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How to Grow Your Sales with Social Styles

By Susan Hall

How to Grow Your Sales with Social Styles

Susan Hall and Tim Deuitch discuss the 4 different Social Styles and techniques to increase sales through building stronger professional and personal relationships.

Do you have difficulty relating to customers or prospects? Do you only connect and close business with a client who is like you? In this episode, we discuss simple strategies to connect with the other 75% through understanding a person's Social Style.

Susan Hall: 00:01  Hello and welcome to the Strategic Insights Podcast brought to you by Strategic Enhancement Group. I'm Susan Hall, Vice-president of Business Development and Performance Improvement. Today I'm joined by Tim Deuitch, Senior Performance Consultant at Strategic Enhancement Group. Welcome, Tim. 

Tim Deuitch: 00:19  Thanks, Susan it's great to be here. 

Susan Hall: 00:23  Well, Tim I'm really excited about our podcast today because the purpose of this podcast is to discuss what I believe might be the single most important communication skill to success in sales and in life. And I really don't think that's hyperbole. Have you ever had this experience? I'm sure you have in your career where you're meeting with a client for the very first time and you just connect. It just flows. You immediately have rapport, you're able to talk about personal things. You're able to talk about business issues and the conversation just flows. Has that ever happened?

Tim Deuitch: 01:01  Oh and I love it when it does.

Susan Hall: 01:07  What's interesting is that the research tells us that by our natural communication styles we connect with about 25 percent of our customers who have similar styles to our own and we know like you said that when it happens it's magic. You gain access to information and you build trust more easily. Relationship tension is reduced. We enjoy greater customer loyalty and all of the great things that happen to make us not only more successful in sales but also enjoy the process. So the question for today is if we connect automatically with about 25 percent of our customers, what about the other 75 percent? So Tim, have you ever experienced were no matter what you did, you just didn't connect with that customer that first time around.

Tim Deuitch: 02:06  Yes. Absolutely, no question. I think anybody that's been in a sales position for any length of time kind of understands those bookings, the ones that they connect with right off the bat. And then the ones that you just sort of shake your head when you do.

Whether it's a phone call or certainly in person, you shake your head when it's all done and you go, "What, what, what just happened?"

Right. You know what went and didn't happen or what could I have done about that? All I know is we didn't connect. 

Susan Hall: 02:40  I think that the consequences of that is we're surprised. We're late in the proposal stage and there was a really important piece of information that we just didn't get and it's not because we didn't ask. But they just didn't share it with us or perhaps a customer is looking at their watch during the meeting or cutting you short and you get that sickening feeling in your stomach. I can't tell you how many times I've coached other salespeople and they tell me, "This approach worked for this customer. I don't understand why it doesn't work for this customer?" So, if we go back to that 25 percent of the time where it does connect at first glance, you think that it's just you. It's almost like you said it's tough to put your finger on it. 

But research tells us that success in terms of connecting like this is actually due to a skill that we call versatility which is your ability to make slight modifications in how you behave to make that other person more comfortable with your communication style for better results and also for better relationships. And I think what's really cool is that versatility is a skill that anyone can learn. All of us have learned some level of versatility, over time it's called survival skills. But by putting a name on it and really unpacking and understanding the dynamics of versatility you can improve your sales success. We have studies and there have been studies outside of our organization that show up to 50 percent more effective in sales. 

Tim Deuitch: 04:30  I think that one of the definitions or illustrations I attached to the term versatility is trying to differentiate between somebody who fancies themselves a particularly tremendous salesperson and they say well I'm going to step back and I'm going to take this angle with them because that last approach I had didn't seem to jive with them. So I'm going to take a different approach. Right. One of the things I like about what you're saying about versatility is that it puts the onus on the salesperson to understand what would help that person feel comfortable in terms of the way I speak with them, the way I communicate, the way I send e-mails, and the way I bring them information. What does this person or how does this person consume information or contact with me and how can I adjust my approach to help them feel comfortable so that we can have a basis for potentially working together? 

Susan Hall: 05:43  I think that's a really important point. It's not about manipulation. It's not about being something you're not. It's really about making small modifications that all of us do at will anyway right. We're just becoming aware of what will make this particular customer work more comfortable in a way that respects their style. And so let's talk about that because the research shows that people are dividing out equally across for primary communications styles and we call these for social styles Driver, Expressive, Amiable and Analytical. When a customer is easy to work with or we have that kind of magic connection it's often, not always, but often because we share the same style. Sometimes when there's tension, it's often because our styles are different or we're not being versatile. 

So our experience working with high performing sales companies is that versatility is the single most important way to enhance your communication skills. And I want to be clear about something in our podcast today Tim, there's a whole body of work around versatility and we're not here to teach the program. We could talk about this for hours on end but we do want to hit on a couple of quick bullet points and then leave our listeners with some very practical, usable tips for interacting more effectively with all four of these styles. So does that sound OK to you? 

Tim Deuitch: 07:17  Absolutely. 

Susan Hall: 07:20  So there are three steps in terms of versatility.  The first is to identify the style of the person that you're interacting with. The second is just to take a moment to reflect before you meet with them or while you're meeting with them on the expectations that this style has of you. The third is to modify your behavior or use very simple adaptions that we're going to be talking about. So let's dive into the four different styles. 

The Analytical individual is deliberate, thorough, and logical in how they interact with us. They tend to rely on a structured approach to decision making and they like factual based evidence. What else would you add to that about the Analytical Tim? 

Tim Deuitch: 08:25  One of the things I do for any style is I go back to that number one that you mentioned which is to identify their style. So with a person who's Analytical, I'm looking for clues to find out what how did they like to receive information. So, one particular way that I know somebody who's Analytical likes to make deliberate and logical and often thinks in terms of process I'm very mindful of sending them a detailed agenda in advance. So if I know we have a conversation coming up next week, I will look to send them an agenda that clarifies what we're trying to accomplish in this call, how we'll accomplish this call and maybe especially again because they like to consume information, send a few side items that relate to the conversation we're going to have so that they can dig in a little bit because that's something they want to do normally.  So that's one way I take an approach. 

Susan Hall: 09:39  Absolutely and I want to get into more tips on how we deal with this when we talk about modifying. And I think that's a great one, Tim, we're going to share a few more. But do send information in advance because Analyticals like to process and think before they speak which is kind of an anomaly to style. So they definitely like to process. 

So let's just talk about some of the specific characteristics of the Amiable style. Okay and we'll go into some more specifics but my experience with Amiable people is they're warm.  They're friendly. They're supportive. They tend to value cooperation and harmony. Anything you would add to that?

Tim Deuitch: 10:34  I would say that consensus is very important to them. Knowing that others have input if we begin to move towards a decision making path. These are people that are going to be very conscious of whether everybody has had a chance to weigh in. I'm going to need to bounce this idea off of so and so and so and so and so and so. The Amiable is more likely to want to be bouncing it off of a number of people. Why? Because they would like to have everybody involved in it and they want to make sure everybody's comfortable with how things might progress. 

Susan Hall: 11:13  And I find that with Amiables and Analyticals, their pace compared to some styles can seem a little bit more moderated and deliberate because both the Analytical and the Amiable style are thinking before they're speaking. They tend to assert themselves and want to influence others in a kind and gentle way.  "Are you sure you want to wear those shoes this morning?" Sorry that was my husband the other day when we were going to New York and he knew I was going to be walking for fifteen miles and do you really want to wear those cute high-heel shoes. Whereas some styles, the Expressive and the Driver styles tend to be more tell. "You're crazy for wearing those shoes to New York!"

So let's shift to the Expressive style. These individuals tend to make a lot of statements versus influencing through asking questions. They are a little bit more forceful. They're enthusiastic. They're inspiring. These are people-people so they're open about sharing their feelings and they tend to be big picture thinkers. Don't drown them in details. What else would you add to the Expressive style? 

Tim Deuitch: 12:29  Well this is a person who is going to be thinking out loud. And for some salespeople and I'm one of them, this is the type of person who's a lot like me. 

And so I'm very quick now to recognize when I'm chatting with someone who likes to think out loud, who tells you a story as a way to explain something or when you might say, "What's a particular need you have in your organization or a particular thing you're thinking about?" Well, this is the type of person who will answer that thoroughly because they're very comfortable with sharing what they've been thinking. 

Susan Hall: 13:16  Exactly. In fact they tend to be very animated and get passionate about what they're thinking to the degree that sometimes the other styles can express, "Wow it's like watching fireworks go off  listening to this expensive talk and they've just rattled off 14 different things. Does that mean we actually have to follow through on those 14 different things?" 

Kind of a frightening thought, right? But again people-people who are definitely animated, high-energy and enthusiastic. So the fourth style than, we talked about Analytical, Amiable and Expressive.

The fourth style is Driver and Drivers like Expressives also tend to tell. They tend to make more forceful declarative statements, have a higher level of energy behind their communication. But they are different in that they tend to be much more concise, clear, results, oriented, bullet points, bottom-line, give me the briefing, give me the cliff notes, or the executive summary. What else would you add to the driver style?

Tim Deuitch: 14:25  Well I would add and it's a great juxtaposition to the Expressive type, the Talker. The Driver wants to get right to it. So they're prone to it. When you're  having a conversation, again phone or in person, it doesn't matter. They are business first, small talk at the end. And so that's a very easy indicator for me is someone who is going to say, "OK what do we get?" "What do we have to do?" Or, "let's get down to it. What do you need?" It's actually spoken oftentimes very quickly just like that. And so it's task first. 

Susan Hall: 15:08  Exactly task first. And then they can kick once the task tension has been reduced they can kind of kick back and talk about hey how was your weekend or what did you think of the game. But they expect others to focus on results and focus on the task first as well. 

Tim Deuitch: 15:27  And even then, with a Driver when there is some level of small talk at the end even that is accomplished fairly quickly. This is not generally somebody who's going to be overly expressive about things, even your small talk will be concise. 

Susan Hall: 15:45  Exactly. So these are the four styles we've described them again just at an incredibly high level. But the idea is once you've identified the style of your customer, take a few moments and reflect on what will help that person be more comfortable and how you need to adapt or modify your behavior. 

Tim Deuitch: 16:06  Right. Yes, Suzan, I wanted to mention something about the word reflect. It's something I always think about as a person who does sell a lot but I am very much a people person. Here's the way I look at it from basic sales and that is reflection is another word for Plan. 

Rather I know my client. I know my prospect. We've had a chance to connect with each other. Part of my planning for this next moment with them is to make sure that I'm communicating with them in a way that's most comfortable. So it's kind of obvious but I'd take that time to plan how you'll communicate with them, not just how you'll position a product or some really strong discovery question. 

This is about how you will interact with them in a way that's comfortable. 

Susan Hall: 17:01  Are you saying Tim that sometimes salespeople don't plan?

Tim Deuitch: 17:04  It's been my observation or more specifically this is about what are you planning for? 

And in this case what we're saying is plan to help them be as comfortable as possible. 

Susan Hall: 17:24  That's a great point. It is just as important to that whatever you normally do to a plan, whether it's complete your planner or taking some quiet time with your notes and your pad of paper to come up with your purpose and your process for your meeting. Build thinking about style into your planning process as well. 

Tim Deuitch: 17:45  Right. And I want to offer one example as we're about to move towards versatility and how do we, what's the strategy for this? I want to mention something. I was with a client the other day who is very much a people person. She's  on the Expressive side of things and she's going to go visit a Driver and she's saying it always makes me so nervous that they don't want to ask how you're doing. They just want to get right down to business. 

And what I said to her was OK then just plan to do that. Don't fight it. What a concept, don't fight it. Just go and say, "Are we ready? Would you like to go ahead and get started?"

Susan Hall: 18:32  And once you reflect. Let's focus the rest of our time together here today on modifying. That's taking action, those small things you can do to respect and communicate more effectively with the different diverse styles. And again this isn't changing who you are. I mean it could be as simple as slowing your pace down, picking your pace up, using more or fewer facial expressions, inviting somebody to share their opinion first before launching right into a diatribe. 

So let's discuss first of all Drivers, we will kind of start from the back and work our way forward again. Drivers want to get to the point more quickly. 

And so I found when working with Drivers, always, always respect their time. If they give you 30 minutes when you're  checking with them regarding the purpose of your meeting and what you're here to accomplish double check that that's on track. If we still have 30 minutes and respect. Yes. What else do you do in terms of when you're when you're selling and communicating with drivers?

Tim Deuitch: 19:47  One of the things I'm very mindful of when it comes to drivers so there's the use of time. That is one thing but it's also how was the quality of that time. And it's a question I can ask any particular style but for this style, it's especially meaningful to them and that is, have I met your needs today or have we covered what we needed to cover at this point in this call? Did we cover what we needed? Is there something specific you want to make sure that I cover the next time we chat? It allows them to verbalize a qualitative assessment of the session we just had. We get to the point. It allows it to be succinct. But I've always found that a driver will respect when you ask them did this call work for you? Was this a good use of your time? 

Susan Hall: 20:48  That's a great point and a great way to answer that question. I also find that Drivers are willing to take risks as long as there is a good probability based on evidence that the risk will be rewarded. So, factual based evidence is important to drivers and when you're advocating or recommending solutions, make sure you've got your evidence and your results information with you and also give them options. I find that with the driver style they like to have control and they can certainly be persuaded with facts and evidence but they like to have options. That's another way that I think can be effective in terms of advocating or selling when it comes to Drivers. So Tim again we could we could talk for hours on this but let's let's move on to the Expressive style then. Since we're working backward here from how we introduced the styles, Expressives love to brainstorm. 

You've already mentioned Tim that they think out loud. They're very comfortable with that. They're comfortable sharing what they're thinking. They tend to use facial gestures and animation. They want people to be inspired by what they're discussing. What else would you add in terms of selling to the expressive style?

Tim Deuitch: 22:29  Well I think with Expressives, it's a variation on the Driver of which to some might seem subtle but to me, it's really significant. With the Expressive, I think you want to set the tone of the topic of the conversation very early on. Something I like to do for somebody who I know likes to think out loud, I'll ask them, "OK. Before we get started, what do we want to make sure we accomplish in our conversation today?" I know the conversation is likely going to go in different directions and maybe take a tangent or two but by establishing it right off the bat what we are trying to accomplish or what would move the needle today, it helps an Expressive and it helps give me permission to pull an Expressive back to the topic that's needed. 

Susan Hall: 23:20  Right. Which you may have to do sometimes. They can go off on tangents and talk in circles that's for sure. I found with Expressives, make it easy for them. As a salesperson, if they need to be communicating with their team, draft that email for them and send it to them in advance. Do as much of the little detail work as you can to make it easy for them, save them the effort. That's really important to an Expressive. 

Tim Deuitch: 23:56  Yes, that's a great one. I've met a number of cases where it's almost the more you have a talker the more they value when you can put things in writing for them. Especially those communication e-mails where you say, "Do you want me to just go ahead and give that first draft a shot?" They love you for it. 

Absolutely because they'll tell you that they love you for it. That's right. You'll actually know that.

Susan Hall: 24:21  When advocating to Expressives too, testimonials, these are people-people, so hearing what other people with other companies are doing right is more important to them as composed to a Driver or an Analytical where it's not so much people evidence, it's more about factual results based.  

Let's move to Amiables then. When you think about Amiable, who in my experience, as you already mentioned, they tend to be more comfortable involving others in the decision-making process. So I found that sometimes bringing a team together and facilitating as a salesperson the discussion among the team so that the amiable client can hear how everybody else weighs in so as to come to some sort of a consensus. Even though that may seem like more work up front, it's actually a much more efficient and overall effective process for that client. 

Tim Deuitch: 25:34  If if you are working with an Amiable and your sales process sort of calls for a group discussion or a conference call for the Amiable, they very much appreciate it. Even if you take the lead on that conference call or you help orchestrate what the agenda looks like for the conference call because the person is Amiable.  They are very thoughtful about anyone who would be involved in the process and want to make sure that they're comfortable. It's about working together so the ability to help them ensure that the process is moving along comfortably for everybody, they value that.  

The other thing I would say about an Amiable is that small talk upfront is the rule. Whereas with the Driver small talk afterward is the pattern. Amiables really are very happy if you actually ask them how's work today? How's your day going? We start with that and they actually value that. They'll know that you took the time to check in on me and that makes me comfortable. 

So that makes it more likely that I'm going to now invest my thought into your work and the reason you're called.

Susan Hall: 27:04  Right and Expressives and Amiables being people-people, get the work done through and with people that's first in for most. So there has to be a level of trust regarding each style and what it takes to gain trust looks a little bit different with each style. But to your point Tim, with the people-people, Expressives and Amiables, part of that is taking the time to get to know each other personally. Not at nauseam, not stretching yourself outside of who you would normally be but just taking a breath and having that conversation so that they're more comfortable and you're more comfortable proceeding to the task. 

Tim Deuitch: 27:41  Right. I think that again Amiables and to your point some Expressives, they're the groove that when you ask them how are you, they value that you actually listened to their answer. 

And so the way that you show that you value how they're doing is you ask them a follow-up. If they say "I'm OK" and then you say well that didn't sound sincere or it didn't sound convincing, you sure? It doesn't have to be an elongated conversation but just a note that says well I hope everything goes well today or something that acknowledges that is very important. 

Susan Hall: 28:31  Tim very good. Well, our final style is Analytical. One of the things that you've already mentioned Tim, for me because Analytical is not my natural communication style, so I really have to think about in advance what's the purpose? What's the process and the payoff for this meeting? Then I send that to the Analytical client. I think that first of all, that is a different podcast, I think it's a good idea to send that to every client before a call to make sure the time is effective for them especially with an Analytical. And then you want to make sure that any kind of documentation that will be important for them to know or understand, send it well in advance because you will find that they actually read it.  Not like sometimes with Drivers and Expressives that maybe glance at it as they are waiting for the rest of the people in the meeting to come in. The Analyticals will not only read it, they'll process it. 

And I have found that if you give an analytical a question or a problem in time you will get the best most thorough well-thought out accurate response that you could hope for. 

Tim Deuitch: 29:43  Yes I agree. When I think of an Analytical's goals in terms of the back and forth communication, I do think in terms of bullets.  They appreciate sending emails or receiving emails that chunk the information you're you're sending to them. 

So bullets are helpful as is timeliness of sharing agendas or sharing information in general. I'm very cautious when somebody asks, "Can you send me some background on that session?" I'm cautious about what does each style mean when they say "background?" This much I know with Analyticals, they're OK if you send them some depth.  

I'm not sure with any of the others that I would send them a lot of background. I might send a page or two and I'm happy to add to it. Analyticals, I know I can send it, whatever the situation is. I send them 4-6 pages of background and generally, in most cases, they will appreciate that you just send them some depth. 

Susan Hall: 31:04  Right but you hit such a critical point and I think this goes for all of the styles, not just Analyticals and that is ask "What do you mean by background?"  Because I know the mistake that I have made when working with Analyticals is assuming that they just want lots and lots of data and that's not right. I mean what they want is the right data. What they want is the data that they need to make a good decision. So before you go spinning your wheels putting all of this together, always clarify what you mean by that. Same with your proposals. Can you send me a proposal? Absolutely. Now what? What do you envision when you say proposal? Are you talking now or what components of that are important for you to see other than the usual results, process, and price. Let them tell you now are you looking for that 60-page proposal or are you looking for that two-page proposal? Just clarify that in terms of deliverables again so that you can modify and meet the comfort level of the style of the person you're dealing with. 

I know both you and I are very passionate about this topic Tim and we could certainly go on for hours.  We would love to hear your experiences with style and are certainly happy to talk with you about this further as well. Couple of closing thoughts I wanted to leave you with.

One is that versatility is not only a proven skill for selling success but it's also a life skill because whether you're working with a customer, a colleague, your boss, your spouse, your kids, we all have our own comfort level and our communications styles.

So I really do believe that the world would be a better place if all of us were more versatile. And also that these are guidelines not absolutes. Every person is unique. Every customer is unique. Every situation is unique. We've all had times when we worked with the Expressive and then they're just in task mode because they need to be in task mode or the driver kicks back and you now wants to hear about your day. So take your cues from the person that you're interacting with at that particular time and situation and use your powers for good. 

Tim Deuitch: 33:39  The final thing I'll offer when it comes to styles and it's one of the reasons like you said, it's a life skill. I've been with Strategic Enhancement Group for 10 years and the social styles framework is the only class itself where I have received comments from people who took it 20 years ago who said that was the best course I've ever taken.  So then I ask them, "Well why do you say that?"

And it is because I use it professionally. It's very easy to use. I understand what it means. I can apply it in all cases and I use it personally. It's helped me at work and at home. 

Susan Hall: 34:34  Pretty compelling.  Well thank you, Tim, I appreciate your time and insight. Thank you, listeners, for listening.  As always we love to hear from you. If you want to learn more about social styles please don't hesitate to contact us.

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Published: November 27, 2017


Susan Hall

Vice President - Business Development & Performance Improvement

Susan brings over 20 years of experience working with global markets and organizations, helping them navigate through tough economic challenges while maintaining their margins. Since joining SEG in 1995, she has had the privilege of working with organizations that truly value the development of their employees and recognize the impact their people have on their bottom line results. Susan graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a double major in business management and speech communication. She has also completed course work toward her master's degree at Johns Hopkins University.

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