis Zink.

Dennis Zink:                     Episode number 35. The Sales Bridge. Fred Dunayer joins me today in our studio as co-host, (SCORE mentor) and our audio engineer. Good morning Fred.

Fred Dunayer:                 Good morning Dennis.

Dennis Zink:                     Our guest today is Mike Lewis. Mike, good morning.

Mike Lewis:                      Good morning, Dennis.

Dennis Zink:                     Welcome to Been There, Done That.

Mike Lewis:                      I’m happy to be here.

Dennis Zink:                     Mike Lewis is a certified mentor and the Chapter Chair of Pasco-Hernando SCORE in Pasco County, Florida. An expert in selling techniques and sales communication skills, Mike presents seminars on topic such as how to start a business and personality selling. His published book, The Sales Bridge, The Art of Sales Communication, focuses on why personality selling, is an ideal way to interact, communicate, and sell more products and services.

Mike has been a small business owner and has trained hundreds of sales representatives and managers. Mike, what do you mean by personality selling and why would that be either important or a good technique to have?

Mike Lewis:                      Dennis, it is critical to understand your customer and who you’re selling to. All too often, a salesman just goes in to the office and starts to talk, talk, talk, talk, but doesn’t really analyze their own personality, they don’t analyze the customer’s personality.

What I mean by personality is we all look at things different, we all behave differently. Some of us are very aggressive which I would call a D type personality. They’re very direct, they want facts quickly. Some of us are interactive, they just talk a lot. Salesman running, all they do is talk, talk, talk, talk.

There is certain other people who don’t like change, I would call that the S personality, they’re traditional. They don’t want to move too quick, they don’t understand how to move too quick. Then there are others within the selling realm that are analytical, they just need data, data, data.

If a salesman doesn’t understand the customers personality, they don’t even get to first base, so it’s critical that they understand who they are and who the customer is.

Dennis Zink:                     Mike, why is learning selling skills and personality selling a different thing?

Mike Lewis:                      I’m glad you asked that question because a lot of sales representatives just do not understand the differences. Let me explain. Selling skills are techniques you use such as asking questions, gaining information from the customer, how to handle objections, how to close, that’s been the traditional way of selling, but you have to get to that point.

The problem with sales representative is they go in to a customer, they don’t understand their own personality to begin with, they don’t analyze the customer’s personality and they never get to selling skills. You have to build rapport. There’s an old adage, people buy from people they like, and people buy from people they trust.

You have to build that personal rapport. The way to build that personal rapport is to understand your customer, what turns them on, what gives them a reason to buy from you. Did they need a lot of data? If you don’t give them the data, they won’t buy from you, they don’t think you’re on top of your game. So there’s quite a bit of difference between selling skills and personality selling.

Dennis Zink:                     Why do some customers buy it from one sales person versus another?

Mike Lewis:                      The old problem, why can one salesman go in and immediately sell, and the other salesman has been hammering away for five or ten years and they can’t get the order. It comes to personality.

For instance, Dennis, if you and I just met each other casually, I’d walk up to you and say hello, you’d say hello to me and then you turn around to Fred and say, “Fred, I don’t like that guy”,  “Why don’t you like him, you just met him two seconds ago?” “I don’t know, there’s something about him.”

That has to do with personality. People have to click with each other. You have to have the same or similar behaviors to be involved with somebody, hang around somebody. It’s the same thing with customers.

If I’m a salesman and I just walk in and start talking, and talking, and talking, but that’s a different behavior and personality that you have. While you’re a very direct, dominant type of personality, you want quick, short answers, you don’t want to hear this guy talk, and talk, and talk. That’s why some people click with the customer and some people don’t.

Dennis Zink:                     Why is this different than DiSC?  DiSC is a system that I’ve been familiar with for many years, and we used to give it to our employees. It’s pretty good, but how is it different?

Mike Lewis:                      Dennis, that’s a great question. Let me first explain the DiSC system which is the dimensions of behavior. I’m sure our audiences has heard of Myer-Briggs, and DiSC, and some of the other personality behavior models that are out there.

D is a very dominant, direct behavior. I is a very interactive people-oriented behavior. S is very steady, traditional also people interactive behavior, and C is a compliant behavior, I’ll define that as analytical.

If I am a I interactive behavior and I walked in to you as my customer, and then you’re very direct, and I’m very talkative, which is not hard for me, you’re going to get turned off because you want me to be very short, get to the point, give me the facts ma’am. That’s the difference, that’s why understanding the DiSC model is important.

What I’ve done is I’ve adapted that DiSC model to make it a selling model. I’ve said to the salesman, you have to understand your personality behavior, you have to then analyze the customer’s behavior, and you have to adapt, the keyword here is adapt, your selling behavior to the customer in order to be successful.

Fred Dunayer:                 Sounds like a skill that would be good for all aspects of life not just selling.

Mike Lewis:                      Fred, you’re absolutely correct. All I’ve done is adapt it to selling and focus on selling. But DiSC can be used within the business organization, how does the CEO adapt to their bookkeeper?, how does the sales manager adapt to their salesman?, how does the project manager adapt to the people in the warehouse? It’s all the same.

Dennis Zink:                     Thank you, you refreshed my memory and I do recall we did use it for all aspects of our organization.

Mike Lewis:                      It is used widely across all aspects, we’ve just adapted it to selling.

Dennis Zink:                     How do you build rapport with prospective customers depending upon what quadrant you’re in.

Mike Lewis:                      You build rapport by understanding number one, what is your personality. Am I a analytical person? In my own case I’m not. I don’t really delve in to the facts and the figures and look at excel spreadsheets. Yes, I could do it, but that’s not really what my personality behavior is. I’m more talkative, I’m more direct.

If I walk in and talk to somebody I’m selling to that needs data, needs analytical data in order to make a decision, and myself as a salesman doesn’t recognize that from the customer, then I’m not going to sell that customer. The reason is that I’m not giving them the facts and figures they need to make a rational decision. They will never buy.

Dennis Zink:                     So it’s really a question of alignment?

Mike Lewis:                      Alignment, adapting.

Dennis Zink:                     Yes. Trying to get closee. Does it mean that you’re actually kind of putting on airs or just being fake if you’re not who you are and you’re trying to adapt to the customer by being different?

Mike Lewis:                      No, you’re not putting on an air. All you’re doing is you’re being smart. You’re adapting your behavior to what the customer’s behavior is, and pick up indicators, so you can satisfy the customer need.

Dennis Zink:                     Mike, you said that all customers buy differently. Can you explain why that happens?

Mike Lewis:                      You have to understand how the customer buys, but first you have to understand how you sell. The question is, how do you understand how the customer buys?

In selling, you can walk in to an office, there’s such a things called blueprinting, in other words, you look around. What plaques do they have on the wall. Are there magazines in order or they’re all messy. You walk in to the CEOs office or somebody’s office, and then in the company you take a look around. Is their desk neat or their folders all piled up?

There are different indicators that you have to look for and adapt your behavior personality selling. I might keep things as a mess and have folders just stacked up all over the place, that’s an indicator. If the customer doesn’t, you know they’re neat and they’re orderly, that may be a certain personality indicator that you’re picking up.

People sell differently, and they buy differently, and it’s up to the salesman to pick up those indicators and adapt, as I said before, their traits to the customer’s traits.

Dennis Zink:                     Okay. You walk in to an office, someone that you’re trying to sell, and let’s say they have folders nice and neatly organized, like layered one on top of the other, but he can read them all at the same time. That’s what I do. What do you make out of that?

Mike Lewis:                      Let’s take an example. I walk in to somebody’s office, and I look upon the wall and there’s a white board, and that white board has formulas and it has models of things, and it has numbers, and all types of things. That’s an indicator that they like data, they like to figure things out. That’s just one indicator, but it’s a direction the salesman should pick up on.

Because if you’re a I behavior, an interactive people behavior like I explained before, and all I want to do is start talking, you’re going to turn that customer off immediately. You need to pick up on that indicator and realize, I have to adapt my behavior and my personality in order to satisfy the customer with data, with facts, with figures, with testimonials.

What’s going to happen is that customer’s going to say, “Hey, this salesman really knows what turns me on. This salesman really knows how to get to the bottom line, they’re giving me what I need.” If you don’t do that, the customer will never buy from you.

Dennis Zink:                     So you’re really not changing your personality as a sales person, you’re just adapting your behavior in an attempt to try to be more successful with the goal, which is to walk out of there with an order and establish a relationship.

Mike Lewis:                      That’s absolutely correct, because we all have comfort zones. Your comfort zone might be just give me the facts ma’am, be very direct, and that’s what satisfies you. My personality may be a talkative personality, that’s what turns me on, but if I don’t understand that you want to be very direct, I’m going to miss the point. You’re going to start saying to me, “You know what, this guy is just wasting my time”, and you never get to selling skills, you never get to asking the questions because the customer is turned off.

Dennis Zink:                     It’s obviously important for the salesperson to understand their own personality. How can they do that?

Mike Lewis:                      They’ll do that with an assessment that we give quite frankly. You’ll get a 28 page assessment, you can go online, we give a little assessment. It’s not a test, it’s an assessment, and it pretty much nails you to the wall. It’s an amazing thing. There are 24 questions, and out of that 24 questions we get a 28, 24 page report, and it maps out your different behaviors and different quadrants.

We all don’t have just one type of behavior, they all work in combination. I might be, what you call a very direct and a very D type of behavior along with a I, interactive people behavior, and they work in combination. It’s the same with a customer.

Once I understand my predominant behaviors, my highest combination of behaviors, then I understand what I have to control, because my strengths overused can become a weakness. Your strengths overused can become a weakness.

Therefore, if we modify those, if we adapt those to what we want as an end result, and that’s increase our revenue, increase our profit, get more orders, we’ll be able to do that by adapting if we understand who we are, and then look at indicators of the customer.

Dennis Zink:                     In your personality selling course for example, you refer to determining your customer’s buying style. Can you explain more on how that’s done?

Mike Lewis:                      Obviously you can’t give the customer an assessment as you’ve taken, but you can look at tendencies, you can look at indicators as I said before, what’s around the office. Is everything stacked up neatly are there facts and figures on the wall? Is the desk empty? If the desk is empty, there’s nothing on the desk, then maybe a very direct, dominant type of person, let’s just get to the facts.

There are various indicators that you can look for. How do they stand? How do they speak? Are they quick? Are they slow? Did they ask specific questions such as how did you get to that point? Who else is using this product? Give me some data on the product. Those are all indicators that the sale representative has to pick up on.

Fred Dunayer:                 Mike, how can this be adapted for use on the telephone?

Mike Lewis:                      It’s a very difficult situation when you’re calling somebody on the phone. Telephone selling techniques is not an easy situation. As you probably know Fred, when we did the pricing for profit discussion a few weeks ago. When you get somebody on the phone, you got about three to five seconds to get a grabber statement before the person is going to hang up.

It’s very difficult to do this on the phone, but it can be done by doing some homework before you call that customer. What type of business does that customer in? Do you know anything about the CEO? This can all be gotten online. Where did they graduate from? What was their predominant major that they took in school in college. Those could be indicators but it’s a very difficult situation to use this on the phone.

Fred Dunayer:                 Let’s say you’re selling a lot online, people, even business to business, a lot of it is happening online these days. Is there any way to setup your webpage or your online presence in a way that will cross the different boundaries, so you don’t leave somebody out when you’re trying to appeal to the spectrum of personality types?

Mike Lewis:                      That’s an interesting question, I’ve never delved into that but I would imagine online what you can do, is you can ask specific questions, see what answers you get. Just filling out a form is not going to get you there obviously, but it depends on your product, how involved is your product compared to just ordering something.

You can ask specific questions and see if you get answers back that are very detailed. If the answers come back and they’re very detailed, then that’s an indicator of what this customer wants, what type of behavior they have.

For instance, I have a friend who’s very direct, very dominant, wants to get to the point. He would never ask detailed questions, never happen. If you get an answer back that says, “Just give me the price”, then that’s an indicator of what that customer really wants. If you get an answer back that asks you to go into detail, long, winded, that’s an indicator that this person is interactive, people orientated, they want to talk, they want to build rapport, they want to get to know you before you buy anything. So there are certain indicators you have to look for.

Dennis Zink:                     I think Fred’s question is really interesting and I’ve been thinking about it and listening to you at the same time, I’m multitasking. What it implies is that, it’s like AB testing. If someone’s looking for a specific product and the website is asking questions to move them along a certain line, it can actually force them down a D pipeline, or an I, or a C, or whatever the letter is in terms of their personality.

I think it’s done but it’s probably done using AB testing where they test one against two, and then you pick whether you want one or two, and you go down that road. If the questions are geared properly, it probably it would work.

Fred Dunayer:                 As I’m thinking about it too, for example, when you go to look at an item you might be buying, there’s going to be one tab that’s going to have specifications and another tab that might say features and benefits, and different personality types may tend to click on different tabs. Maybe they’ll all click on all of them but they’ll go through a specific order. The point is to have those options available so that all the personality types that are coming to your website have the ability to get the information they need to make a decision.

Dennis Zink:                     Yes Mike, and if you’re going to a client, you’re prepared for any personality type or every personality type. In other words, if they want the data then you’ve got it, and if they don’t, then you just leave it out and you go a different route.

Mike Lewis:                      That’s absolutely correct. It’s the same thing as selling skills. When you walk in to a customer, you have to be able to handle all situations. You have to be able to understand what are some of the objections that could come up and practice those before you go in. It’s not the time to practice when you get in there. You have to be an expert.

Sales people have to take selling as their profession. It’s just like a football player, sure you’ve heard this adage before, they don’t go on the field without their helmet. It’s the same thing with a sales representative, they need to go in to that office or they need to talk to a customer anywhere – on the phone, and they have to be prepared, they have to take this seriously that this is their profession.

So when they walk in to their customer, they have to take a look at the indicators they see and be able to adapt very quickly. They have to, when we get back to selling skills, understand that I have to ask some probing questions. What are those probing questions? Where is that going to lead me?

For instance, in selling, you never ask a question that you don’t know the answer to. It’s a technique that you have to use, you have to be able to say, okay, if this customer asks you a question about your product and it’s an objection, is it a real objection or is it not a real objection. It’s the same thing with personality selling, adapt, adapt, adapt, look at the indicators and move on.

Dennis Zink:                     In your experience, what personality types tend to sell the best, or it does it matter?

Mike Lewis:                      They’re all over the lot, because the highest personality type is an S which is a traditional, we don’t want change, be careful type of personalities, about 40% of the United States population, which is rather high.

They’re all over the lot, you never know who you going to run in to and that’s why you have to do your homework before you walk in. You may ask the receptionist, “Tell me a little bit about John who’s the CEO, before I go in there, can you help me understand?” So you get some indicators, this is blueprinting.

Dennis Zink:                     Let me ask you this, the 40% is an interesting figure. What about the other letters in the quadrant?

Mike Lewis:                      The lowest is a D which is about 12%, and the other, the I and the C fall in between that, but the highest percentage are people who are traditional, let’s not change, let’s be careful.

For instance, let me give you a cute little example, I happen to use this on my website when I was doing consulting. If you have a group of people standing by an elevator, and they all get in the elevator at the same time, and somebody pushes the button to the seventh floor, the S or traditional person might say, “Well wait a minute, we always go to the fourth floor first, why do we change, why do we have to go to the seventh floor?” That’s tradition, they don’t want change.

Whereas if you’re standing in front of that elevator and everybody runs in, there’s one guy lagging behind, and the door closes and everybody said, “Why didn’t you wait for him?” “Listen, I gotta go to a meeting, I don’t have any time. I gotta get going.” That’s the D. Whereas the I gets in that elevator and they just talk to everybody, “Hey, you wanna go for a drink after work?” The fact to the matter is, they want to talk to people, they want to build rapport.

If you don’t have a personality that’s going to be able to adapt, if that’s your customer, you’re not going to get the order.

Dennis Zink:                     What’s the C do?

Mike Lewis:                      The C counts the people in the elevator, once, two, three, four, and they say, “Oh my god, we’re overweight, stop the elevator.”

Fred Dunayer:                 You talked about these different quadrants. I would suspect that our audience who are a lot of people starting businesses, CEOs of small businesses have a much higher percentage of D types than the general population.

Mike Lewis:                      You would think that Fred, but not necessarily. I get that question all the time, with accountants, with sales representatives, with lawyers, with doctors, it’s really not, it’s really across the board. See, what happens is people put on what I call an air or a mask, and they may act one way in a certain situation, but when they get under stress, their true behavior and personality comes out and the mask comes off, and that’s not who they really are.

I’m sure you’ve seen situations where somebody acts a certain way, they behave a certain way, and then all of a sudden the pressure of … They have a high receivable or their payables are high, whatever the situation is, and all of the sudden they turn and they act differently. That’s their mask coming off. You never really what their true behavior and personality is.

Fred Dunayer:                 As a sales person, do you ever have to penetrate that mask, or do the customers typically not have one?

Mike Lewis:                      We all have it, we all have a mask depending where you are on the scale of zero to a hundred within the spectrum of D, I, S and C, the mask will come off sooner or come off later. For instance with me, I’m a very low C, which means I’m not analytical person, I’m down by zero. I don’t want to hear facts, I don’t want to hear figures, there’s no mask. It is what it is.

You may find somebody who’s a, I call a high D which is close to 80, or 90, or 100%. They may have a mask, and they may be covering up their true personality behavior with being people oriented and interactive, and then make you believe that they’re your friend, and then they get under pressure and all of a sudden, they turn on you. They start saying, “No, we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna do that, you’re gonna do it my way.” That’s their mask coming off, that’s their true behavior and personality coming out.

Interestingly enough customers are the same. So it’s hard to determine that. You have to do that when you get in to selling skills and asking them questions, need satisfaction selling. What’s important to you? How can I help you? Etc.

Fred Dunayer:                 That is why you’re looking for those non-verbal cues such as the messy desk and the plaques on the wall.

Mike Lewis:                      Absolutely. How do they dress? How do they act? What do they look like?

Dennis Zink:                     So Fred, you and I have worked together for a while and Mike I have known you … I’ve known you for awhile. What are mine?

Mike Lewis:                      I would say Dennis, you have a D type of behavior personality. You’re  very direct, you want to get right to the point, you’ll cut people off, don’t take that badly.

Dennis Zink:                     Mike, enough, said.

Fred Dunayer:                 Which is why I think Mike is a D too because you asked me the question and he answered it.

Mike Lewis:                      That’s absolutely correct by the way Fred, I hear you. Let’s skip to the point.

Dennis Zink:                     He said he was a C.

Mike Lewis:                      No, I said I’m a zero C.

Dennis Zink:                     Okay. I was wondering about that.

Fred Dunayer:                 I think it’s true that by and large, you get a lot of things done which takes a certain amount of assertiveness. I was going to use the word aggression but that’s not right, it’s more assertiveness, and that what I would expect it to be a person who’s a D as well as, you know, you’re chairman of the chapter, I would expect that somebody who aspired to that would be a D as well. You also have a pretty high I quotient, you really like to bring a lot of people in to things, you like to involve a lot of people.

It’s interesting, I’m a very high I. I was a second in charge of the IT department for the county which had 100 employees. Like I said I was number two, I was the only I type, high I type in the entire department. So those skills shouldn’t be minimized, but I was surrounded by a lot of D’s at the top, then a lot of C’s and S’s in the ranks. You really did have to adapt to all of those personality types, and obviously, by being one I will say that, I’s are good at making those adaptations because that’s our fundamental principle.

Dennis Zink:                     I’m going to tell you what I am. I’m an I, a high I with a strong secondary as a D.

Mike Lewis:                      That’s the same as I am, 100% I and I’m 80% D. We’re both in the same position as chapter chairs in our chapters, and we have similar behaviors. As I said before, analytical things are on the bottom, I’m not very traditional in the S quotient, I want change, I don’t want to keep the status quo. If there’s new things we can do, if there’s new things we can move our chapters along, then all the better.

So, if we look at this from the sales representative’s point-of-view, or just in general life, the thing to do is take a pencil out and we’ll start to write down how you view yourself. Where do you think you fall in? Because only you know your true behavior and personality. You may not admit it to people, but you really know how you act, what is important to you in order to satisfy your needs.

Fred Dunayer:                 Mike, is there anything we haven’t discussed or anything you want to reemphasize before we wrap this up?

Mike Lewis:                      I would like to emphasize that in order to be successful as a sales person you really have to analyze who you are first, and be honest with yourself. You have to really take a look at how am I going to look at these indicators from my customer, and you have to practice adapting.

It doesn’t mean you have to be phony, it means your end objective is to get the order, increase your revenue therefore increasing your profits, and helping the customer because that’s what you’re doing. If you have a product you believe in and you can get your point across in a different way, then just going in and using traditional selling skills, you’re going to be all that more successful.

So take an honest look at yourself and say, “What do I have to do with each individual customer. If I talk too much, then I have to know that I have to tone it down if I’m a friend of a customer that wants data.” That is the key to success.

Dennis Zink:                     Mike, thank you for being our guest today on Been There, Done That, and then enlightening our audience on the Sales Bridge, selling skills and personality.

Mike Lewis:                      I enjoyed being here, I appreciate it Dennis and Fred, and I’ll come back anytime.

Fred Dunayer:                 Thanks Mike.

Fred Dunayer:                 You’ve been listening to the SCORE Small Business Success podcast, Been There, Done That. The opinions of the hosts and guests are theirs, they do not necessarily reflect those at SCORE. If you would like to hear more podcasts, get a free mentor, view the transcript of this podcast, or would like more information about the services we provide, you can call SCORE at 800-634-0245, or visit our website at www.score.org. Again, that’s 800-634-0245, or visit the website at www.score.org.